Over the years we've tried to read the scriptures together as a family with varying degrees of success. Sometimes we read together for three nights in a row before things fell apart. Other times we kept it up for a month or two, with this kid or that kid missing half the time because of a busy schedule or unwillingness. We keep trying.
But there was a time, many years ago, when we read as a family every night for months. With almost everyone there every time. (Yes, my kids were much younger, much less busy, and much more within my control.)
We read about a chapter a night with each person taking one verse as we went around the circle. (There were fights, tears, and lots of bartering over who got to read the last verse.) During this time I learned some important lessons:
1. I learned that my children each respond to correction differently. My children were all early readers. And very advanced. But let's not kid ourselves. The scriptures can be rough. Those are some big words that you just don't hear anywhere else. So sometimes they would stumble. One daughter would turn to me as soon as she got stuck, looking for guidance. Another would try, struggle, try again, slow down and work on it, then get it right. One daughter stubbornly insisted on doing it her way, whether it was right or not. She'd read what she thought it said. Too often, when she was wrong, one of the other kids or I corrected her. (I wish I could go back in time and do that less.) She got so angry with us for correcting her. I learned then that I need to tread carefully when correcting my children, especially over something that doesn't really matter, in order for them to feel confident finding their own way. I also learned that with time, they will find their own way -- even if it's not the way I would have chosen. But the fact that I wouldn't have chosen it doesn't make it less right for them.
2. I want them to come to me when they have questions. Frequently, as we read, things didn't make sense. Like I said, the scriptures can be tough. And although some nights they just wanted to get through it and didn't care what it said, other times they wanted to understand. When that happened they asked me to explain. They were young and still believed that I knew the answers. They knew I wouldn't lie to them or make stuff up. I hope I can always be worthy of that trust.
3. I want to have the answers when the do come to me. There are many things I'm smart about. And there are some I struggle with. When it comes to the scriptures I have both strengths and weaknesses. I believe I interpret fairly well. But I do not remember who it was that did what. Or where that story is located. That part has always been difficult for me. I remember the moment when I realized I needed to quit expecting someone else to have this knowledge for me. I remember wanting to have it for myself. It does not stick for me like it does for some. I have to read regularly if I want to have a scriptural well for my children to drink from when they thirst after righteousness.
There were so many lessons. Many from the reading material and many from the experience. I still learn every time I read the scriptures. And every time I'm with my children. And I am so grateful.