When I was about ten years old, I started writing a series of short plays about “Big G” and His Son. They were cute and funny, but more importantly, they were my young self’s attempts to express my faith in terms and a format that made sense to me. My works included plenty of colorful drawings, depicting who God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–was to me.
Growing up during an era when the only book available to teach me about the Faith was a catechism or about the Mass was a missalette, I am inspired today by the many different resources authors and publishers offer that break open the Good News for children. As I sit perusing the best Catholic books published last year—the first steps in the 2022 “Excellence in Publishing Awards” sponsored by my organization, the Association of Catholic Publishers—I’m drawn again to the great offerings for children and families.
Each one of this week’s CatholicsRead Children and Family Books approaches the story of our Catholic Faith in a unique way that is accessible to young people. Catholic Book Publishing’s First Catholic Bible Stories focuses on 40 of the best-known and best-loved Bible stories using a traditional picture book format. This is a great companion piece to your children’s Bible, especially geared towards young ones who are just beginning to hear the ever-popular stories of the Old and New Testaments.
As a child, I loved the Mass, and as adults we know that there is such a treasure of beauty and meaning in the liturgy if we begin to pay attention to what is happening there. We also know that all the baptized are called to full participation in the Mass. That’s why it is so important to have books and resources that really engage children in what happens at the Mass. Pflaum Publishing Group’s Justin and Mia Discover the Treasures of the Mass, by authors Anne-Isabelle Lacassagne and Isabelle Monnerot-Dumaine, is a brilliant (and beautifully illustrated!) learning tool as two young children learn about Mass from Father Martin.
The next three resources take a more interactive and visual approach to learning about our Catholic faith and practices.
Lessons About God That Kids Can See from Pflaum Publishing Group is definitely a great guide for catechists and parents teaching children who are visual and tactile learners. This book by Msgr. Dermot R. Brennan covers all of the bases including sacraments, liturgical seasons and core Catholic teachings.
Children have deep and active imaginations, and can bring this capacity to their prayer, too! Why not introduce your child to the tradition of imaginative prayer? Ascension presents the Pray and Think Imaginative Rosary Book to aid parents in teaching children the rosary and meditative prayer. Children are prompted to use their imaginations as they learn the words and reflect on the accompanying pictures.
Finally, for a totally tactile and visual experience, how about The Last Supper Puzzle from Catholic Book Publishing? During the time it takes to put together this 1,000 piece puzzle that recreates Juan De Juanes’ classis “The Last Supper” painting, parents and children can share stories about their experiences at Mass. As the figures of the apostles are completed, take the time to look up who each saint was (even if it is only a search from Wikipedia!).
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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.