My Crash Course in Reading

“My Crash Course in Reading,” New Era, Feb. 1999, 9

My Crash Course in Reading

Read the Book of Mormon in two months? After my accident, I couldn’t read at all!

“Our Area Presidency has challenged us to read the Book of Mormon before stake conference. Will you try?” my dad asked me. “I’ll try,” I said reluctantly. I was reluctant because I had recently been in a bicycle accident, where I had received a fairly serious concussion. I remember the exact date of my accident—July 27, 1993—because it was my younger brother Brent’s 12th birthday.

The morning of Brent’s birthday, I realized I still did not have a present for him, so I decided to ride my bicycle to a store to find something. The store was about a mile away, and getting there required that I ride along a busy state highway. Thinking I would be safer, I rode on a seldom-used sidewalk that runs by some condominiums not far from my home. Toward the bottom of the hill, the sidewalk becomes uneven and is covered with sand, dirt, and plants. The sidewalk was not easily seen from either the highway or the condos. I headed down the hill, picking up speed as I went. But my trip didn’t take me where I had planned to go. I ended up in the hospital instead.

To this day, I have no memory of what happened. All I know is that I was in pain. I had more than 40 stitches over one eye and on my chin, and I had bandages over other cuts and scrapes. I later learned that two teenage boys had found me. They had contacted a neighbor, who had called my mom and the paramedics.

Five days later, I was still delirious. While I was in the hospital and at home, many loving people in our ward visited me and brought me gifts—although I can’t remember most of it.

Later, my parents had a speech pathologist test me. The tests showed moderate to severe impairment of my ability to retrieve general information, organize thoughts, and speak intelligently. My “mental age” had dropped. Although I was nearly 15 years old, I was performing at the level of a 12-year-old. One of the most frustrating problems was that I couldn’t read. I could see the words, but my mind couldn’t process them. It was almost as if I had forgotten how to read. So my dad’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon within a two-month period would be an immense difficulty.

That night, I knelt by my bed to pray to Heavenly Father. During my prayer, I felt strongly that if Heavenly Father wanted me to read the Book of Mormon, he would help me. After the prayer, I got up, sat in bed, and opened the Book of Mormon to the first page. I slowly looked at the words in front of me and began, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents. …” I was reading! I could actually understand the words! Part of me was totally amazed and excited. Yet part of me wasn’t surprised at all. Somehow I had a complete assurance that I would be able to read the Book of Mormon if it were the Lord’s will.

After only one month, I finished that great book of scripture. The Lord and the Book of Mormon had taught me how to read again. More important, my faith in Heavenly Father increased, as did my testimony of prayer and the scriptures.

I’m grateful that my dad challenged me to read the Book of Mormon. Because of that challenge, I was able to understand that Heavenly Father can bless us in our trials. I’m also grateful for miracles—not only for the miraculous coming forth of the Book of Mormon, or for the miraculous Restoration of the gospel, but for miracles that continue to happen today to people like me.

Illustrated by Sam Lawlor

The cuts and scrapes would heal. The head injury was another matter. Could I really read the Book of Mormon in two months? There was only one way to find out. I’d have to try my best and depend on the Lord to help me.