January’s almost over, but that doesn’t mean the end of winter is here. We’re all waiting for the groundhog to see his shadow (or not) and predict the coming of spring, and you probably don’t wanna build another snowman. Instead, snuggle up with your little ones and their favorite warm blanket and enjoy these new read-alouds! (I mixed in one activity book, just for some extra fun.)
Little Prayers for Little Ones by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP, and illustrated by Becky Fawson, uses rhyme to teach children about different types of prayer: adoration, supplication (contrition is included in this section), intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. This board book encourages young children to pray often:
And God made me! I am special and loved! I am a child of my Father above!
My Father listens to all that I say. I talk to God. I can pray every day.
Each section of the book provides examples of how and when a child might talk to God using this type of prayer. A note to parents, guardians, and teachers at the end of the book explains that teaching children to pray spontaneously sets the stage for them to learn the traditional prayers of the Church as they grow. (Pauline Books & Media)
The Word of the Lord, a new board book by Katie Warner, illustrated by Meg Whalen, is a first book of Scripture verses for very young children. Simple, colorful illustrations accompany each Scripture verse. Take advantage of small children’s ability to memorize their favorite books: they’ll soon know beautiful passages from Scripture by heart (and so will you!). The verses included in the book are ordered as they appear in Scripture, beginning with Exodus 20:12 and ending with Philippians 4:4. (TAN Books)
I Pray Every Day, by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP (the same author who wrote Little Prayers for Little Ones) and illustrated by Mary Elizabeth Tebo, FSP, is designed to help primary readers learn to pray throughout the day. The children depicted in the book pray upon waking up, before and after meals, when they are sick, if they’ve done something wrong, and all throughout the day. Samples of spontaneous prayer are included, and at the end of the book, there’s a section of special prayers: the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. (Pauline Books & Media)
This author also wrote I Pray the Mass for the same age group. The book begins with a map of the world, explaining that all over the world, Catholics go to Mass. Next, the child is walked through various aspects of Mass: the Sign of the Cross at the holy-water font,smiling at family and friends who are also attending Mass, the entrance rite, the Liturgy of the Word, the homily and Creed, the Presentation of the Gifts, the Consecration, the Our Father, the sign of peace, receiving Communion, and thanksgiving and recessional. Each of these is described in the book and has a short spontaneous prayer the child can read and pray. The section on Communion is especially directed toward children who have not yet received the sacrament:
It is time to receive Jesus’ Body in the host, and Jesus’ Blood from the chalice.
When I am old enough, I can receive Jesus too! …
Jesus, I love you very much! Amen.
With cute illustrations by Mernie Gallagher-Cole, this book is perfect for children in kindergarten and first grade who are curious about what’s happening at Mass. Read it with them during the week, then let them bring the book to church to focus their attention on the different parts of Mass. (Pauline Books & Media)
Children who love superheroes and action stories will be enthralled by the exciting tale about St. Martin of Tours, The Sword and the Cape, by Pamela Love. This picture book for young readers introduces young Martin, whose family expected him to become a Roman soldier but who instead wanted to follow Jesus. Readers will be surprised at the way Martin uses his sword — and then about Martin’s dream the following night! The book ends with a one-page biography of the saint and a prayer to St. Martin of Tours that children can pray. (Pauline Books & Media)
Elementary readers can learn all about what Pope Francis’ life was like before he became Pope by reading Jorge from Argentina: The Story of Pope Francis for Children. Written by Marlyn Monge, FSP, and Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, and with an introduction geared to the young reader by Cardinal Séan O’Malley, OFM Cap., this book begins with the wedding of Mario and Regina Bergoglio and even includes a pronunciation guide for names and places. Readers will learn about the Pope’s early life as a big brother, a child in school, a First Communicant, and his realization that he was called to serve God as a priest. Highlights from the Pope’s days as a priest and bishop follow, and the book concludes with Francis’ election as Pope and his first World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. (Pauline Books & Media)
Grab the crayons and colored pencils: the Fun with Angels coloring and activity book is packed with 64 pages of word searches, coloring pages, seek-and-find puzzles, mazes, codes, and more, all coming together to teach children about the ways in which God has sent angels to help people since the beginning of time – concluding with a lesson about our own guardian angels. (Pauline Books & Media)
Storybooks like these make excellent gifts for baptisms, Valentine’s Day, and even Easter baskets, if you’re thinking that far ahead.
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Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
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