Reading, a Sacred Privilege

By President Spencer W. Kimball

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    When I was very young I read Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe and other animal stories, and these inspired me with a desire to be kind to animals. Robinson Crusoe stirred my imagination. Adventure stories came from the Youth’s Companion. I was still very young when The Last Days of Pompeii fell into my grasp, and it so stimulated my interest that I was never satisfied until I visited the buried city in 1937 and with my own eyes saw the devastation wrought by old Vesuvius.

    My father, Andrew Kimball, long served as a member of the Deseret Sunday School Union Board and always received the bound volumes of the Juvenile Instructor. I took much pleasure in going back through the years, reading the articles and the continued stories in them.

    My greatest adventure, however, was the reading of the Holy Bible. From infancy I had enjoyed the simplified and illustrated Bible stories, but the original Bible seemed so interminable in length, so difficult to understand, that I avoided it until a challenge came to me from Sister Susa Young Gates. She was the speaker at the MIA meeting of stake conference and gave a discourse on the value of reading the Bible. In conclusion she asked for a showing of hands of all who had read it through. The hands that were raised out of that large congregation were so few and so timid! Some of them tried to explain by saying, “We haven’t read it through but we have studied many parts of it.”

    I was shocked into an unalterable determination to read that great book. As soon as I reached home after the meeting I began with the first verse of Genesis and continued faithfully every day. Most of the reading was done in my attic bedroom that I occupied alone. I burned considerable midnight oil and read long hours when I was thought to be asleep.

    Approximately a year later I reached the last verses in Revelation:

    “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

    What a satisfaction it was to me to realize I had read the Bible through from beginning to end! What exultation of spirit! And what joy in the overall picture I had received of its contents!

    For more than half of a century now I have continued to be grateful to Sister Gates for the inspiration that provoked me to read the Holy Bible my first time.

    I commend it to you, young and old.