I was that kid, even from a very young age. Every fifth word out of my mouth was “why”—why does this work the way it does, why did this happen, why can’t I do or be such and such. My parents were bright, intelligent, college-educated people, but my continuous procession of “why’s” was just too much, especially because the list of topics was endlessly long.
One day, a great big box appeared in our house filled with the World Book Encyclopedia. (If you are a Gen Xer or Millennial, think of the wonder and awe that you had the first day you got a phone that was connected to the Internet and discovered Wikipedia.) From that day on, I was redirected to the den where I grabbed the appropriate volume and just started reading. And reading and reading and reading until the Encyclopedia wasn’t enough and I discovered the shortcut through the woods to the library where the number of books and topics were boundless. Or so I thought.
The one topic area that neither the World Book or the library covered well was faith, specifically the Catholic Church.
I have thought a lot about what being a Catholic parent during the pandemic must have been—and probably still is—like. Not only did parents add the hat of “teacher’s aide” for all of those distance learning, Zoom classes, but Catholic parishes defaulted to mom and dad as the primary catechist since no CCD or religious education classes were in session. Granted, the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlights the Church’s belief that “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children” (CCC 2223) and that the home is the first school to learn the faith. I doubt the Church fathers ever anticipated a pandemic-like situation where parents became the only educators and the home became the only school to learn the faith.
This week’s crop of CatholicsRead children and family books are precisely what every family needs as we work our way through this transition from home-based learning back to school- and parish-based learning.
These first three should be mainstays in your family’s library: My Little Catholic Encyclopedia (Pflaum), Great Adventure Kids Catholic Bible Chronicles (Ascension Press), and My First Interactive Mass Book (Ascension Press). My Little Catholic Encyclopedia is the go-to book for all of the pesky “why” questions that every parent wants to answer well but may not feel well-prepared enough to do so. Keep it on a lower shelf so as your children’s reading ability progresses, they can take up the search for answers to their questions. Great Adventure Kids Catholic Bible Chronicles and My First Interactive Mass Book address the basic foundations of our Catholic faith, Scripture and Tradition.
To explore specific topics more deeply, take a look at OSV’s Teeny Tiny Theology series, especially this week’s book on the Trinity. I’ve listened to experienced priests humbly stumble through homilies on the Trinity, a foundation of our faith. This series helps parents peel back the layers in an age-appropriate way and introduce beliefs like this one.
A family-friendly Catholic catalog is “thin” on fiction and Christmas stories beyond the Gospels. We have three titles to build up any family collection. The Fire of Eden (Loyola Press) is a fiction novel, part of the Harwood Mysteries series, for older children. The Light of Christmas Morning (OSV) and The Night the Saints Saved Christmas (OSV) build on and break open the Nativity story in different ways.
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.