At the ripe old age of five, I embarked on a long path of learning how to create a sense of orderliness and discipline for my mind, body, and heart. On my first day of kindergarten, my mother defined the morning habits that have stuck with me after 25 years of school (both full-time and part-time!).
Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Wash your face and hands. Get dressed. Eat breakfast.
When I was visiting with my parents over the summer, we reminisced about some of these school-day routine memories. I remembered how each morning, Mom begged us to eat our daily breakfast of toast—a challenge since neither my brother nor I were morning eaters. When toast got boring, we switched to cream of wheat, while bologna was our regular lunch. Our structured school day evenings involved sitting on the steps in our hallway in front of the cross to say night prayers. The Jerusalem Bible sat behind us on my grandmother’s sewing machine table, always open. I often sneakily read as I passed by during the day.
Other habits were added to the routine. Around the same age, I started piano lessons. I hated practicing—an important habit—but I couldn’t wait for my 30 minutes to be over. I would rather have practiced my beloved pastime, reading. I could read for hours—and I did. Books like Hope for the Flowers and The Giving Tree held pride of place on the bookshelf. Their bent corners testified to the amount of attention they received.
At the beginning of a new school year, now may be a good time for your family to reclaim faith habits that may have fallen to the wayside during the summer months, or to introduce new ones. This week’s CatholicsRead selection includes seven titles for children and parents to help instill both a love for reading and for sharing the faith.
First, parents may want to keep a copy of Loyola Press’s Raising Faith-Filled Kids by Tom McGrath nearby. This collection of easy tips and tools helps your Catholic family follow its unique spiritual path. Learn how to inspire virtue, discipline, and hope in your children based on the experience of a fellow parent.
Parents of younger children might start new habits with two classics, the Catholic Bible for Children from Catholic Book Publishing and the 50th-anniversary edition of Trina Paulus’s Hope for the Flowers, from Paulist Press. Catholic Bible for Children, richly illustrated in full color, offers over 75 Bible stories for children—from the story of creation to the travels of Saint Paul. Hope for the Flowers is a life-changing book by a renowned ecologist, peace, and environmental advocate that spans the generations.
Loyola Press presents Remember Us With Smiles, a tender story about the power of family, experience, and memory by Gary and Grace Jansen. Pauline Books & Media offers Our Lady of Guadalupe and Her Dear Juanito, coming in October by author Monge Marlyn Evangelina. This illustrated book introduces kids to the story of the visit from Mary that changed Juan Diego’s life forever and has influenced the faith of many people since.
The last two books are more hands-on. Drawing Closer to God from GIA Publications, Inc., is a coloring book for adults or children, filled with twenty-four inspirational line drawings by Brother Mickey McGrath. This winner of the 2017 Gold Medal Moonbeam Children’s Book Award is suitable for coloring with markers, crayons, or colored pencils. Ave Maria Press’s How Our Family Prays Each Day by Gregory K. Popcak is a 32-page hardcover, read-aloud book for children ages 4 to 8 that emphasizes the importance of praying and spending time with God each day.
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.