I love the Book of Mormon. And I love audio books. The first time I listened to the Book of Mormon on cassette tape (yeah, I’m that old), it was a life changing experience.
It totally opened my eyes to the scriptures and helped me develop a love for the Lord like I’d never experienced before. The characters, places, and stories came to life, and I could see and hear them in my mind vividly.
So you can imagine my disappointment when I pop in the Book of Mormon CD for my kids, and they lose interest within seconds. I mean, okay, so they’re all under seven years old, and I was like fourteen when I first listened—but still.
My wife, Jenni, and I have audio scriptures playing in our house all the time, but one day I was reading the scriptures out loud to my kids the way I sometimes do secretly: Loud, with animated narration and passion, as if I was in a Shakespeare competition.
By the time I finished an entire chapter, they were still sitting there, listening. That had never happened before. Then they started asking questions and talking about the story. That had only ever happened in my pre-child-raising imagination.
That got me really thinking. Aren’t there any audio scriptures out there for kids that read like that? I searched everywhere, but I couldn’t find any.
I was also writing my book at the time, called Scripture Study Made Awesome, where I discuss all kinds of unique methods of studying the scriptures. I even wrote a bunch of ideas for using audio scriptures in personal and family study.
But something kept bugging me. There aren’t any audio scriptures for kids. Sure, there are scripture readers, where they summarize the stories, and even talk about the principles taught in the scriptures. But I didn’t want my kids to just hear the summarized stories. I wanted them to love the scriptures as they were written in the book. I wanted them to love the language of the scriptures, and hone in on the individual words and phrases that give the stories and principles real depth and power.
Of course, being as young as they are, it’s hard for kids to keep attention for very long—especially when the words in the scriptures aren’t in modern language. But my experience reading with my kids in the animated tone made me realize that it’s not so much the words and phrases that are the problem, but mostly it’s the tone used.
Have you ever heard Goldilocks and the Three Bears read with the same drab tone we sometimes use for reading the scriptures? And without having the pictures?
Yeah, they’d bore of that, too.
So I decided to make an audio Book of Mormon for kids. I wouldn’t change a single word or phrase—just straight through, word-for-word audio scriptures, but in an animated, excited voice, with music and sound effects, doing all I could to keep it awesome and fun.
So I made 1 Nephi 1 using the audio equipment I use to do my professional music recordings. Then, when it was ready, I plugged my computer into the living room stereo, pressed play, and stepped away to see what would happen.
Over the next thirty seconds, the kids, one after another, moseyed into the room to hear what was going on. Within a minute, they were crowded around my computer’s blank screen, listening intently to the scriptures. I’d never seen anything like it—except when we put in Finding Nemo.
As chapter 1 came to a close, my five-year-old son said, “Daddy, can we do another one?”
I laughed out loud, I was so excited. My kids were begging for MORE scriptures! My only disappointment was that I didn’t already have the next one ready. So the next morning I got to work, and over the next several days, created chapter 2. They loved it again, so I got to work and created chapter 3, and they were laughing and listening, and asking questions—like, really good questions, the kind I’d imagined kids asking in my pre-child-raising naivety.
I shared the chapters I’d made on the Internet, with a phenomenal response from others who had similar experiences with their kids, and many even suggested that the adults in their families were enjoying them every bit as much as the kids.
So I made chapter 4, with the same result—except that this time I found myself getting some fresh insights. The scriptures were becoming even more alive for me, too.
I only had one major problem. Making these was hard work. They took a lot of time, and as a self-employed musician and author, I don’t have much of it.
I tried to think of some way I could do this that wouldn’t take years and years to finish the Book of Mormon.
Then someone suggested I do Kickstarter. I researched, and found that it was probably the best solution possible. So here’s the plan:
My desire is to make the Audio Book of Mormon Made Awesome available to everyone for free. I’ve been too blessed by the scriptures to offer it back only to those who have the money and can afford to pay. I want it available to everyone.
If I can get funded, I’ll use half of my working day creating the Audio Book of Mormon Made Awesome. The funding I’ve suggested should be enough to get me through 1st and 2nd Nephi in about two months—about one chapter a day, Monday through Friday. Plus I’ll make some fun activities and coloring pages for kids to do while they listen.
That will complete this project. 1st and 2nd Nephi is a lot to do, and if we can do this, your kids will be enjoying the Isaiah chapters before they can even read!
If this project funds, we’ll do another to complete the next chunk of the Book of Mormon. (I should be able to do the whole Book of Mormon in 5 projects.)
If we can’t get it funded, it’s going to take a dreadfully long time to complete the Book of Mormon. Your kids might be grown before it’s even available. How sad would that be?
We only have until the end of May, so pop on over to the Audio Book of Mormon for Kids Kickstarter project, and let’s get it funded!