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20 Beautiful Winter Picture Books

We were blessed with the magic of a white Christmas this year, so I’m in hte mood to share some beautiful winter picture books! Here’s some of my family’s favorite winter picture books that celebrate the beauty of snowy winter wonderlands.

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A lovely poem by Robert Frost with serene illustrations by Susan Jeffers: what could be better? The whole family can enjoy this beautiful book.

Affiliate link: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

We just love Jim LaMarche’s magical illustrations that capture the wonder of the tail end of fall and beginning of winter. A little girl observes animals preparing for winter in the wild as she sketches in her nature journal.

Affiliate link: Winter Is Coming

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Who doesn’t love Margaret Wise Brown’s rhythmic text in A Home in the Barn? Jerry Pinkney’s detailed illustrations capture the warmth of the farm animals hunkered down for the cold season.

Affiliate link: A Home in the Barn

The Little Fir Tree is another Margaret Wise Brown illustrated beautifully by Jim LaMarche. This touching story captures the love of a father who digs up a live tree for his bedridden son to bring Christmas magic indoors.

Affiliate link: The Little Fir Tree

This sweet and simple story captures a father and daughter’s special sled ride On a Wintry Morning.

Affiliate link: On a Wintry Morning

A very curious child goes exploring with his parents to discover what happens to all his animal friends When Winter Comes.

Affiliate link: When Winter Comes

An adorable red fox wanders through the forest asking the other animals how to get ready for winter in Winter Dance.

Affiliate link: Winter Dance

Read these fun acrostics with your child as you explore the winter wonderland in the pages.

Affiliate link: Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic

In The Tomten, beloved Swedish author Astrid Lindgren gives children a charming little story about a Tomten who whispers to the farm animals that winter will pass and spring will come again.

Affiliate link: The Tomten

Who doesn’t love Jan Brett’s gorgeous detailed illustrations? We love her hedgehog stories, all set in winter: The Snowy Nap, The Hat, and Hedgie’s Surprise.

Brett has many more charming stories with dazzling winter artwork such as: The Mitten, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, Cozy, The Three Snow Bears, Annie and the Wild Animals, Trouble with Trolls, and Christmas Trolls.

A little boy and his family take a moonlight hike to decorate a Christmas tree with snacks for the wild animals in Night Tree.

Affiliate link: Night Tree

Snow tells children about the different types of snow with a lyrical flow and beautiful snowflake close ups.

Affiliate link: Snow

Kevin Henkes’ simple picture book portrays kids and animals enjoying old-fashioned snow play.

Affiliate link: Winter Is Here

I hope you enjoy these beautiful wintery picture books! If you are looking for Christmas-specific picture books, check out my list Good Christmas Books for Catholic Kids.

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Book Lovers’ Christmas Gift Guide 2020

Recommendations for the best quality books to gift this Christmas season! By age and category!

Jump to a category:

Picture Books

Early Elementary

Middle Grade

Tweens and Teens

Adults

Family

Favorite Picture Book Gifts

Saint Story

A beautifully illustrated picture book with an equally beautiful theme about lying, reparation, and forgiveness. Read my full review here!

Affiliate link: St. Conrad and the Wildfire

Christmas Books
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Here’s a brand new Christmas book so you can be sure they won’t already have it! A simple book with a nice theme about spiritual blindness and the power of a little kindness.

Affiliate link: The Grumpy Old Ox

We love this reworking of the beloved Christmas poem. Twas the Evening of Christmas reclaims the traditional Christmas story while keeping the familiar rhythm children love in The Night Before Christmas.

Affiliate link: ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas

For more of my favorite Christmas picture books, check out my list: Good Christmas Books for Catholic Kids!

Classics

Little Annie dearly wants a new friend after her cat Taffy disappears. Despite her best efforts, she finds the forest animals unmanagable. Fortunately, Taffy comes home in time for spring.

Affiliate link: Annie and the Wild Animals

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Dogger always makes me cry, in a good way. Dave loses his favorite stuffed animal, and his older sister gets it back with an act of sacrifice.

Affiliate link: Dogger

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The Brambly Hedge stories are completely charming with the cutest detailed illustrations. This collection is quality hardcover.

