A Collection of Child-Friendly Religion-Centered Books

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I readily admit I am a bibliophile.  What is a bibliophile?  A quick dictionary.com definition is, “a person who loves or collects books, especially as examples of fine or unusual printing, binding, or the like.”  While I’m not into the “examples of fine or unusual printing…” part of that definition, I definitely do love books, and I love to collect them.  I suspect there is a genetic predisposition for this condition, but I haven’t started (or completed, for that matter) any studies on the subject.

Initially, Man Cub could have cared less about books – I think he cared less because he liked seeing his mom stroke out when she would pull out an age-appropriate book and he would run away yelling “no book!”  That said, I am beginning to encourage Man Cub to also enjoy collecting books, and it warms my heart when he races to grab a book from a shelf at the store, and wants to take it home.  Books got me through some incredibly rough patches in my life – the escape they provided from real life really helped me steel myself against the harshness of tween-age and teenage peer stress.

I have an e-reader which is used for novels and fiction, whereas my “work-related” books and religion-centered books are typically bought in tangible book form, so I can mark in them and reference them often.  Between Soldier Boy (also a bibliophile, but less willing to admit his disorder than I) and I, we have a couple hundred pounds of books – movers at a couple duty locations ago asked of me, “ummm, ma’am, have you ever heard of a Kindle?”  Granted, at this stage in Soldier Boy’s life, his books weigh exponentially heavy because of the size of his textbooks for his various courses of study.

That said, I am selective in the books I buy, or bring home.  Lately, I’ve been focusing mainly on building Man Cub’s library.  Because he’s so new to this earth, he doesn’t have much of a collection, whereas my collection is vast – I can honestly say I have read *most* of every book I own.  And, until I read all of every book I currently own, I am on a buying freeze for more books.  At least, until I find another book I absolutely must add to my collection…

As I have been building Man Cub’s collection, I noticed perhaps half of his collection are turning into religion centered books.  Not necessarily “Catholic centered,” but the generic “Christian centered” books – the ones that encourage prayers to God, the ones that encourage children to talk to God and to build that relationship with God.  So, I decided to take a picture of a small bit of his collection (read: the books I could easily find, since they are literally all over the house).

In Man Cub’s collection of religious books, 4 of them have a permanent place in his “Mass bag” – the bag we take to church with us every single time we go to church together.  We take “Angel of God My Guardian Dear,” “Baby, Come to Church,” “Where is God?” and “When Jesus was a Little Boy.”  Man Cub’s absolute favorite books are the first three I just listed.  We read those several times a week, regardless of whether or not we are in church.  He has yet to allow me to read the “When Jesus was a Little Boy” book at all.  I’m not quite sure why, unless it has to do with his stubborn streak, believing that he is a big boy, and Jesus is only a little boy, so the book isn’t relevant – I may change the title next time I try to read it, in the event that might spark his interest.  
Man Cub has been reading the “Baby, Come to Church,” and “Where is God?” since he was about 15 months old.  Published as board books by the Pauline Kids Books & Media, these books, along with “Angel of God My Guardian Dear,” are published by the Daughters of St. Paul.  You can read more about this community of religious sisters and their charism at daughtersofstpaul.com.  These three books are kid-tested and kid-approved, by Man Cub and some of his other friends, as well as parent-approved.  If you are trying to find a Baptismal gift that will keep giving, these books are go-to books!  
“When Jesus was a Little Boy,” shows Jesus, as a small child (toddler-perhaps?), and how he went through some of what our children go through on a sometimes-daily basis.  It talks about how Jesus laughed and played, probably skinned His knee.  How Jesus sometimes would be sad, and how He would be kind to His friends, or how He would help His mom with chores.  There are many subliminal hints in there for small children – to do their chores, to be kind and share, to love their moms, etc.  It’s a fantastic read, if your child will listen to it.  
Man Cub has been lukewarm on “The Saints are Watching Over Me,” by TinySaints.  Their website offers small charms, which I will discuss in a later post someday, but their website is http://www.shoptinysaints.com if you want to check them out beforehand.  They feature several popular saints in their book, specifically St. Michael the Archangel, St. Peter, St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, and Mary, the Blessed Mother.  They also feature some saints most non-Catholics would not be as familiar with, like St. Monica, St. Gianna, St. Kateri, and more.  I am guessing Man Cub has not been as excited about this book because it really is geared for younger children, and he was 2 and a half when it was brought into our home.  So, Man Cub’s little sibling will be the first true test-subject on whether or not it is child-approved.  
Man Cub also didn’t seem to really enjoy “What did Baby Jesus Do?” (another Pauline Kids Books & Media publication).  I have no idea why he didn’t connect with that book, but I have placed it in our Christmas pile because it heavily focuses on the birth of Jesus, and the journey out of Bethlehem.  While it draws some parallels between Jesus being a baby, and a child being a small child, it just doesn’t captivate his interest.  
“Heaven is for Real,” by Tommy Nelson (A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers) publication is a board book.  It is based on the “Heaven is for Real” book, as told by Colton Burpo to his parents, Todd & Sonja Burpo.  The adult version of the book is absolutely beautiful, and the franchise expanded to including a regular child-version, and a board book version.  Man Cub will occasionally bring that one to me, but will lose interest half-way through.  I actually highly recommend everyone, but small children, read the adult-version published.  If you’ve read the book, don’t waste your time on the movie; if you’ve watched the movie, I feel it is much more beautiful in written form, as well as greatly expanded upon in written form.  I actually would like my money back from how disappointed I was in the movie, but Apple TV doesn’t offer an option to return movies once purchased… I digress…
“Shine: Choices to Make God Smile,” and “God is With Me Always and Everywhere” are more Pauline Kids Books & Media publications.  They are geared toward an older child – maybe age 4 and up.  Both have fantastic lessons.  “Shine” briefly introduces, in children’s terminology, the fruits of the Holy Spirit (found in Galatians 5:22-23), which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”  
“God is With Me Always and Everywhere,”  begins to introduce some of the basic beliefs of the Catholic Christian faith.  There is a very brief reference to Mary, the Mother of God, and how she helps children with their prayers.  There is reference to Jesus being “my best friend,” and how He has been with the child since their Baptism.  And, most importantly, how Jesus is in the Holy Eucharist – how He gives Himself to us, literally not metaphorically, every time we have Communion.  

