Ever in search of picture books to reinforce and supplement gospel teaching to my youngest “youngins,” I picked up a couple of offerings on The Book of Mormon a while back. Each approaches the subject in different ways, one providing illustrations of gospel principles, and the other focusing on the people found therein.
The first, The book of Mormon says… is pretty much what it sounds like. It is a collection of scripture verses, given in order as they are found in the B of M, along with beautiful illustrations by Debbie G. Harman. It includes most of the “biggies”: 1 Nephi 3:7, “…I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded…” and The Title of Liberty (Alma 46:12). It also contains many lesser-known, but significant scriptures (as if there are some that are insignificant), for example: under the heading “The book of Mormon says…I can repent,” is Alma 24:15 “Oh how merciful is our God! And now behold, since it has been as much as we could do to get our stains taken away from us, and our swords are made bright, let us hide them away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God at the last day…”
The illustrations are brightly-colored and child-like, for the most part busily-detailed collages depicting examples of the principle given in the verse. Some contain snippets of other scriptures or quotes from modern day prophets. The page containing Alma 56:45-47, for example, dealing with “Be brave and trust in God” contains a depiction of the Army of Helaman, a young girl NOT cheating on a test a CTR ring, and mice watching heroic DVD’s, among other things. There is a lot to hold young children’s interest visually while the family briefly discusses the meaning of the given verse. The drawback is in how much seems to be missing. In fact, the book’s primary value is its illustrations. While I noted that most of the biggies are here, there are some glaring omissions, such as the entire book of Moroni. While it is not a comprehensive work on that treasured book, it is certainly a nice addition to a family’s “Sunday-acceptable library,” and may enhance family scripture study.
By contrast, Anita Wells’ NEPHI, NEPHI, the Scriptures Are True! does not contain scripture verses, but rather rhymes about Book of Mormon Heroes. This is a lovely introduction to Nephi, Benjamin, Abish, and several others, addressing each by name, then saying, “the scriptures are true! Tell me what they say about you” and offering a few lines highlighting what he or she is best known for. The illustrations, by Neal Anderson, are lovely, but more severe than in the first book, with muted colors, depicting more tense emotions on the faces in the scenes they are dramatize: anger in the faces of those slinging arrows at Samuel on the wall, humility and awe on Enos’ face as the Lord answers him after his long night wrestling with the Spirit. The meter and rhyme, familiar to children, help increase familiarity with these heroes and provide a starting point for family discussion.
In this book the pictures are all set in the time and place the heroes lived, unlike the first, which intentionally illustrates (but does not discuss in the text) modern examples of how one might “liken the scriptures” to our day. Either one may be worth the investment, as long as we remember to actually read to our children out of the scriptures often, and not rely entirely on these wonderful supplemental materials.