When I was young, one of my favorite places in the house was the cushy, swivel chair right next to the built-in shelves in our living room. Because right at eye-level were my most favorite books including the World Book Encyclopedia (the dinosaur predecessor to Wikipedia for all of you digital natives.)
My parents fed our curiosity in so many ways. We put thousands of miles on our old station wagon traveling around the country to explore the natural and man-made marvels in places like New Hampshire, South Dakota, and northern Kentucky. Every vacation included a visit to the local parish and a swim in the motel pool. And the long car rides had us packing lots of books, everything from my mother’s theology tomes to Charles Dickens to sports magazines.
Daily life meant dinner around 6 which also meant lots of conversation. And not just the typical “what did you do in school” or “how was work” questions. The meals and the discussion started that way, but they inevitably veered into deeper topics, some related to local issues like the growing racial tension in our hometown of Detroit and to Church. A lot of our conversations were about Church.
I didn’t always understand what my parents were talking about when they used unfamiliar words like “archbishop” and “Vatican II,” but I was incredibly curious and so I often found my way to my favorite place in the house. Because by hook or by crook, I wanted to better understand what my parents were talking about.
Knowing how many hours I spent with my nose in a big reference book (my inventory did expand ultimately beyond the encyclopedia), my inner child jumped when I saw a few of this week’s children and family books in CatholicsRead, especially My Little Catholic Encyclopedia from Pflaum Publishing Group. I wish I had had a comprehensive book like this on my shelf with age-appropriate answers to the kinds of questions I had. It would have been my favorite “go-to” book after intense Church dinner conversations.
My parents would have undoubtedly added Catholic Book Publishing’s The Parables of Jesus and Living with Christ’s Sunday Missal for Young Catholics. Though there were many adult Catholic Bibles to be found in our house, these two resources would have made the Scriptures so much more accessible to young eyes and minds. I can only imagine how dog-eared the Sunday Missal would have become over the years as I toted it with us to Mass Sunday after Sunday.
Since Sunday’s lessons rarely ended when Mass did, Pflaum’s Lessons about God that Kids Can See would have come in handy. These 40 lessons would be just the thing to engage my whole child person and likely given me a depth of understanding that went beyond our pastor’s preaching.
My parents regularly introduced us to holy people who lived their faith in many different vocations, priestly, religious, married, and single, and through many different actions. Some of those people, we met in person. Others in books. For a child or young person who is seeking out a faith-filled happiness, Blessed Chiara Badano: Her Secrets to Happiness from New City Press would have been a cherished example of someone I could relate to.
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.