Looking for Catholic-based gift ideas?
This is “Miss” Joyce’s booklist…(some of) her go-to choices:
Read Read Read--especially the Bible. God must have thought pretty highly of reading if he gave us the 10 Commandments and the Bible… Reading storybooks to children is a great way to,
like Jesus using parables, teach through storytelling.
2 Kings 23:2
The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with
him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great ; and he read in their hearing
all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.
(Alphabetical-ish by Title)
AROUND THE YEAR with the von Trapp Family
by Maria von Trapp
This is a charming book - especially if you are a Sound of Music fan. Written by the real Maria von Trapp, you come away from this book as if after a long chat with Maria about Austrian-Catholic-good old wholesome family life...with ideas for new traditions (perhaps a kids' craft with the Holy Name of Jesus as a centerpiece on that feast day), a reminder of why being a Catholic is a blessing, and with a few great recipes (dark rye bread, yum).
BEATITALES: 80 Fables about the Beatitudes for Children by Jared Dees
Jesus taught with parables…now we can too. This book teaches the eight Beatitudes with ten 1-2 page modern quick-story choices to pick from. I love that I can pick just the right version of how to tweak a particular Beatitude for the lesson needed. Ex. to explain Blessed are the poor
in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: Read “The Sick Son” to learn that things don’t
have to be perfect, just full of joy and love, or “The Dainty Dog” to learn the irony of showing
THE CATHOLIC ALL YEAR COMPENDIUM: Liturgical Living for Real Life
This is an easy conversational introduction to the concept of adding Catholic traditions to your families' life. It's written with humor by a Catholic homeschooling mom of nine. Whether you're not even sure what a Liturgical Year is, or your an on-fire convert, there are useable ideas, and wisdom worth reading in here. Tips for Mass with littles, easy-to-do ideas for Christmas, Easter, Saint's Day's and so much more. This makes a great gift for a new Mom!
The Fruit Tree by Mark Restaino
There are so many reasons to read and reference this book. It’s a quick-tale of forgiveness,
love, fresh starts, becoming humble, ...whenever you need to compare a life moment to
“growing”. There’s a bible verse on each page to reference the symbolism on that page. GREAT
The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanore M. Jewett
An adventure story of two twelve year old boys living in medieval times - fiction, but based on
history - bringing alive the era when monks painstakingly copied the Bible, Catholics had to hide
and fight to be able to say Mass, and people strongly understood saints and miracles…
I LOVE this book. It is great read aloud to children so you can interpret the vocabulary and
historical references that may otherwise float over the kids’ heads.
I’m a Saint in the Making by Lisa M. Hendey
A comprehensive lesson after lesson - 20 conversational pages - on how and why the listener is a saint in the making. Cute modern illustrations. This book is either for a
chapter-book level reader, or an adult to read all or part of it to any child. The last two pages
are suggestions of how teachers/parents might “use” the book. The draw for
me is that taking several days to read this book--(it’s too much in one big dose) - drives the point
home so well. The children get to take time to contemplate and internalize their sainthood.
The Miracle of the Bread, the Fish, and the Boy by Anthony DeStefano
I LOVE this book. Most know the history of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and the fishes… This
storybook imagines that the boy who offered his food to Jesus, was really on his way back from
buying that food as his mom’s birthday present. The boy offers his all to Jesus, and all reap the
benefit of his sacrifice--most endearingly, his mom! The lessons learned in this book stir up
Our Lady’s Wardrobe by Anthony DeStefano
I never would have thought to bring attention to Our Lady’s clothes! But Our Lady has had on a
different outfit each time she has appeared to someone on earth - leave it up to DeStefano to
teach from a kid-accessible angle... This lesson is many lessons in one book. Each few pages
presents Our Lady of: Nazareth, Mt.Carmel, Guadalupe, the Miraculous Medal, Knock, Lourdes,
Fatima, Queen of the Angels. Weaved in are the Scapular, the Miraculous Medal, the Rosary,
the Hail Mary, and more… Depending the age of your listener, the book leaves open the door
for the adult to add deeper facts such as of the Carmelite order, or Juan Diego etc...
