Congratulations to our friend and CatholicMom.com columnist Heidi Hess Saxton on the recent release of her wonderful book My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories. When asked to endorse Heidi’s book, I said of it, “With My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories, noted author Heidi Hess Saxton has given Catholic families and parishes everywhere a tremendous treasure. References from the Catechism, inspirational quotes from the saints, and suggested family activities make this a perfect faith formation tool for children and parents alike.” Having had the opportunity to read and share this beautiful book, I am now more convinced than ever that every Catholic family, school and parish should have a copy of this fantastic resource. I’m happy to share the following interview with Heidi Hess Saxton and to give My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories my highest recommendation.
Q: Heidi, congratulations on the release of My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories. Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
Hello! Thanks for helping me promote my new book — it was truly a labor of love, and I hope it blesses lots of families. Craig and I were married in 1999, and we foster-adopted our children Christopher and Sarah in 2002, when Sarah was six months old and Christopher was 2-1/2. I was delighted when Thomas Nelson approached me about compiling this book of stories, because it gave me a chance to include a lot of information that I wanted to pass along to my own kids.
Q: I LOVE your new book and can’t wait for our readers to explore it! For those who haven’t yet had an opportunity to read My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories could you please share an overview of the book?
My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories is a comprehensive (400+ pages!), full-color volume of stories from the whole Bible (including the deutero-canonical books). I wrote little introductions to each story, but the entire story is taken directly from the NRSV. Each story includes a prayer to use during Bible story time, tidbits of information to help you get a better understanding of the story, and a cross-referencing tool that lists Scripture and Catechism passages that are especially appropriate to read with that story. I also included a little section at the front of the book to help families cultivate a habit of family prayer.
Q: What makes this book different from other typical children’s Bible story books?
Unlike most story books, My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories includes stories from the entire Bible, especially those most important to Catholics. Although Thomas Nelson is an evangelical publisher, they worked with me to make sure the book has an authentically Catholic “voice,” incorporating Church teachings, especially on the sacraments and the saints. Because the text comes directly from Scripture, it gives children a chance to hear the beauty of the text for themselves – and the passages are kept short, so as not to be too overwhelming. And I deliberately included notes for parents, so they can learn right along with kids!
I drew extensively from my graduate theology studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit — however, I learned to love the Bible from the first thirty years of my life, especially the years I spent in Bible school as an Evangelical Christian. I have in my library an extensive collection of Scripture study resources — you should have seen the mountain of books on my desk while I was going through the project! I have to say, compiling this book gave me a chance to read these stories in a fresh, new way.
Q: What are some of the ways in which you foresee the book being used by Catholic families and educators?
One of the greatest challenges facing catechists and parents is educating children when we ourselves don’t feel completely up to the challenge. The cross-referencing features of each story will help educators to study the material at their own pace, as deeply as they are inclined to do. The index is also cross-referenced to the liturgical calendar, so you can readily look up the story that corresponds to the readings. Above all, it will help educators integrate Scripture and prayer, both of which are needed to maintain a vital Christian life.
Q: What do your two adorable kids think about having their own special book, written by their mom?
They’re cute. They walk around the house with it (I only have one copy so far), and at church they run up to people, flashing the title page (before I get a chance to do it!)
Q: What was different about writing for children rather than writing for adults? Did you test drive the book with your own family prior to publication?
The greatest challenge was finding a voice that would work for the whole family (although the book is targeted at the 6-9 age group). I didn’t want older kids to be bored, or little kids to be lost. That’s why the multiple sidebars helps — you can read as little or as much as you want. Honestly, I had to do it so quickly there wasn’t a lot of “test driving” ahead of time … but I’m enjoying reading it through with them now, with all the beautiful artwork!
Q: Please give our readers an update on your great Extraordinary Moms Network.
I continue to post on it regularly, and people continue to find me …. I’m hoping this book will draw even more readers, and encourage them in their vocations. I have a special page dedicated to resources that tie into the book – websites and other online resources to help families dig deeper into the stories.
Q: With all of your publishing and writing successes, what’s next?
Although I have a few ideas brewing, I don’t have any firm plans right now. Life is very much like a book, full of chapters and plot twists. It isn’t always possible to project what is going to happen from one week to the next, is it? I’ve always loved writing and sharing my faith with other people; as a wife and mother, I can’t always spend the kind of time I’d like with this. This year, my children’s school has occupied the lion’s share of my time, and it looks as though I may soon be headed back to school myself. I’ll update my plans on EMN as they become available … stay tuned!
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