Affiliate link: The Complete Brambly Hedge

Recently Published:
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Our Lady’s Wardrobe is a gorgeous introduction to various Marian Apparitions. With a hardcover and high-quality artwork, this book makes a great gift. Full review here: Review of “Our Lady’s Wardrobe”

Affiliate link: Our Lady’s Wardrobe

Poetry Collection

Shirley Hughes is a wonderful British author and illustrator. Out and About is a collection of her poetry about the changing seasons. Follow a little girl and her brother through the year in poems.

Affiliate link: Out and About: A First Book of Poems

Favorite Early Elementary Books Gifts

Saint/Religious Book:
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The “Along the paths of the Gospel” series of Saint stories are wonderful for young readers with only a couple sentences per page and beautiful illustrations. They can be hard to find, but Seton Educational media has some for sale right now.

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In The Adventures of Loupio, a young boy encounters St. Francis of Assisi and his life is transformed. This simple graphic novel series particularly delights young boys.

Affiliate link: The Adventures of Loupio

Christmas Book:
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This beautifully illustrated newly published Christmas books retells a Eastern European legend about a spider who saves Christmas.

Affiliate link: The Spider Who Saved Christmas

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The Miracle of Saint Nicholas is a heart-warming story of a community coming together to create a miraculous Christmas. One of my very favorites.

Affiliate link: The Miracle of Saint Nicholas

Classics:

The Children of Noisy Village play hard, fight occasionally, and always entertain. These charming tales from beloved Swedish author Astrid Lindgren are sure to be a hit with their short chapters and vivid descriptions of village life.

Affiliate link: The Children of Noisy Village

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Jenny and the Cat Club is part of the classics about a little black cat named Jenny’s many adventures. Short chapters and simple stories.

Affiliate link: Jenny and the Cat Club

Recently Published:

Prince Martin is a brave young lad who wins his sword by courage and loyalty. Full review of this awesome contemporary series here: Review of the “Prince Martin” Books

Affiliate link: Prince Martin Wins His Sword

Favorite Middle Grade Books Gifts

Saint Book:

The five volumes of The Saints Chronicles tell the stories of over 25 saints both ancient and modern in a compelling way. The bold graphic novel art style really captures the attention of 8-12 year olds!

Affiliate links: Saints Chronicles Collection 1, Saints Chronicles Collection 2, Saints Chronicles Collection 3, Saints Chronicles Collection 4, and Saints Chronicles Collection 5

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I love Mary Fabyan Windeatt’s Saint biographies! This set has all 20 of her classic books for youth.

Affiliate link: Mary Fabyan Windeatt 20 Book Set

Christmas Book:
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J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas were one of my favorite Christmas season reads growing up. Kids who love the Hobbit will be delighted with these!

Affiliate link: Letters From Father Christmas

Classics:

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald is a fairy tale for older kids. This book with its deep symbolism and evil goblins inspired both Lewis and Tolkien!

Affiliate link: The Princess and the Goblin

Little Britches and his family’s experiences farming in the rural west a century ago will fascinate today’s children. Complete with round-ups, rodeos, natural disasters, and beautiful scenery, it’s hard to believe these books are autobiographical!

Affiliate link: Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

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Check out one of my favorite publishers, Bethlehem Books, for an amazing assortment of historical fiction titles for hte middle grades, all wonderful classics. Some notable series on their site include: The Mitchells series, The Bantry Bay Books, The Letzenstein Chronicles, The Drover’s Road Books, and the Fairchild Family series.

Favorite Gift Books for Teens and Tweens

Religious:

Here’s a saint book modern teens can relate too: one about teens like them! Stories of 8 teenage saints from around the world.

Affiliate link: Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints

The Shadow of His Wings is Fr. Goldman’s incredible story of his ordination to the priesthood while serving as an unwilling Nazi soldier. Amazing memoir from a great priest, sure to make a deep impact on teens.

Affiliate link: The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM

The Plans God has for You is an uplifting little book perfect for the teenage girl in your life! Full review here: Review of “The Plans God Has for You”

Affiliate link: The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women

Classics:

How about a nice edition of a classic series? I love these gorgeous hard-cover editions!

