Mormons are encouraged, from birth, to educate themselves as much as possible.

Elder Orson F. Whitney, an apostle of the Jesus Christ, said:

It suffices me to know, and to testify, that this people are the friends, not the foes, of education; that they are seekers after wisdom, lovers of light and truth, universal Truth, which, like the waters of earth, or the sunbeams of heaven, has but one Source, let its earthly origin be what it may.

“Truth is truth, wher’er ’tis found,
On Christian or on heathen ground,”

and worthy of our love and admiration, whether far or near, high or low, whether blazing as a star in the blue vault of heaven, or springing like a floweret from the soil. (Bishop Orson F. Whitney, Home Literature at the Y.M.M.I.A. Conference, June 3, 1888, and subsequently published July, 1888 in The Contributor)

Book MormonMormons are a curious people and we like to learn. As there are different levels of interest in education in the world, so too are there in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, referred to as the Mormons.

Mormons have three institutions of higher learning as well as being associated with, while privately owned, numerous private colleges, universities and high schools. We have been told by the Lord, as has every person ever born to this earth, to:

Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” — D&C 88:118

God has given us books of scripture, if we are an illiterate people how we are to learn, grow and succeed during our mortal probation? So yes, from Joseph Smith himself and every prophet, apostle and general authority thereafter we have been urged to educate ourselves.

A natural outreach of that is the onslaught of writers of fiction and nonfiction which come onto the market every year.

Elder Whitney went on to say:

Wake up! ye sons and daughters of God! Trim your lamps and go forth to meet your distiny [sic]. A world awaits you: rich and poor, high and low, learned and unlearned. All must be preached to; all must be sought after; all must be left without excuse. And whither we cannot go, we must send; where we cannot speak we must write; and in order to win men with our writings we must know how and what to write. If the learned will only listen to the learned, God will send them learned men, to meet them on their own ground, and show them that “Mormonism,” the Gospel of Christ, is not only the gospel of truth, but the gospel of intelligence and culture. The Lord is not above doing this. He is merciful to all men, not willing that any should perish. or have it to say they were unfairly dealt with. For over fifty years the gospel has been preached to the poor and lowly. It will yet go to the high and mighty, even to kings and nobles, and penetrate and climb to places hitherto deemed inaccessible. Our literature will help to take it there; for this, like all else with which we have to do, must be made subservient to the building up of Zion. (Ibid)

And for those who would make their living at writing he promised:

We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God’s ammunition is not exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God’s name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in earth. Let the smile of derision wreathe the face of scorn; let the frown of hatred darken the brow of bigotry. Small things are the seeds of great things, and, like the acorn that brings forth the oak, or the snowflake that forms the avalanche, God’s kingdom will grow, and on wings of light and power soar to the summit of its destiny. (Ibid)

Elder Whitney’s words have become the watchcry of Mormon writers, even inspiring the organization of The Whitney Awards, an award for excellence in fiction written by Mormon writers.

The LDS (Mormon) market regularly publishes books which sell between 3,000 and 10,000 copies, as well as those books which have sold into the hundreds of thousands and millions. Each of us, for I am one of those Mormon authors, in our hearts yearn to fulfill the words of Elder Whitney. Each of us work, constantly honing our craft that we might fulfill the full measure of our creation with the gifts given to us.

So yes, Mormons are a literate people. We have scriptorians (those who know the scriptures like the back of their hands,) theologians (those who know the Gospel of Jesus Christ deeply and well,) professors of science, medicine, education, history, students of life and all the beauty she has to offer, our search for knowledge stretches into the farthest reaches of the universe and lingers in the corner of a quiet garden.

So yes, we are a literate people and only intend to become moreso.

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