Welcoming Baby Jesus at Christmas: Good Reads for Little Ones This Special Season

Children's Books Picks feature

(photo: Register Files)

My Picture Book of the Catholic Faith

Written and illustrated by Maïte Roche

Ignatius/Magnificat, 2018

96 pages, $16.99

“Enter into a great story of love,” the author urges her young readers. That story of love — the love of God for his children — unfolds beautifully in this book about our faith, sacraments and journey with Jesus through prayer, the Mass and loving others. Children will know Jesus better in learning about his life and the Church that he founded. Of special delight are the interspersed prayers for little ones. For example, “Jesus, I await you. My heart is like a manger ready to receive you. Welcome, Jesus! You are the greatest gift of all.” Ages 3 and up.

 

Cloud of Witnesses: A Child’s First Book of Saints

Written by Katie Warner

Illustrated by Meg Whalen

TAN, 2018

24 pages, $9.95

A win-win board book? Yes, both little ones and the grown-ups who read to them will be blessed by this book of favorite saints. The beautiful illustrations of 11 holy men and women will capture the attention of the youngest readers. And a memorable quote for each saint will inspire parents and grandparents alike. As children grow, they, too, will grow in their appreciation for the saints’ love of Jesus. Ages 3-7.

 

I Went to Mass: What Did I See?

Written by Katie Warner

Illustrated by Meg Whalen

TAN, 2018

22 pages, $16.95

“I went to Mass. What did I see? / I saw the holy water font by me!” Fans of Eric Carle’s popular Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Did You See? will immediately detect a similar lyrical pattern in this book. The rhythmic, predictable text introduces children to the many people and things they will encounter at Mass — from the priest to sacred objects and, of course, the Eucharist. All of this is shared in a manner that is age-appropriate and just right for the youngest readers. Soft pencil illustrations are accented with small blasts of color that will capture attention and interest. Ages 3-7.

 

I Pray Every Day

Written by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP and Mary Elizabeth Tebo, FSP

Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye

Pauline, 2018

40 pages, $5.99

When should we pray? Everyday! This compact book presents prayer as a daily conversation that we can have with God. Brief texts and colorful illustrations remind readers that we can speak with Our Lord anytime, anywhere and in any circumstances. A collection of prayers — both traditional and new — are sprinkled within the pages of these timely, brief lessons. This book is appropriate for both story time and prayer time — and is perfectly sized for a stocking stuffer. Ages 3-8.

 

The Extra Special Baby

Written and illustrated by Antonia Woodward

Lion Children’s Books, 2016

26 pages, $8.75

“Someone was coming. Someone new. Someone so extra special that life on earth would change forever.” The story of Jesus, the Extra Special Baby, is told with charm and enthusiasm in this softly illustrated British picture book. Each page turn shows how the coming of the Son of God changed the lives of so many — Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men and the shepherds — and drives home the message that his coming changes our lives, too! Ages 3-8.

 

This Is the Day! 

Written by Amy Parker

Illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

Little Shepherd Books, 2018

32 pages, $16.99

Psalm 118:24 reminds us, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” This cheerful picture book shows readers how they can rejoice and celebrate God’s work each and every day of their lives. From the moment we wake up until the time we go to sleep, God provides wonderful opportunities for us to rejoice in his goodness. The rhyming, inspirational text and vibrant colorful pictures invite children to take their place in God’s kingdom: “God created this day — / He made it for YOU!/ And He filled it with things/ Just for YOU to do!” Ages 3-8.

 

Jesus Stories From the Bible

Written by Charlotte Grossetête

Illustrated by Sibylle Delacroix, Dominique Mertens, Éric Puybaret

Ignatius/Magnificat, 2018

48 pages, $15.99

Five imaginatively told Bible stories will draw children closer to Jesus. Timely for this season is “The Birth of Jesus.” “It was a bitter cold night, and everyone in the town of Bethlehem had long been in bed,” begins the Christmas story. Children can readily imagine that they are there as the story unfolds. Rounding out the collection are “In the Jerusalem Temple,” “The Calling of the Disciples,” “Jesus Heals” and “From Death to Life.” Beautiful illustrations, contributed by three different artists, add extra appeal. Ages 5 and up.

 

Who Is Jesus? His Life, His Land, His Time

Written by Gaelle Tertrais

Illustrated by Adeline Avril

Ignatius/Magnificat, 2018

96 pages, $16.99

Just the facts, please! Naturally curious, young readers enjoy knowing the story behind the story. This book does exactly that! Was Jesus born in December or in the spring? What does the word “Bethlehem” mean? Who were Jesus’ grandparents? What special meanings did numbers in the Bible have? What did Jesus and his followers wear? What did they eat? Did you know that Jesus always asked an ill person a question before healing him or her?  What 39 works were forbidden on the Sabbath? So many more questions (and answers) await! Ages 8 and up.

 

The Life of Jesus: A Graphic Novel

Text by Ben Alex

Concept and illustrations by Jose Perez Montero

Pauline, 2017

136 pages, $14.95

This in-depth graphic novel presents the life of Jesus, with detailed illustrations, powerful texts and lively narration, all presented in a popular comic-like format. The content of this book is Scripture-rich — drawing from all four Gospels — and presented in a series of dramatic chapters that cover the life of Jesus from his birth through the Resurrection. This is a perfect book for middle readers who want to know more about Jesus, the greatest superhero of them all!  Ages 9-12.

 

The Crawford sisters write from Pittsburgh. All books are available at amazon.com.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.