Every teenage girl must read Austen as an inoculation against unsuitable young men! Love this beautiful matched edition!

Affiliate link: Jane Austen: The Complete Works

Here’s another set every teen should own! What better story than The Lord of the Rings to give us hope these days?

Affiliate link: Lord Of The Rings Boxed Set

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C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy is a perennial favorite with teens. Some editions have unfortunate covers, so buy all 3 volumes of the Scribner edition for the most visually appealing collection.

Affiliate link: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength

Favorite Gift Books for Adults

Christmas:

This gorgeous newly published cookbook/coffee table book is sure to delight. Full review here: Review of “The Vatican Christmas Cookbook”

Affiliate link: The Vatican Christmas Cookbook

Advent:

Kendra Tierney’s newest book is the hit of the season this year. In O Come, Emmanuel Tierney brings her years of mothering wisdom to a family-friendly Jesse Tree guide.

Affiliate link: O Come, Emmanuel

Religious:

Any philosophy or theology lover will enjoy this collection of 8 of Lewis’s most popular works including The Four Loves and The Screwtape Letters.

Affiliate link: The C. S. Lewis Signature Classics

Ever silently wondered about the point of the Responsorial Psalms? Fr. Hanson offers a convicting and helpful perspective to understanding and praying the Psalms. I really enjoyed this little book.

Affiliate link: Praying from the Depths of the Psalms

Classics:

Who doesn’t love James Herriot’s heart-warming stories of life as a country vet in the beautiful Yorkshire dales?

Affiliate link: James Herriot Box Set

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Till We Have Faces is Lewis’s last and perhaps greatest achievement. A simple myth with complex layers of meaning, this book appeals to a wide range of interests.

Affiliate link: Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

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Anything Chesterton always comes highly recommended on this blog! The Everlasting Man is Chesterton’s sweeping look at how all history leads to the coming of Christ.

Affiliate link: The Everlasting Man by G K Chesterton

Comedy:

For light comedic relief, Wodehouse can’t be beat. The Code of the Woosters is Wodehouse at his best with the hilarious Jeeves-Wooster duo. If you prefer audiobooks, the Jonathan Cecil narrations are spot-on.

Affiliate link: The Code of the Woosters

Contemporary:
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a modern classic. The historical fiction is exceptionally well done, the characters memorable, and the story pulls on the heart strings.

Affiliate link: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Favorite Family Gifts

For the whole family, I love quality hardcover collections like these!

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women books are wonderful read alouds for the whole family. These gorgeous hardcovers are sure to be treasured.

Affiliate link: Juniper Books Little Women Book Set

This beautifully designed edition of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion is my favorite set!

Affiliate link: Juniper Books Lord of The Rings: The Complete Writings Five-Volume Book Set

My paperback copies of The Chronicles of Narnia are literally falling apart. Any family will love these hardcover copies that will hold up to frequent reading.

Affiliate link: The Chronicles of Narnia | Seven-Volume Hardcover Book Set

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals is a not-too-expensive coffee table style hardcover full of eye-catching animal drawings and fun facts.

Affiliate link: An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

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28 Favorite Books for Catholic Book Clubs

Would it surprise you to learn I don’t have a single favorite book of all time? As any true bibliophile knows, asking a book worm to choose a favorite book is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. It’s just not done.

Even choosing a list of favorites is almost impossible. The only way I can pick favorites is by having a clear purpose. So here you have my favorite books for Catholic book clubs. You’ll find a mix of classics and modern classics and a few quirky little known titles. In a book club, the main criterion is that the book provokes a good discussion, so don’t be surprised to see controversial titles on here!

7 Classic Books for your Book Club

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Evelyn Waugh’s classic story about Charles Ryder’s unexpected conversion is sure to spark a lively discussion. Does he convert due to the troubled Catholic family he meets or despite them?

Buy it through my affiliate link: Brideshead Revisited

Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter is a lovely, thoughtful social commentary on the evolution and disappearance of family farming over the course of one woman’s life. Bittersweet and thought-provoking, this is one of the best books I read this year.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Hannah Coulter

This accessible Russian classic is a lengthy but very rewarding story of sin and redemption.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Crime and Punishment

Love it or hate it, Kristin Lavansdatter is a Scandinavian classic. Every woman identifies with some of Kristin’s struggles, joys, sins, disappointments, and atonement.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Kristin Lavransdatter

Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a sweeping American generational story. His very realistic characters plumb the depths of sin yet show the flashes of grace in everyday life. For a much shorter yet equally gripping Steinbeck novel, try The Pearl.