Philo and the Superholies by Mireille Mishriky
Grandma reminds Philo that his Superholies are the blessings of the Holy Spirit granted to all
Christians at their baptism. Philo gets a quick reminder of what each one of the nine does:
self-control, joy, patience etc… So when Philo needed help with a bully in the playground, he
made the sign of the cross to activate his Superholies, and with help from the Kindness
Superholy, he saved the day. This book alligns children with God to conquer any fear,
challenge, etc. An awesome way to teach this! There are several books in this series…
Roses in the Snow: A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary by Dessi Jackson
What a lovely tale with wonderful illustrations. A Hungarian grandma brings alive the story of St.
Elizabeth of Hungary to her granddaughter. This is a cuddle close with cocoa read.
The Saint and His Bees by Dessi Jackson
We are all called to be saints--and not all saints built hospitals and founded Orders--some were
simple, wonderful, and worked with God’s plan for them, like St. Modomnoc of Wales who
brought his bees to Ireland. While reading this book, encourage children to be the best version
of themselves, and keep working to be, exciting or ordinary, the saint God made them to be!
The Secret of the Shamrock by Lisa M. Hendey
Awesome book, for sure if your early readers are Irish, or Catholic, like to go to church, or don’t
:) ....It’s an easy quick-read short-chapter book packed full of Catholic-isms. Patrick and his pet
frog named after the pope, get transported to Ireland for an adventure with St. Patrick himself. If
your kids like the secular series Magic Treehouse, they’ll love this. There’re more in this series.
Sitting Like a Saint: Catholic Mindfulness for Kids
by Dr. Gregory & Barbra Bottaro
Each page offers a paragraph on a different saint--then describes a relaxation technique. In
today’s world full of stress, this is a great way to teach children (and us all) how to look to
heaven when they are anxious, tense, or have problems. They learn things such as self awareness of their breathing, muscles, stress level etc. and empowers them to deep-breathe, stretch,
emulate the saints, and pray. This is a book to read and learn one page per sitting… Awesome.
Stations of the Cross For Kids by Regina Doman
'Love this book. Each station is shown in two facing pages: a snapshot historical-moment illustrations in somber colors, which should appeal to grade-schoolers (See the next book here in this list for bigger brighter-colored art for tiny kids), next to a page of 5 choices of what to read at the station. Take this book to Lourdes of Litchfield when your family hikes the Stations.
Take it to the Queen: A Tale of Hope by Josephine Nobisso
This is a fable that parallels man’s relationship to God, the fall of man, and our path to God
through Mary. In true fable fashion, parts can be a little obscure. Read it once to enjoy the
story, then read the front and back flaps that point out the symbolism throughout. Each time
you read it after that--and you’ll want to--you’ll contemplate more. I LOVE this tale--full of hope
for sure. My favorite line in the book is not from the story, but from the author’s letter at the end
of it, “...Jesus taught us only one prayer. He would not have asked us to pray for things that
cannot be fulfilled.”
this is the CHURCH by Katie Warner
The charcoal sketches of the dimly lit Catholic church are brightened by the stained glass that are
contemplated one by one as they present the story of the church to a child, as her parents quietly watch her learn. It reads rhythmically, for a younger audience, with a repetitive phrase. The story begins with Jesus, then meanders past apostles, the holy family, the Jews, the patriarchs, Adam and Eve, the creation story, and ends reminding you that YOU are just as integral a part of the church as they are. You are to shine your light into the world doing your part to share God’s love in the world.
