National Vocation Awareness Week: Good Reads on Religious Life for Kids

Children’s Book Picks

Six books for young readers offer inspiration.
Six books for young readers offer inspiration. (photo: Courtesy covers)

Did you know it’s National Vocation Awareness Week? Here are some good reads for kids — and teens, too — over these days.


Brides of Christ

Written and Illustrated by The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles with Jamey Toner

Sophia Institute Press, 2023 

72 pages, $19.95

“Knock, knock, knockity-knock! / ‘It’s eight o’clock,’ the Sister said. / ‘Who can it be that comes to see / The convent all abed?’” A young girl crosses the threshold, taking her first steps in becoming a bride of Christ. This charming story — all in lilting rhyme — captures the journey ahead from postulant, to novice, to professed sister. The Benedictines of Mary, known for their chant recordings, offer readers a glimpse of their daily work, from sewing vestments to baling hay. They also inspire them by their prayer and encourage them in their joyful witness to Christ. Whimsical illustrations complement this well-told vocation story. Ages 6-12.


God Is Calling: Seeing His Signs in Your Life

Written by Brother François Fontanié, CFR

Designed by Armelle Riva and Gauthier Delauné

Ignatius, 2022 

56 pages, $14.99

God wants us to know him and what he desires for us. The author recalls the signs in his own life that gradually led him to become a Franciscan friar in the Bronx, far away from his home in France. The example of the saints and religious brothers and sisters left a sign of God’s presence in his life, as did the Bible, Providence, prayer and his own calling. Brother François’ story will help both boys and girls recognize the many loving ways God makes himself known and, at the same time, encourage them to answer God’s call with joy. Ages 7 and up.


Little Convent in the Big City: The Unsolvable Problem

Written by Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR

Illustrated by Michael Corsini

Vianney Vocations, 2022 

36 pages, $24

“Once upon a time there was a little convent in a big city ...” With these words, the story of one special convent and the sisters who live there unfolds. These sisters live as a family, pray a lot, and joyfully serve the people who live in their financially stressed neighborhood each day. When Independence Day draws near, Sister Andy Mary is concerned. The sisters want to share a star-spangled picnic with their neighbors, but they don’t have all the needed food. What can they do? Pray! Their prayers are answered in an unexpected way, making the day a blessing for all. This story is part of the Little Convent in the Big City picture-book series. It provides a joyful, engaging introduction to religious life and beautiful, vibrant illustrations that will make the story come alive for young readers. Ages 4-12.


Little Convent in the Big City: The Light in You

Written by Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR

Illustrated by Michael Corsini

Vianney Vocations, 2022 

36 pages, $24

Fans of the first Little Convent in the Big City series will be glad that the sisters are back for this second installment. This time, Sister Mary Andy and friends are out and about, visiting their New York neighbors and trying to meet needs as they go. They make a special visit to see their friend Antonio and his dog, Star. Antonio is blind and feels angry, sad and lonely. The sisters listen with their hearts and share a word of prayer. Later, they return to invite Antonio to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Antonio, along with Star, accepts the invitation and they all head to the church, where Antonio experiences a sense of light and life that he hasn’t known in a long time. This story celebrates the power of loving friendship in doing apostolic work. The text is peppered with information about religious life and tangible ideas for showing care and friendship to others. Ages 4-12.

Sister Clare Gets Ready for Prayer

Written by Katie Warner

Illustrated by Meg Whalen

TAN Books, 2023 

40 pages, $18.95

Sister Clare, a cloistered Dominican nun, invites girls to “pray, work, and play” along with her in the convent. This is an interactive book at its finest, involving readers at every step of the way with simple motions and actions as the story reveals the beautiful vocation of Sister Clare and her fellow nuns. With Sister Clare, girls can sing, count, stand, kneel and even help her choose how to spend her free time. Will it be biking or walking? Playing the violin or reading? This peek into the daily life of a contemplative, cloistered nun shines light on an often hidden, but vitally important, way of life in the Church. Ages 2-8.


The Strange Sound by the Sea

Written by Haley Stewart

Illustrated by Betsy Wallin

Pauline, 2023 

80 pages, $24.95

The blue-habited Sisters of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, a fictional religious order for mice living under the G.K. Chesterton home, are sleuthing once again. In this third adventure, the sisters and their students head to the seashore and, while there, must unravel the mystery of a strange, piercing sound that awakens them at night. Tracking down clues does not prevent them from doing what they do best: offering kindness and mercy to those in need whom they encounter during their beach holiday. This read-aloud chapter book serves up both a good mystery and a glimpse of religious life through an imaginative lens. Ages 4-8.


Bonus Pick:

The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women

Written by Amy Smith

Emmaus Road, 2020

144 pages, $16.95

“Let me say it again,” the author writes, “God wants you to be happy.” Amy Smith, associate editor of the Register, invites young women to grab some hot chocolate, settle in, and learn about the hope-filled plan God has for their lives and who God is calling them to be. This guide is packed with ideas for living virtuously through prayer and the sacraments, loving Christ in family and friends, and listening to God’s voice. Practical suggestions for choosing a college, career or vocation (“Mrs. or Sister?”) are offered, with encouragement to include Jesus in those decisions. Quotes from saints and Scripture, personal experiences shared by the author, and even a favorite family recipe enliven this helpful, inspiring book. Ages 13 and older.

Watch EWTN’s Women of Grace, hosted by Johnnette Benkovic Williams, to hear Amy Smith discuss her book: Part 1 and Part 2.

The Crawford sisters write from Pittsburgh.