“A Head Full of Scriptures,” Ensign, Mar. 1988, 66–67
It was after dark, and I had to walk home alone from school. The streets were dimly lit, and I feared that someone might be lurking in the shadows. A chill went down my spine. To calm my fears, I began repeating the Twenty-third Psalm in my mind:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” [Ps. 23]
My fear left. I walked with confidence, grateful to those who had helped me memorize that inspired psalm.
Because memorized scriptures have lifted my spirits and helped me overcome temptation, I want to help my children learn passages that will give them strength when they’re troubled. While there are many ways to memorize, I prefer a low-key, fun approach. Following are some ways our family has found effective:
Make a chart containing the first letter of each word in a scripture or an article of faith. Point to the letters as you repeat each corresponding word. Repeat the verse a few times and let the children repeat it as they are able. Before long, they will not need the chart.
Divide the scripture into short phrases. Repeat each phrase aloud, starting at the end and working toward the beginning. For example, while memorizing Alma 37:35, repeat the last phrase: “to keep the commandments of God” several times. Then have the children repeat it. Do the same with the phrase: “Yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.” After the children have learned the last two phrases, start with the phrase “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth,” then have them repeat the entire verse.
Write the scripture on paper, then cut it into word or phrase strips. Say the verse a few times, then give each child who can read a set of scrambled paper strips and see who can arrange them in the proper order fastest.
Make a poster of the passage to be memorized. Say it several times, then cover some words. Repeat the verse, covering more words each time, until the entire chart is covered. You can also write the passage on a chalkboard and erase words and phrases as the children become familiar with the passage.
Sing the words of a scripture to a familiar tune.
Create a choral reading from the passage. Divide the children into two groups and let them say alternate words or phrases.
Be creative; try a variety of techniques to see what works best for your family. Remember that children are able to understand and memorize scriptures at much younger ages than we expect, so include even young children in your activities. Explain difficult words and phrases. Compliment the children frequently—never criticize their efforts.
Helping children gain a love for scripture is one of the greatest contributions parents can make to their eternal happiness. As Paul told Timothy, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15.)—Tom Rose, Sandy, Utah