The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso
The prince and princess were getting married during a time when hardly anyone went to Mass
anymore. A beggar asked the baker for a crust of bread for which she would pay him by
offering up her attendance at the wedding Mass. The grouchy baker wrote ”one Mass” on a
piece of tissue and threw it opposite the bread on his fine bakery scale. The tissue weighed
more. Page by page he adds more baked items until finally the wedding cake is balanced on
top--but the Mass consistently weighed more. The book ends with humility, all walking to Mass,
and the baker’s son acknowledged for his desire to become a priest instead of a baker. I LOVE
What Color is Love: A Parable of God’s Gifts by Nan Gurley
Grammy is a seamstress. At the end of the workday she tucks her granddaughter into bed and
sneaks back down to her workroom to sew her a coat. With each color fabric, she sings a verse
that ties that color to God. The granddaughter sneaks down and watches and listens from
behind the door. When Grammy awakes from behind her sewing machine, the girl is trying on
the coat. Have a tissue close as you read the ending: They dance around the sewing room
reminded how God loves them as much as they love each other. The book ends with a Note To
Parents page that includes the bible verses that correspond to the colors. I LOVE this book.
New Catholic Picture Bible by Lovasik
My favorite go-to for teaching kids Bible stories. The young kids will look at the pictures as you tell the stories (once you know the stories yourself--just flip through the pics describing them in your own words), the older kids can read these to-the-point descriptions of moments in the Bible. It is the most asked for book from all ages of the kids who have passed my way.
The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism by
Full of old-fashioned (so be prepared to tackle the conversations of hell and purgatory...) - to the point - real facts of the Catholic faith. This is the base of where I teach First Holy Communion classes with.
Illustrated Lives of the Saints for Catholic Children
by Daniel A. Lord, S.J. and Julie Cragon
A simple straightforward easy read, with one page for each of 125 saints, next to a colorful
detail filled picture of each. This book is written with conversational, not-boring summaries. It
has been our go-to saint book for years.
The YEAR & Our CHILDREN: Catholic Family Celebration for Every Season
by Mary Reed Newland
To me, Mary Reed Newland is like a Catholic Martha Stewart. If you're looking to infuse your families busy life with Catholic traditions, big and small, get her books in your home, and reach for them like cookbooks for what to do for 21 seasons or Feast Days. ...Deciding to make an Advent wreath--she'll suggest how to make it, the tradition behind making it, and what to say to your kids while you make it... Looking for something to do to explain the Assumption to the kids--Chapter 17 suggests a tea party--with all the hows and why's and conversation tidbits to pepper it with.... Have fun!
7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn
Simply put, anyone who reads this book will never be bored at Mass again! Why they don’t
teach this as standard information in Religious Education I don’t know. I share the “secrets” with
classes young and old… This is a perfect gift for any adult, and is certainly a perfect
Confirmation gift. I heard this author talk at a local church, and his daughter is the one who sings the
Chaplet of Divine Mercy on u-tube and EWTN.
7 Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn
My guess is everyone would go to confession more if they’d been read this book before going.
What a treasure of the reality of confession. Our copy has been underlined and written up all in
the margins… I share the concepts to the younger kids, but the book itself makes a perfect
Confirmation gift or gift for any adult.
BOOKS I UN-RECOMMEND
The Story of Saint John Paul II: A Boy Who Became Pope
by Fabiola Garza
I returned this book. I couldn’t establish the age group this was targeted for… The story was
told disjointedly, and accordingly, struggles to hold a reader’s interest… --if you hadn’t already
watched a grownup documentary on Karol Wotiwa, so many pages needed back-story
discussion, that I can’t imagine what child I would read this to… The reader must understand
the Nazi invasion, life in Poland, a parent and brothers’ death, a conclave...on and on--share a
movie on this amazing saint, and skip this book.
Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids by Kathryn Griffin
The Miracles themselves were of course worth teaching...and I did take a tidbit here and there
from this book to teach with...but it does not read in a way easy for kids to follow. Apart from a
few phrases, the only value I gleaned from this book was that it gave me a list of Eucharistic
Miracles to look up on the internet. I would not recommend this book.