Buy it through my affiliate link: East of Eden and The Pearl

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Consider Golden Age of Mystery detective story writers like Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie for a lighter classic book club pick. Gaudy Night is often called Dorothy Sayers’ best work. Agatha Christie said one of her favorite mysteries was Crooked house.

Buy them through my affiliate links: Gaudy Night and Crooked House

Here’s an early example of dystopian literature that is particularly relevant today. Bradbury’s creepy yet captivating story about freedom of speech and thought is as timely now as when it was published.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Fahrenheit 451

7 Christian Classics for your Book club

A love story, a conversion story, and a story of loss: this book is complex and beautiful. Perfect for fans of C. S. Lewis!

Buy it through my affiliate link: A Severe Mercy

Speaking of C. S. Lewis, one of my favorite books is his retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth in Till We Have Faces. This book inspired one of the best discussion nights at my book club!

Buy it through my affiliate link: Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

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One more C. S. Lewis book! If you are looking for a shorter allegorical type book, The Great Divorce is a fine contribution to the tradition of spiritual journey books such as The Divine Comedy.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Great Divorce

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Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy and In this House of Brede are two Rumer Godden books guaranteed to thrill and surprise you. Soaring stories with deep insight into human nature. Check out my review of Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy here!

Buy through my affiliate link: Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy and In this House of Brede

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G. K. Chesterton’s name is synonymous with perfect paradoxes and incredible ingenuity in imagination in the best literary circles. For a first foray into this masterful Catholic writer’s fiction, try Manalive or The Man Who was Thursday. For non-fiction, I recommend trying The Everlasting Man.

Buy through my affiliate link: Manalive, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Everlasting Man

The beloved Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux is brought to Catholics in a reader-friendly meditation style in I Believe in Love. This makes a lovely book to read during Lent, Advent, or any time you desire a spiritual classic.

Buy through my affiliate link: I Believe in Love

Caryll Houselander’s The Reed of Godis one of the most lovely and transformative Marian books I’ve ever read.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Reed of God

7 Non-fiction Titles for your Book Club

Quiet was a transformative book for me in accepting and even embracing my identity as an introvert. I recommend it for a book club that likes science-backed books. Introverted Mom is a similar introvert-focused book with a more personal, feelings-based flavor. For a full review of Introverted Mom click here!

Buy either through my affiliate link: Quiet and Introverted Mom

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The Girl with the Seven Names is a saddening, surprising, enlightening book about what it’s really like to grow up in North Korea. This is a great contemporary book pick that highlights current day issues.

Buy through my affiliate link: The Girl with Seven Names

I’ve read most of Malcolm Gladwell’s books with great interest. You may find yourself disagreeing with his conclusions at times, but Outliers, Blink, and his other books are fascinating and may startle you out of preconceptions about how success is achieved, how we make decisions, and more.

Buy through my affiliate links: Outliers: The Story of Success and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks highlights ethical and racial issues in American medicine. Sure to generate a spirited discussion!

Buy through my affiliate link: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Boys in the Boat is a quintessential American success story about nine working class young men who are determined to beat the odds and win a rowing gold in the 1936 Olympics.

Buy through my affiliate link: The Boys in the Boat

J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a modern day Cinderella story. This young man from a broken, addiction-ridden family succeeded in attending Harvard Law. Vance’s thought-provoking take on Appalachian America problems is balanced by his obvious love for his region and family. Quite a bit of language and domestic violence.

Buy through my affiliate link: Hillbilly Elegy

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Educated is another memoir about a girl from a dysfunctional family who achieved academic success. Lots to discuss in this controversial memoir! Check out my full review here! Trigger warning: domestic violence.

Buy through my affiliate link: Educated: A Memoir

7 Contemporary Fiction Titles for your Book Club

A Man Called Ove is one of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve closed the cover. An isolated elderly man has just decided to commit suicide when his friendly neighbors move in and turn his life upside down. A little crass, some language, but still very worth reading.

