The books we read as young kids stay with us for a lifetime, so I’m always on the lookout for books that not only have attractive and engaging illustrations, but convey powerful and lasting truths.
I’m especially careful when those books are explicitly about our Faith. Here are a few of my current favorites in that category. They not only tell my kids things I want them to know about God, but I’ve found them moving and engaging myself.
15 thoughts on “Five Catholic books for littlest kids (and also for their parents)”
I love Brian Wildsmith’s biblical picture books: “Joseph,” “Exodus,” “Mary,” and “The Easter Story.” (I think there are others, too, though probably they’re out of print.) I love it when top-notch illustrators who just happen to be Catholic (like Wildsmith or de Paola) get book deals to do these projects, since it means a first-rate, professional quality book that’s being published for its excellence, not just because somebody thought there should be a holy book about such-and-such a topic. Sadly, when Catholic publishers do that, they often have text and illustrations that are mediocre at best.
The Clown of God! I love that one so much.
“The tale of the Three Trees” is one of my all-time favourites.
I wish it wasn’t out of print – Mary’s Big Surprise from Pauline Press is a lovely Easter story for the very smallest, and they remember it really well.
I studied to be a children’s librarian a long time ago.
Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman is beautiful. The description on Amazon – “In its mother’s womb, a baby grows, explores the waters, and talks with the angel who is there. The gentle illustrations tell the story of that baby and angel…” The illustrations are beautiful. I have ordered many copies as gifts. It’s not about Mass or the rosary, yet I think it is a core truth of our faith – that we are made in God’s image and that he knew us and loved us even before birth. This story of the baby and the angel, in the waters in the mother’s womb, communicate really essential truth that is sometimes hard to discover in our culture today. The book is here: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Waters-Regina-Doman/dp/1928832814/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Doman also has other books including a series of retold fairy tales, set in modern times, which the reviews say should be considered for 14 year olds and up or maybe 16 year olds, high school age (read reviews of these other books), due to material that could be inappropriate for younger children – parents like the books and seem to find them appropriate for teens, with a foundation that is Catholic without being preachy, though I have not read the fairy tale series.
The Angel in the Waters would be definitely appropriate for young children, and possibly any age would enjoy, though preschool or young elementary grades might be the target audience. This is the only one of Doman’s books I have read, as my daughter was grown by the time I discovered Doman.
Counterpoint: I think Angel in the Waters is incredibly twee, and way too long. And I believe its presentation of fetal development is inaccurate as well.
Yikes, I think this sounds way more aggressive than I meant it to. I’m sorry!
Also, I have read Doman’s fairy tale series, and they’re … fine. The writing is pretty bad, unfortunately, because the concept is quite fun and the plotting is pretty good. So it depends on how much clunky phrasing and heavy-handedness bothers you. The characters are Virtuous in a way that makes them feel older than they’re supposed to be (high school), kind of like Beth in Little Women but less cutesy (and less consumptive). If you’re one of those people who’s really into fairy tales and retellings (my sister is) you will probably enjoy them. I enjoyed them well enough, but I wouldn’t put them on any must-read lists.
I have also always classified Doman’s writing as “. . . fine.”
Monica, I am curious as to what aspect of fetal development you thought was inaccurate? I don’t have a copy of Angel in the Waters on hand to look at that aspect at the moment, but I don’t remember noticing anything that I thought was glaringly off – though the book is intended to convey spiritual truth rather than scientific truth – I was not thinking about this as a way of teaching pre-natal development in a scientific way. Obviously, a pre-born baby is not talking in English words to his or her guardian angel – the baby does not have highly developed language at that point, but I thought it captured the essence of the spiritual truth rather well.
The (adult, married) daughter of a friend developed a leak during early pregnancy, so that her child was not surrounded by water – the doctors thought that the child might not live long enough to be born, or that if the child lived to see the light of day, she may have had terrible developmental problems, or there could have been infection. Many of us prayed for this baby throughout the pregnancy, and I remembered this book and suggested that the pregnant mom read it and remember that the angel is with the baby – and of course, we prayed for water, but the water did not replenish. Still, the angel was there, and I liked thinking about that angel with the baby and hope it helped the mother to have moments of peace during this frightening time. In the end, the baby was born very early but is now a year old and thriving – the doctors were surprised as they truly did not think the baby would make it. So – I have a great affection for the story, and maybe it is for moms as much for the little ones, but I do love it.
That comment is just based on what my sister, who knows more about fetal development, told me, so I can double-check when I get home, but I believe the baby starts hearing too soon.
I am so glad your friend’s baby is all right!!
To complain about the sentence “Then I could hear and see.” being imprecise in a children’s book about the care of one’s guardian angel even before birth seems overly nitpicky, regardless of one’s overall opinion of Doman’s books.
Thanks, Monica. I just rechecked – I have taught continuing ed classes to nurses on fetal development – and I’ve been showing that the baby will respond to sound by week 19. But I have found several references that there is some hearing by week 15 – like, hearing the air woosh through the mother’s lungs and so on, though it is a little later that they have documented head turning in response to external sounds – though my slides note that even as recently as the 1980’s it was incorrectly believed that the baby didn’t hear till the third trimester. I also see that Mayo Clinic has all of this listed as later than it really is, but it was the testimony of Mayo Clinic in Roe v. Wade that allowed the Supreme Court to think that the fetus was nothing, and we didn’t even know if it was human, and the fact that Mayo Clinic puts hearing later than some sources possibly just means they have not taken the trouble to consider newer research that shows it is earlier. It’s true that the majority of the research that has been with reading to babies in the womb and so on has been done in the 3rd trimester, but that doesn’t mean that’s when it starts. As I said, I don’t have a copy of Angel in the Waters currently, so I don’t know if it was talking about the baby hearing his or her mom – but of course with the angel, it would more likely be spiritual communication, and it’s about the spiritual truth. But – I get that tastes can be different, and not everyone may love the book as I do – I thought the art was beautiful, and there is very little that helps children to appreciate the beauty of preborn human life. Not thinking scientifically, but spiritually.
Do you happen to know of any halfway decent books about the mysteries of the Rosary for kids?
I really love Peanut Butter & Grace’s “Illuminated Rosary.” For any age (it’s helped me with the rosary a lot), there’s art for each rosary bead. I don’t have the new edition, but I think it’s very similar to the old one as far as the artwork goes. Lots of different styles, from manga to icons, so something for everyone and many different ways to take in each mystery.