“A Donkey’s Tale,” (another Pauline Kids Books & Media publication) chronicles Jesus’ life, as told by a faithful donkey that journeys with Jesus from birth to Resurrection and Ascension.  It is wordy, and is definitely for an older child – I am thinking over the age of 6.  I look forward to hearing Man Cub read this book aloud to his “mean Mom” who makes him read to her when he gets older.  I can assure readers that he was completely uninterested in it last Christmas, at the tender age of 2 and a half.

Finally, my absolutely favorite bedtime story book is a recent addition to our collection:  “Before I Sleep I Say Thank You.”  Written by Carol Gordon Ekster, and published by none other than – you guessed it – Pauline Kids Books & Media, it follows a little boy preparing for bed, and the prayers he says with his mom (although, sometimes he prays with Dad).  At the end, it closes with a “Now it’s your turn” option for kids – it prompts children to think of something you wish you had done differently in the day (saying, essentially, an examination of conscience – figuring out what you did that was not pleasant or in line with God’s word or will), expressing you are sorry for what you had done (saying an act of contrition, in Catholic terminology), and then 5 things you are grateful for (giving thanks to God for your blessings).  Essentially, it takes a child away from the rote memorized Christian-centered prayers (the Our Father, the Glory Be, and the Hail Mary), and really encourages the child to spend time in the spontaneous prayers to God, which as you will remember from a previous post of mine, is very important to me.  Man Cub really enjoys this book as well, and we have read it not just at bedtime, but also throughout the day!

We recently had the Daughters of St. Paul come speak to our Catholic women’s group, and they kindly brought samples of *some* of the titles they carry in their store.  I was rather excited to see I owned quite a few of the titles already, and the ones I didn’t were primarily books I have added to my wish list, or there is a specific reason they have not been added to my collection.

If you live near a Pauline Book store, and are trying to come up with gifts for any religious reason, I highly recommend checking with them, rather than automatically ordering online.  They have books, as well as Baptismal gifts, Confirmation gifts, coloring books, Crucifixes, statues, prayer cards, Rosaries, and so much more!!  I know the one close to me just put out their Advent displays, so if you are looking for an Advent wreath, check them out for that as well – they have the real candle wreaths, as well as plush, stuffed wreaths suitable for small children.

There you have it – some of my all-time favorite child-friendly religion-centered books, and my favorite Catholic-Christian book store to frequent.  I know there are tons more books out there, that I have not accrued yet.  It’s dangerous for me to go into any book store, whether it is the larger nation-wide chains (Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc.) or the lesser-known (but also nation-wide) book stores (Pauline Books), or independently run used-book stores.  But, that is why I readily admit I am a bibliophile, and hope that the trait is genetic, and my child/ren also follow their mother and father’s path.  I firmly believe knowledge is power, and even when it comes to religion and politics, it is important to be educated as to your beliefs and “why you believe the way you do.”

So, what are some of your favorite books for small children?

2 thoughts on “A Collection of Child-Friendly Religion-Centered Books

  1. Thank you for commenting on the “Before I Go to Sleep…” book. I was thinking about getting that one, since that is our bedtime routine.
    We love the “Ten Christmas Sheep” (also a Pauline Press book). We have Bibles, Bible story books, Mass books, and prayer books that rotate in and out of our Mass bag.

  2. Thank you for your recommendation on “Ten Christmas Sheep”!! I checked out the “Ten Christmas Sheep” last time I was at the Pauline store, and put it on the wish list for possibly this Christmas' addition – since I have an addiction, and must buy at least one new Christmas-centered book each Christmas for my child/ren.

    And, I stick with the same 4 books in the Mass bag because they have been tested as “Man Cub approved,” and more likely to elicit cooperation to get through Mass if he has his favorites in there. Speaking of which, I should probably go put them back after their photo op this morning/afternoon… 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.