“Scripture Stories for Children,” Ensign, Oct. 1980, 66–67
Many families have been enjoying Book of Mormon Stories for over a year now. This Church-produced collection of stories, told in simple language and accompanied by five to six full-color visuals per page, has become a favorite way to study the scriptures with young children in many Latter-day Saint homes. (For a detailed description, see Ensign, Feb. 1979, p. 68.)
Now three more volumes of scripture stories for children are available. Like Book of Mormon Stories, they are a must for any family’s library. All four volumes are ideal for parents or older children to read to younger children—or for children to read to themselves.
Old Testament Stories. “The king of Babylon had a dream. When he woke up, he could not remember it. The king asked some of his wise men to tell him what he had dreamed. He also wanted to know what the dream meant.
“But the wise men could not tell the king his dream. The king was angry. He told his servant to kill all the wise men.
“But God showed Daniel the king’s dream. God told Daniel what it meant. Daniel asked the king’s servant not to kill the wise men. Daniel said he could tell the king about the dream.
“Daniel was taken to the king. He said God told him about the dream. The dream meant the gospel will be taught to all people. Jesus will be the king of all the people on earth. The king of Babylon was happy to know what his dream meant. He made Daniel leader over all the land.”
The story is short, but it’s well told, simple, just right for young children. The full-color visuals accompanying each paragraph are attractive, inviting.
There are forty-eight chapters in Old Testament Stories—chapters that tell in compelling and interesting ways the favorite stories about Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Samuel, Elijah, Esther, and many others.
Several features make Old Testament Stories especially appropriate for Latter-day Saint families. For example, the first chapter isn’t on the Creation—it’s all about the council in heaven and the choice the spirit children of God made between following God and following Lucifer. In a later chapter Jesus is acknowledged as the Creator. The story of Enoch, found in the Pearl of Great Price, comes in its proper Old Testament chronological order. The Jaredites appear in the chapter on the Tower of Babel. Lehi and his family are seen leaving Jerusalem for America just before Babylonian soldiers capture Jerusalem.
Commentary woven into the stories also reflects added information from other LDS scriptural sources. For example, the story of Adam and Eve becomes more complete with details from the book of Moses: “God gave Adam and Eve commandments. He said they should pray to him. God told Adam to make sacrifices to him. To make a sacrifice, Adam killed an animal. He burned the animal on an altar of stone.
“An angel came to Adam. He said Jesus would sacrifice his life for us someday. It would be his gift to us. The sacrifices helped Adam and Eve think about the sacrifice of Jesus” (p. 18).
And the chapter on Abraham’s sacrifice concludes with this insight from Jacob 4:5: “What Abraham did was like what Heavenly Father did. Heavenly Father was willing to let his son, Jesus Christ, die for us. Heavenly Father and Abraham loved their sons. Jesus and Isaac loved their fathers and obeyed them” (p. 41).
All of the stories are tastefully told through language and concepts appropriate for young children. Details of violence and sin are avoided, but the consequences are made clear and moral principles are taught. For example, the story of David and Bathsheba includes such comments as “It was wicked for David to want Uriah’s wife,” and “It was wicked for David to have Uriah killed” (p. 117).
New Testament Stories. Similar to Old Testament Stories in format, New Testament Stories tells in beautiful, yet simple, language important events and teachings in the life of Jesus Christ. The first chapter explains his role in pre-earth life and reviews Old Testament prophesies about his coming. Other chapters deal with the Savior’s birth, baptism, ministry, miracles, parables, death, and resurrection. Concluding chapters detail events that followed—stories about Peter, Stephen, and Paul. Important details are occasionally inserted from other Latter-day Saint sources to clarify points in the Bible.
The strikingly beautiful full-color visuals convey the spirit of the text—and will appeal to young readers. As in Old Testament Stories, there are three to four visuals on some pages, and full-page visuals on others.
The fifty-three stories vary in length. Some cover several pages; others are only a page long. One of the shortest is “Jesus Blesses the Children”:
“Jesus was with his disciples. Some people wanted Jesus to bless their children. The disciples told the people not to bring their children to Jesus.
“Jesus told the disciples to let the children come to him. He told the disciples they should be like little children. Children love Jesus very much. The disciples should have faith like little children. Then they could live with God in Heaven” (p. 91).
Scripture Stories. This volume differs from the preceding two in several ways. Unlike the other books, Scripture Stories has more text than visuals—there are usually only one or two visuals per story. Another important difference is that it is written on a fifth- or sixth-grade reading level. Some of the dialogue is quoted exactly from the scriptures themselves. Along with the more advanced vocabulary come fuller explanations of concepts and more complete stories. The story-book format of Scripture Stories easily captures the interest of young readers (and of older readers and parents, too) and carries them quickly through fifty-four fascinating stories from the standard works.
Since the stories are written in greater detail for older children, Scripture Stories isn’t just a repetition of the favorite stories already printed in the other volumes. And many of the stories aren’t included in the other books. Scripture Stories will help prepare and motivate children to read from the standard works themselves.
Cassette tapes of the stories. Even very young children can read their Old Testament Stories, New Testament Stories, and Book of Mormon Stories alone—with the help of cassette tapes narrated by Francis Urry. Brother Urry’s kind, grandfatherly voice adds charm and warmth to the stories; it’s easy to imagine grandpa himself sitting there in the old rocker next to the fireplace telling the stories over and over again. Background music adds to the drama and the spirit. The narration follows the texts exactly so the reader can follow along as he listens. One beep tells young readers to go to the next picture; two beeps mean to turn the page.
But what about the cost? Who has the kind of money it would take to buy any of these books or tapes? Here’s a pleasant surprise:
$2.50—Old Testament Stories (stock no. PBIC0336; 190 pages)
$2.50—New Testament Stories (PBIC0347; 167 pages)
$2.50—Scripture Stories (PBIC0358; 224 pages; hardbound)
$1.50—Book of Mormon Stories (PBIC0325; 112 pages)
$3.50—Cassette tapes for Old Testament Stories (VVOT0992)
$3.50—Cassette tapes for New Testament Stories (VVOT1044)
$2.35—Cassette tapes for Book of Mormon Stories (PCBL0078)
All of these items are available at Church distribution centers.