Looking for some good reads ahead of the new school year? Stories of saints, faithful religious practice, prayer and forgiveness make this roundup list.
Lily Lolek: Future Saint
Written by Katie Warner
Illustrated by Amy Rodriguez
32 pages, $16.95
Lily Lolek is utterly smitten with the saints. She reads about saints, dreams about saints, and tries to live like the saints. More than anything, she wants to be a saint. When she wonders if she can really muster up the bravery and virtues of the saints who have gone before, a friendly priest comes to the rescue. He assures her that she doesn’t need to be a carbon copy of anyone else. God has called her just as she is: “He gave you some gifts no one else can repeat,/ your own unique heart, mind and soul, hands and feet./ He wants you to use them in your special way/ to become the saint that He needs for today.” With reassuring rhyming text and joyful illustrations, this book dishes up a serving of inspiration and encouragement for young wanna-be-saints in our midst. Ages 4-8.
Jesus, I Love You: My First Words to Pray to God
Written by Augustine Gadient
Illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa
20 pages, $12.99
“I love you,” “I’m sorry,” “thank you,” and “stay close to me” are phrases that open the door to prayer. This sturdy board book with rounded edges helps parents to gently introduce little ones to these loving conversations with God. Lift-up widows that hide picture details add fun to the experience. Ages 1-3.
A Storybook of Saints
Written by Elizabeth Hanna Pham
Illustrated by Cecilia Vu
220 pages, $18.95
Saints for 50 days of the liturgical year come to life in these tales of the heroes of our Church. Readers will be drawn to what makes each exceptional in his or her love of God. The spiritual visionary who was musician, artist and cookie maker (Hildegarde), the holy priest whom God allowed to be in two places at a time to minister (Padre Pio), and the princess who secretly left her castle to feed the poor (Elizabeth of Hungary) are just a few of the luminaries in God’s realm who are introduced. Ages 5 and up.
Brother Francis of Assisi
Written and illustrated by Tomie DePaola
48 pages, $14.99
First published nearly 40 years ago, this new edition will inspire today’s kids to love God as Francis did: joyfully, humbly and wholeheartedly. Always in trouble as a youth, Francis is later called by God to rebuild his Church. He never looks back. Forsaking comfort, the self-described “fool for Christ” draws others to become the “littlest brothers,” the Friars Minor. The blessing given by Pope Innocent III to the new religious order, “may you become many,” additionally bears fruit when Lady Clare becomes the first young woman to embrace the Franciscan way of life. Beautiful full-page illustrations add to the richness of the story of this beloved saint. Ages 7 and up.
The Big Book of Christians Around the World
Written by Sophie de Mullenheim
Illustrated by Solenne & Thomas
84 pages, $16.99
Two young reporters, Olivia and Noah, team up to explore the customs, lives and heritage of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians throughout the world. The brother and sister visit 25 countries, arranged alphabetically from Algeria to Vietnam. Plenty of fun facts abound, but so do concerns faced by brave followers of Christ in some countries. Additional pages are dedicated to special times (Advent in Germany, Christmas in Brazil, Epiphany in Russia, Holy Week in Spain and Easter in the Vatican). Perfect for kids who love facts and trivia! Ages 9 and up.
The Kid’s Book of Prayers About All Sorts of Things (2nd edition)
Written by Elizabeth Heller and David Heller, Ph.D.
Pauline Books and Media, 2019
160 pages, $14.95
What does it mean to pray, and how do we do it? Sometimes we all need a little help in our efforts to converse with God. This book offers that kind of practical help for young readers. Both a collection of prayers and a guide for kid-friendly spiritual exercises, the book invites readers to pray about many different circumstances. Holidays, feelings, problems, changes and joys can all be the stuff of prayer. Opportunities to reflect, list, doodle or create in response to each of the included prayers will help children to heighten their awareness of God’s presence and discover the intimacy, timeliness and power of conversation with him. Ages 9-12.
Written by Karine-Marie Amiot
Illustrated by Violaine Costa
34 pages, $14.99
Henry steps back to admire the model plane he just made. Unfortunately, it’s right in the path of Emma, who skips along, paying no attention. As Henry shouts an unheeded warning to his little sister, catastrophe strikes. The plane is now in pieces. Before Emma can apologize, Henry retaliates. Anger finds a home in their hearts, and Henry and Emma feel sad and very far apart. What a difference it makes when each takes a step toward peace! The knots of anger “gently begin to unravel,” making friendship possible once more. Includes great, whimsical illustrations. Ages 5 and up.
The Crawford sisters write from Pittsburgh.
All books are available at Amazon.