This afternoon at lunch, my angelic three-year-old daughter said causally to her quesadilla, “I’m going to kill you by plunging my spoon into your heart.” With two active preschoolers, chaos often reigns in my home, but this was enough to catch my attention. Upon further questioning, it was revealed that Elena had no special feud with bastardized Mexican foods, but was merely taking to heart the wholesome lesson she had attentively absorbed from our scripture reading the night before. You guessed it, Teancum and Amalickiah, and the fateful javelin to the heart.
Elena loves the Book of Mormon. She reminds us to read every night at dinner faithfully, and as the anecdote above illustrates, she absorbs quite a bit; she frequently selects the BoM audio tapes to listen to as she goes to sleep; she loves to inspect the illustrated BoM storybooks we own. Tonight we went out to dinner (Mexican, incidentally), and she insisted that we bring the BoM along to read. I haven’t tried especially hard to instill this interest in her, other than reading at her request and supplying the audiovisual materials. While I’m glad she loves the scriptures, I’m starting to wonder whether the Book of Mormon is appropriate for a pre-schooler. I ruthlessly censor the stories and videos she watches (I think nothing of skipping the part where Frances gets scared of monsters in “Bedtime for Frances,” for example), and I’m starting to wonder whether I should censor the scriptures, too.
We made the decision to read the standard text, rather than one of the several family versions available, because we want our children to become literate in the scriptural idiom. But is it wise to expose such a young mind to such intense and violent material? And is it fair to immerse her so deeply before she has critical thinking skills? How do you do scriptures with young children?