Summertime, and the Reading Is Easy

Just because summer's here doesn's mean kids’ books have to go into storage until the fall.

After all, there's no time like no-school time to remind children that reading isn't just for learning — it can be downright fun, too.

Don't let the lazy, hazy (and, we hope, not too crazy) days of the season go by without sitting down to read a few books aloud with the young people in your life. Kids just seem to love this time-tested ritual.

Best of all, there's an abundance of uplifting, spiritually nourishing titles for Catholics to choose from. Here are some of our favorites for those rainy days ahead — not to mention the long evenings before bedtime and those extended, “Are-we-there-yet?” summer drives.


TO HOLY MEN AND WOMEN by Philip D. Gallery illustrated by Janet Harlow St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2003 41 pages, $16.95

To order: (800) 488-0488 or

Hats off — or should we say “halos off?” — to the duo who created this fourth book in the “Search & Learn” series. Fashioned after the gazillion-selling Where's Waldo? secular series, this one challenges readers to pick out the saints hiding in 13 double-page “picture journeys.” Each themed exploration is packed with illustrations and information about the Church's holy role models. We tried to stop after one search — “Saints Listed in the Liturgy of the Mass” — but it was so much fun, we just kept going. Named the top children's book for 2004 by the Catholic Press Association, Can You Find Saints? includes a parents guide highlighting the virtues of the featured saints. Ages 5 and older.


by Eric Metaxas Zonderkidz, 2002 20 pages, $6.99

To order:

It's hard to resist upbeat, affirming words — especially when they're delivered by a team of friendly, funny, chatty vegetables. In this recent VeggieTales installment, Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato remind readers that, no matter what our shape, size, color or personality, God has lovingly and carefully made each of us so that no two of us are exactly the same. The board-book pages, colorful illustrations and sheer silliness of the language will appeal to preschoolers. Meanwhile, the positive, God-centered messages will resonate with parents and help reinforce their spiritual guidance. Ages 2 to 6.

ST. JUDE: A FRIEND in Hard Times

by Michael Aquilina III illustrated by Keith Neely foreword by Scott Hahn Pauline, 2004 78 pages, $14.95

To order: (800) 876-4463 or

What would you rather do during vacation: read a few good books — or write one? Twelve-year-old Michael Aquilina did exactly the latter. Desperate to solve a computer problem when he was younger, the author turned to St. Jude for help. The saint intervened and the author was hooked. He wanted to know more about this “patron saint of lost causes” who leads so many people to Jesus. The result is this well-researched biography that draws from the Bible, history, tradition and legend. Great illustrations. Ages 10 to 14.


by Tomie de Paola Putnam, 2004 32 pages, $16.99

To order: or (800) 788-6262

Pascual is so kind and generous, it seems only natural that he should become a friar. But trouble's brewing when he reports to the monastery. Poor Pascual is assigned to cook for the friars — and he doesn't even know how to boil water. Soon, with a little love and the power of prayer, Pascual is serving the tastiest of feasts. Readers will love learning the angelic secret of the monastery kitchen. Popular author-artist Tomie de Paola has dished up a fun and inspiring version of the legend of Pascual, patron of cooks. Ages 4 to 8.


by Mary Hoffman illustrated by Jackie Morris Phyllis Fogelman Books, 2003 32 pages, $16.99

To order: or (800) 788-6262

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Children love animal stories, and the Bible is full of them. This collection includes a retelling of nine Old Testament favorites that feature beasts of every variety. The author's writing style is casual and conversational, just right for reading aloud. The well-told stories and detailed watercolor illustrations help readers imagine what it must have been like to jump on board Noah's Ark, see plagues of locusts and frogs descend on Egypt and stare down hungry lions with Daniel. Biblical references are provided for readers who want to know more. Ages 4 to 8.


by Nancy Rue illustrated by Lyn Boyer Zonderkidz, 2003 105 pages, $7.99

To order:

This book helps girls identify hobbies reflecting the talents and gifts God has given them. Self-quizzes (“Check Yourself Out”), journaling and action plans (“Just Do It”) provide the road map. This is light summer reading with a payoff, as research indicates that kids who enter their teen years with a hobby or special interest navigate those years more easily than those who have not found something to call their own. To share this book is to help a girl find a hobby — and find herself. Ages 8 to 12.


by Ana Maria Vazquez and Jennings Dean illustrated by Don Stewart Pauline, 2004 139 pages, $5.95

To order: (800) 836-9723 or

Looking for a hero? Pier Giorgio Frassati grew up in Italy during the early 20th century. Born into an affluent family, he excelled at soccer, mountain climbing and downhill skiing. This popular athlete, also known for his humor, led a hidden life. Grateful for Jesus in the holy Eucharist, Pier Giorgio quietly sought him in the poor. When he died at 24 after contracting polio, Turin's disenfranchised filled the church to say goodbye to their friend — whom Pope John Paul II would later call the “Man of the Beatitudes.” Ages 10 to 14.

Patricia A. Crawford writes from Winter Park, Florida.

Kerry A. Crawford writes from Pittsburgh.