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The Best Books for Conference and the Rest of Our Lives

These new books encompass reading for enjoyment – along with inspiration and information –and will engage young and old.  I’ll begin with books geared for ages two to seven.

My First Book of Temples, by Deanna Draper Buck, and illustrated by Casey Nelson, is actually a board book that fills every page with painted images of some of the temples from around the world, as well as showing a baptismal font and a portion of the celestial room. This exceptional book briefly goes through the purpose and history of temples.

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When I Take the Sacrament, I Remember Jesus, by C. J. Gudmundson, and wonderfully painted by Shawna J. C. Tenney, helps young children remember what to think and ponder about while the Sacrament is being passed. The many reverent thoughts conveyed showcase what youngsters may ponder and are painted with vivid colors and fill the pages. The first two pages show two young children taking the bread on one side and on the opposite there are the Savior’s 12 disciples breaking bread with Him. The text states the title of the book. Another open spread, states “I remember Jesus said, ‘Love one another.’ One side has the Savior helping the Samaritan and on the opposite page these same children are visiting an ill person in the hospital. This is a must book for young families as it will surely help children understand why they need to be especially reverent during the Sacrament.

These next books are good for ages eight through twelve. Janitors: Secrets of New Forest Academy, by Tyler Whitesides, is the second in this exciting series. The same protagonists, Spencer and Daisy, are being sent off to a private school as the evil Bureau of Educational Maintenance (or BEM) is searching their home and neighborhood for them. However, once these main characters get to their new school they find some bad people are waiting there for them as well. It’s not necessary to read the first book to catch up on the opening adventure, but you’re surely going to want to read it, as it’s as exciting as this second book.

Jacob’s Journal of Doom, by Kennet Pike and Isaac Stewart, actually has the byline on the cover that sets the basis of the storyline: “The Good, the Bad and the Hilarious Life of an Almost Deacon”. This book is written in the same format as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” but with a strong moral message of prayer.  There is still much to laugh about as you read how Jacob deals with his sisters, school and bullies, but it all comes together with a nice theme throughout. And the great pencil illustrations found throughout by Stewart help move the story along.

New Testament Parables, Learning Cards, illustrated by David Harston, is a collection of cards with pictures on one side and the heading of the parable on the other side. There is a quick synopsis of what the parable is about, along with correlation to gospel principals.  Concluding this summary of 4 or 5 bullet points, there is a question posed asking the reading how it applies to him/her. This is a fabulous way to learn about these New Testament parables and would be perfect for Family Home Evenings.

The 13th Reality: The Void of Mist and Thunder, by James Dashner, is the fourth and concluding book in this series and it wraps up all the loose ends that have accumulated throughout the series. Atticus is not able to escape the Nonex where the evil Mistress Jane and Mr. Chu are also stuck. How will he ever get out?  He finds he must work with them in order for all to escape.  A terrible void has opened up and ghastly monsters are prevailing throughout the Realities. Will good conquer evil at last?

The Kindling (Middle School Magic), by Braden Bell, has thirteen-year-old Connor discovering some very strange powers inside him when he encounters a school bully.  Now a few teachers and even the principal are about to help him with his powers as they “kindled” years before and understand what is happening to Connor. This story is very well written, exciting and perfect for that reluctant reader, as it’s definitely a page-turner!

From the Dust, by Michael Mercer, has a comic book layout with multiple pictures on every page. This first book is titled “Jerusalem’s Darkest Hour” and is based on the King of Babylon as he thrusts his power over Judah. “From the Dust #2” is titled “Nephi’s First Hunt”. The pictures are magnificent and the lessons learned are even better. You can find more about this on www.bookofmormoncomic.com.

The rest of the books are geared for older readers. The Rent Collector, by Camron Wright, is an amazing and inspirational story based on a true-life account about how lives change for the better while living in a Cambodian waste dump. Ki Lim and Sang Ly live day-by-day struggling to survive as they scavenge for food and life in their trash.  Their child is very sick and when all seems almost too difficult, an unfeeling rent collector demands more money. How Sang Ly strives to learn how to read to better her family and save her child would be enlightening to all.

Let It Go:  A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness, by Chris Williams, is a story you’d better be prepared to become emotional while reading.  Mr. Williams wrote about his journey of ultimate forgiveness after he lost his pregnant wife and two children in a car crash that resulted from a drunk-driver. This story will portray this sacrifice with the author explaining how he was able to forgive the young teenage driver and forever allowing him to live in peace!

What’s On The Other Side? What the Gospel Teaches Us About the Spirit World, by Brent L. Top, would be a wonderful book to give someone who is grieving over a loved one. The book gives scriptural accounts and prophets’ teachings that delve into life after death helping explain the glorious parting of the veil into the world beyond and with family members waiting there. This book also teaches about the importance of living better in the here and now.

The God Who Weeps: How Mormons Make Sense of Life, by Terryl Givens and Fiona Givens, helps explain our religion and the gospel of Jesus Christ through 5 explicit and explained chapters. With the upcoming Presidential election, and a high interest in “Mormons”, this is a perfect book to help explain our beliefs. It’s also an excellent resource.

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