Advent is right around the corner, so it is a natural time for parents and all those with children in their lives to start thinking about Christmas presents. I have long subscribed to the “Something to wear, something to read, something they want, something they need” giving formula, so I polled the Milwaukee Catholic Mamas group for their favorite faith-based books for children.
Saints and Devotions
Looking to the example of the saints and our Blessed Mother can encourage children to live holy lives. Here are four mom-recommended titles:
“Saints Around the World” – Meg Hunter-Kilmer
“I was so impressed by the depth of diversity in her book of saints, told in a way children can understand and deeply connect with.” – Chelsea D.
“Saintly Rhymes for Modern Times” – Meghan Bausch
“Catchy, fun poems that are easy for kids (and parents) to memorize and learn about these saints.” – Janet G.
“Our Lady’s Wardrobe” – Anthony DeStefano
“We love this book. It really helps children fall in love with the Blessed Mother. This one especially speaks to little girls and true beauty.” – Jamie G.
“Sitting Like a Saint: Catholic Mindfulness for Kids” – Dr. Gregory and Barbra Bottaro
From the back cover: “These exercises are an effective way of teaching our children, through the bodies God gave us, how to accept our feelings without criticizing ourselves for having them, and at the same time how to control our expression of them. We pray that in teaching your children about God and the saints who have loved him in the past, you will also experience a bit of that peace.”
Mass is the source and summit of our lives as Catholics. Helping my little ones to understand the Mass and its importance is one of the most important things I will ever do. These books can help.
“Father Ben Gets Ready for Mass” and “I Went to Mass, What Did I See?” – Katie Warner, illustrated by Meg Whalen
I cannot count how many times we have read the Father Ben book, and now, each Mass, my children remind themselves that they are bringing “watching eyes, listening ears, open minds, and quiet hearts” with them. They also love to “blow” out the candles at the end.
“The Mass for Children” – Fr. Jude Winkler, O.F.M. Conv. and “My Picture Missal” – Lawrence G. Lovasik
Chances are, if you have visited a Catholic bookstore, you have seen one or both of these books. They are inexpensive, and small enough to fit inside a regular purse (for the days you aren’t hauling in an entire diaper bag) but packed with beautiful illustrations and the Mass prayers.
“My First Interactive Mass Book” – Jennifer Sharpe, Illustrated by Candace Camling
You can keep little hands busy with wheels (spin to give Father the correct color vestments), flaps and tracing, while still sharing the prayers we say in Mass and simple explanations for why we pray them.
“The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith” – Josephine Nobisso, Illustrated by Kataline Szgedi
“It’s a beautiful story of the value of the Mass.” – Moira M.
Available on the Magnificat website, though beware: if you have more than one kid able to read, you will probably have to get multiple subscriptions. My kids each wanted their own, but I suppose this is a wonderful problem to have. Each issue comes with the readings of that particular Sunday or Holy day.
Members of the Milwaukee Catholic Mamas group have shared some of their children’s favorites:
“A is for Angel: The Alphabet in Sacred Art” – Adriene, Katie and Jaimee Keogler
“Love introducing the kids to sacred, beautiful art and not just cartoonish illustrations in most children’s books.” – Janet G.
“Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids (Catholic Stories for Kids)” – Kathryn Griffin Swegart
“These are real stories of Eucharistic miracles but told from the perspective of a child. Super awesome book and well done.” – Susan D.
“Building Blocks of Theology of the Body for Kids (series)” – Monica Ashour, Illustrated by Marilee Harrald-Pilz (ages 4-7)
“I bought these books when my 5-year-old son got into that ‘curious’ phase. I thought they did a great job of helping me to explain that he needs to keep his body to himself without introducing guilt or shame about the body God gave him.” – Anonymous
“Catechism of the Seven Sacraments” – Kevin and Mary O’ Neill
You’ll hear this one referred to as the “Lego Catechism.” It is another great gift for those preparing for any Sacrament.
I remember purchasing my son’s first bible, but did not realize that even at the children’s level, it was important to choose a Catholic bible. One day, while driving along and listening to an audio children’s bible, I discovered there are some Protestant bibles that number the Ten Commandments differently than we do. The choices listed here from Ascension Press are all authentically Catholic.
“My First Catholic Bible Stories Board Book”
Recommended for ages 1-3, this is one you’re going to have to pre-order from the Ascension Press website. But if it is anything like the other bibles in the Great Adventure Series, I am sure it will be fantastic.
“My Catholic Picture Bible Stories” – Jan Godfrey and Angela Jolliffe
Recommended for ages 4-7, and was a finalist for the Excellence in Publishing Awards: Young Readers Category.
“Great Adventure Kids Catholic Bible”
Recommended for ages 8-12, I bought this one for my son’s First Holy Communion, and really appreciate that someone has finally put together a bible for this reading group — he wasn’t quite ready for an adult bible, but has outgrown the picture bibles of his early childhood. This one suits him perfectly.