Leave it to the Daughter of St. Paul…when I first heard about their “TOB for Tots” books, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical.

I mean, REALLY? Can this be possible?

As it turns out, yes.

I’ve read John Paul II’s Theology of the Body twice. I’ve studied commentaries on it and I’ve resolved that someday, in a different season of my life, I shall attend one of those institutes on it.

I’ve watched it become popular and even become a bit of a buzzword in some Catholic circles in the decade-plus since I’ve been Catholic. I’ve tried to explain it and, even more importantly, to internalize and live what it teaches.

There have been a number of resources for teens and even pre-teens that I’ve seen. This is the first I’ve seen anything for kids as young as toddler age, though.

There are three books in the series, Everybody Has a Body: God Made Boys and Girls, Every Body Is Smart: God Helps me Listen and Choose, and Every Body Is a Gift: God Made Us to Love. They are board books, 7 by 7 inches, designed for children in the 2 to 5 year age range.

When I curled up with my four-year-old to test them out, I started hesitantly enough. They were delightfully illustrated and really done at a level that was perfect for him.

Everybody Has a Body covers the differences between boys and girls. Granted, my little guy has observed these things on his own, having older sisters and all, but this book does it well. 

In Every Body Is Smart, the storyline covers how our bodies are made to tell us what we need, like when we’re sleepy or hungry, and how we can make choices with our bodies, such as waiting or sitting instead of screaming or running around.

The final of the three books, Every Body Is a Gift, really does a great job of turning that phrase “you are a gift” into something non-sentimental and tangible. In fact, I think this is probably my favorite of the three, though all of them are good.

The illustrations are colorful and my guy was engaged as we read the books together. 

I couldn’t help but think, reading these books, of that adage we writers have: “I would have written something shorter, but I didn’t have the time.”

Another book that’s been popular when I trek to Adoration with my four-year-old is The Beautiful Story of the Bible (Magnifcat/Ignatius Press). It’s simply told Bible stories, in one continuous thread (meaning no titles), with full-color, full-page illustrations.

The stories aren’t badly done, and the illustrations are striking. It’s produced on heavy stock paper, and it’s hardcover, so however hard we are on books we love (and we are!), I think this one will make the cut and last a while.

And at the end, there’s a fun little treat: the very last page asks if you found the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, on each page. I hadn’t noticed that when I was reading it with my kids, so I couldn’t resist randomly flipping through to see if I could find it. It’s there…and what a great subtext for the book!

All in all, these are great books to share with the kids in your life.