A book review by Elizabeth Ostler.
My personal scripture study over the past year has consisted of reading all of the conference talks given by women since 1971. It felt radical. I was hesitant to tell people that I wasn’t reading the standard works. Even though we are taught that conference talks are modern day scripture, I’m embarrassed to admit that I wondered if that applied to women. I suspect that some of this came from there being so few women readily apparent in the scriptures and rarely having a woman the primary subject of study in our Sunday School classes. Efforts are being made to make women more visible today in our worship and instruction, but what about our scriptural foremothers?
Last year, Bethany Brady Spalding and McArthur Krishna published their children’s book, Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible showcasing many ancient righteous woman. Thankfully, they are back at it again. This time with the Book of Mormon. In the introduction to their newest book, Girls Who Choose God:Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon, Spalding and Krishna state that, “We personally feel it is vital for Latter-Day Saints to learn about and celebrate the women in the Book of Mormon.” And go on to explain, “Women’s choices impact the entire human family…We wrote this book with the intent of helping families develop the skill of seeing and emulating strong women.”
Spalding and Krishna combed through the 531 pages of the Book of Mormon and identified over 150 passages specific to women. In this book they focus on 10 different women or groups of women. Some of these women are named and familiar to us, such as Sariah, the matriarch, and Abish, the daring missionary. Others are women who are only spoken of in a fleeting verse, like the women who clapped for joy at the waters of Mormon.
Each woman is introduced with a brief narrative which leads to a choice she has to make. The choices are clearly presented. With a turn of the page, the reader discovers the woman’s decision and the outcome. I found in answering these questions I got to connect emotionally and intellectually to these women. In reflecting on when I’ve chosen faith I identified with a Lamanite Queen, or at times when I’ve chosen to come to Christ I too am a Girl blessed by Jesus.
This book is beautifully and colorfully illustrated by Kathleen Peterson. The textured brush strokes and vibrant color palette create a uniformed world while simultaneously making each woman, even those in groups, distinct. The red cheeks and noses are charming. Oh, how I want a copy of this picture with Jesus and the children to hang in my home.
Reading this book increased my female literacy, since I couldn’t help but think about who isn’t mentioned in these stories. As I was reading about the Mothers of the stripling warriors, I thought about the sisters to these brave young men. Were they any less righteous and courageous than their brothers? Wouldn’t their mothers have also taught them to love God? Suddenly, a book that at times seems devoid of women became richly populated.
Though categorized as a children’s book, it really is an everyone book.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Christmas presents!
LIVE INTERVIEW BROADCAST with Bethany Brady Spalding and McArthur Krishna.
Join us as we speak with the authors of Girls Who Choose God:Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon as we discuss the book, women in the scriptures, and choosing God today. We’ll also be answering your questions.
Tuesday, October 27th
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST
Mark your calendars and start getting excited.
Join our mailing list to stay informed about this and other events.