Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
If you occasionally review Catholic books and films, as I do, publishers gradually find out – and your mailbox fills each week with excellent titles, books that touch your heart and books that deepen your faith. And if you're like me, you sometimes fall behind on the job – writing instead about current events or the saint of the day, and missing the opportunity to share the books I've found truly useful and important.
So today, I kick off a quick series, recommending some of the great books clamoring for attention on my bookshelves. Books for kids, books for moms, books to deepen your prayer life, books on theology and travel and political science... Whether you're embracing Jolabokaflod, Iceland's “Christmas Book Flood,” and giving gifts of books and chocolate on Christmas Eve, or whether you just like to include some thoughtful titles under your Christmas tree, I hope you'll find my suggestions helpful.
Today, I feature books for Catholic kids and the people who love them:
The Strangers at the Manger by Lisa M. Hendey (Servant Publications). The fifth of Lisa's popular “Chime Travelers” series, this book was originally published in 2016, but it's about the Christmas story, and your children will love it! Lisa makes the Holy Family come alive, showing Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as real people who lived, worked, and prayed with simple and humble faith.
My Picture Book of the Catholic Faith by Maite Roche (Ignatius Press). Learning about the faith can be fun! Share Bible stories, explain the sacraments, and introduce your little ones to Christian living in a journey of faith that comes alive in colorful pictures and simple words.
Who Is Jesus? His Life, His Land, His Time by Gaelle Tertrais and Adeline Avril (Ignatius Press). This book captivates with colorful illustrations and fascinating facts. It answers questions such as: Who were Jesus' grandparents? What was his house like? What kind of fish did Peter catch in the Sea of Galilee? What kind of trees grew along the roads where Jesus walked? Recommended for children 9 and older.
Jesus Stories from the Bible. This book has been translated from the French for Ignatius Press, and features text by Charlotte Grossetête and illustrations by Sibylle Delacroix, Dominique Mertens and Eric Puybaret. It's intended for children age 5 and older – and it's the perfect storybook for Mom or Dad to read in the evening.
Saints for Boys: A First Book for Little Catholic Boys (Neumann Press). Intended for boys from preschool through the second grade level, Saints for Boys includes illustrations on every page. The stories of hero saints like Aloysius Gonzaga, Vincent de Paul, Francis of Assisi and others will inspire little boys to virtue; and they'll also learn important prayers.
Saints for Girls: A First Book for Little Catholic Girls is the girls' counterpart to the above book. For young ladies, the saints whose illustrated stories will inspire include Frances Cabrini, Helena, Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of the Little Flower of Jesus, and Bernadette.
George Washington: His Legacy of Faith, Character, and Courage. By the age of seven, children will most likely have heard about our nation's first president, George Washington. This book helps them to discover that the animating force behind his heroic life was deep and abiding faith and trust in God. I especially liked that Ignatius Press included George Washington's Sunday morning prayer:
Almighty God, and most merciful Father...
give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word,
that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation, and peace...
Grant that I may hear it with reverence,
receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith,
and that it may accomplish in me, gracious God,
the good work for which thou has sent it.
Bless my family, kindred, friends, and country;
be our God and guide us this day and forever for his sake,
who lay down in the grave and arose again for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Side by Side: A Catholic Mother-Daughter Journal by Lori Ubowski and Ava Ubowski (Ave Maria Press). Moms! This unique and beautifully designed journal will help you and your tween daughter share your life and faith with each other. It's divided into three sections: celebrating the mother-daughter bond; celebrating our faith; and key to becoming your best self. There's lots of room for writing reflections, answering questions, and lots of opportunities to get to know one another better.
What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says “Clean Your Room!” (Survival Series for Kids). This one is a bonus – not a recently published book, but one from 1982 that's stood the test of time. When my children were small, I found this book in a local bookstore and bought it – but I was afraid that they'd be bored or offended by such a self-serving gift. Not so! Instead, to my surprise and delight, they cleaned their rooms! The organizational tips and deep-cleaning guidelines encouraged them to surprise me with shining bookshelves and neatly made beds. The book teaches young girls and boys how to make a bed, properly hang and fold clothes, dust, vacuum, and systematically clean a dirty, messy, or disorganized bedroom. The book came to mind recently when our adult son found it online and ordered it again, 35 years after first putting it to good use. Since it's an older book, it's available only from third-party sellers. Trust me, moms and dads, it's a treasure!
Mary Stories from the Bible written by Charlotte Grossetête and illustrated by Sibylle Delacroix, Dominique Mertens and Eric Puybaret. The life of our Blessed Mother unfolds for young children in this beautiful book. There are five stories from Mary's life: The Childhood of Mary, The Annunciation, The Birth of Jesus, The Wedding Feast at Cana, and The Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Young readers can read and enjoy the book on their own; or parents can read aloud to younger children.
The Gospel Told by the Animals, written by Bénédicte Delelis and illustrated by Éric Puybaret, is a fanciful book about the Scriptures, told from the vantage point of the animals. The old ox wonders, “Who is this child who has just been born in my stable?” The fish asks himself, “Who is this man whom even the winds and the sea obey?” And the trembling little donkey marvels, “Who then is this king riding on my back?” Twelve animals in all bring the Gospel to life for small children.
Watch Over Me Little Angel introduces young children to their guardian angel through beautiful illustrations and simple answers to their questions. It shows that God loves us so much, he gave each of us an angel to watch over us – and that angel has been at our side every day, since the day of our birth.
My First Prayers for the Whole Year is another treasure by writer and illustrator Maïte Roche. This charming little book will be your child's praying companion all year long, with 29 simple prayers for morning and bedtime, ordinary days and holy days. The heartfelt prayers in this book will lead your child into a lifelong journey of intimacy with God.