There aren't many activities that can bind a family together better than reading together. Beginning each day with reading the scriptures and ending each day with a family read-out-loud is a perfect beginning and ending for families. Here are some outstanding books geared for families to help wind down a full day. The first three are picture books and are good for ages 3 to 7. The rest of the books are helpful for parents to create a peaceful loving home.
A Dinosaur Goes to Church, by Candas M. Elder, and brightly illustrated by Jennifer Eichelberger, is a clever rhyming tale about a youngster who loves to play outside. Mommy reminds him that after he bathes that "Tomorrow is the Sabbath; / I expect you to behave". Upon first seeing the young boy, you actually see a dinosaur and as the rhyming story progresses, the boy becomes different dinosaurs. However, when he becomes more obedient, helpful and behaving, as Christ would want him to behave, he is now pictured as a boy. Young children will gain much from this book about reverence and how we should behave in the chapel.
Seek and Ye Shall Find: What's Hidden in the Golden Plates, by Val Chadwick Bagley, has incorporated on each page hidden pictures for youngsters to enjoy finding. Each open spread splashes with vivid color and has a different location or subject matter relating to various Book of Mormon stories. For instance, on one page the subject is Kings. You are to look for both good and bad kings such as King Benjamin and King Noah. There are also other objects to locate as well as a certain amount of items such as on this page: 25 jewels. There is much to learn, as well as having fun, making this book perfect for families.
The Not Even Once Club, by Wendy Watson Nelson, and brilliantly illustrated by Brandon Dorman, has a theme that has caused some controversy. There are four kids in a treehouse club when a new boy shows up. He's told that to get into the NEO (not even once) club he must pass a test and then make the pledge to "never break the word of wisdom, lie, cheat, steal, do drugs, bully others, dress immodestly, or break the law of chastity". This is where the controversy is located. Some have commented that children shouldn't be placed under such severe promises when they are just kids and that children do make mistakes. This is what I take from this promising book: that if children put in their minds and hearts the promise to do well in specific areas – they'll rise to their promise. This mind-set can only help in today's difficult world! There's also an excellent guide for parents and children found in the back of the book discussing some of the problems our children face today such as modesty and pornography.
Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power, by Donald W. Parry, is a most up-lifting book filled with almost angelic prose about angels. Throughout history, scriptures and statements of our modern-day prophets, angels are always at the forefront. This superb book has an appendix and sources cited filling the last twenty pages of the author's laborious research on the subject. Some of the chapters include defining what angels are, what powers they are given and the missions they've been given.
52 Life-Changing Questions from the Book of Mormon, by John Hilton III and Brad Wilcox, poses 52 short chapters with 52 questions from the Book of Mormon that can change your life. When Joseph Smith gave us a promise that we would get closer to God by reading the Book of Mormon than through any other book, he was telling us that this book gives us the tools to change our lives for the better. It gives us answers to questions pondered or prayed about. Every short chapter in this book begins with a question, based on a scripture, and the rest of the chapter answers the question posed. The final statement in each chapter is actually the same question posed at the beginning of each chapter. This book would be especially good for teens through young adults.
Written on Our Hearts (Invitations From the Old Testament), by Emily Freeman, and illustrated with black and white etchings sprinkled throughout by Dan Burr, takes amazing, life-changing stories from the Old Testament and retells them to fit our lives today. The applications are powerful and life-changing. There are stories of overcoming great challenges, enduring through difficult times and trusting in the Lord. These chapters are short, but very powerful, and are full of meaning! The etchings found throughout are beautiful and a perfect fit to this perfect book.
Follow Me to Zion (Stories From the Willie Handcart Pioneers), by Andrew D. Olsen and Jolene S. Allphin, and painted beautifully by Julie Rogers, is filled with the most compelling, courageous stories from the members of that company. The fact that James G. Willie left with 500 handcart pioneers to cover the 1,300 miles of plains in order to reach their destination of Salt Lake was amazing in itself. But the fact that their trek would be impacted by the arrival of an early winter was beyond what many of us can comprehend. This well-written book brings to light stories of many of these members, so that we will never forget them! This book will also help inspire us to live up to our Godly potential!
The last three books are small in size and width but packed with inspiration, guidance and love. They are all part of the "Time Out Classics" and because of the small size, they would be an easy fit inside a purse or briefcase. These new classics are: You Are More, by Carmen Rasmusen Herbert, The Slow-Ripening Fruits of Mothering, by Emily Watts and Extending Forgiveness, by Virginia H. Pearce.