Buy it through my affiliate link: A Man Called Ove

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is quickly becoming a modern day classic. This charming story pulls at your heart strings, and every book club will love the themes about books changing the course of peoples’ lives.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

A Russian aristocrat is told he must live the rest of his life in a luxury hotel. Great themes about friendship, isolation, civility, and community.

Buy through my affiliate link: A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

This lyrical bestseller by Delia Owens is such a beautifully written book I had to include it despite some reservations. Pros: gripping coming of age story about an isolated child in the swamps; beautiful language and tribute to the beauty of creation. Cons: unnecessary sensuality and sex scene, not integral to plot and easily skipped.

Buy through my affiliate link:

Where the Crawdads Sing

The Nightingale is a book that delves deep into the horror of life in occupied France during World War II. But it’s also a celebration of the strength and courage of the French women who helped win the war in diverse ways.

Trigger warning: lots of violence, rape, a little language.

Buy through my affiliate link: The Nightingale: A Novel

One last WWII novel! All the Light We Cannot See is a fascinating story about two children, one French and one German, growing up in the years leading up to WWII. A clever juxtaposition of their points of view carries the story towards their inevitable meeting in occupied France.

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In this unexpected novel by a Spanish author, a typical young woman comes to an eccentric town that seems to exist outside of (or in spite of) the modern world. Lots to unpack in this book about distributism, classical education, the role of women and men, and more.

Buy through my affiliate link: The Awakening of Miss Prim: A Novel

To buy these books through Bookshop, a website that supports indpendent bookshops, check out my affiliate page there: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-club-picks-4625ebbd-eec9-421b-bf20-91cbf1cbd5a2

Books on Evolution and Intelligent Design for Catholic Teens and Adults

One day your teenager is going to ask the evolution question. “Was Darwin right and if so what does that mean for the Genesis creation account and our faith in a Creator?

If Darwin was correct in his theory that all life on earth can be explained by natural selection and evolution, how can the Genesis account be correct? Once they begin questioning the veracity of the Bible and God’s role as Creator, a teen’s faith can quickly crumble.

But does it have to be a Faith versus Science dichotomy?

There are 3 major lines of thought on the origins of life.

1. Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory is the most accepted in scientific textbooks. It assumes no Creator.

2. “Young Earth Creationism” is a primarily Protestant theory of the origin of life; it assumes the Genesis creation account is true on a mostly literal basis and posits a very young earth to fit with the account.

3. The third theory of the origins of life is Intelligent Design theory, which has been promoted by a minority of scientists ever since Darwin published the “Origin of Species” in 1859. Intelligent Design Theory accepts many of Darwin’s discoveries and theories, but still claims the need for a Creative Force: the Intelligent Designer.

My approach to the Evolution Question as a teen was to tackle it head on by reading everything I could find on the topic! I read a variety of books pro-Darwin, anti-Darwin, pro-Young Earth, anti-Young Earth, and pro-Intelligent Design. The key point to remember is that these are all scientific theories, which means none of them are proven. Whatever your opinion on the question of life origins and evolution, it’s worth looking at all the theories.

Though I include books that explain each theory, there is a predominance of pro-Intelligent Design books on this list since I personally find that synthesis of faith and science most convincing.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small fee for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Pro Darwinian Evolution

Why read The Origin of Species? To get a fair idea of what Darwin actually claimed and what his evidence was.

Official Catholic Teaching

Humani Generis is Pope Pius XII’s teaching on the question of Evolution. He makes several important distinctions about what the Catholic Faith requires us to believe as regards the origins of human life. Key points include: that Catholics must believe the soul to be immediately created by God and that there is room for discussion about the creation of the human body. But Pius XII firmly states that Catholics must reject polygenism.

Pro Intelligent Design

Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box is one of the simplest and most elegant challenges to Darwinian Evolution I have read. He draws on emerging research in Biochemistry to show the fulfillment of some of Darwin’s own reservations about his evolutionary theory. After explaining the irreducible complexity of the cell, Behe argues for the existence of a Designer.

Pro Intelligent Design

Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell is an in-depth look at the sheer information contained in each DNA molecules, and what that means in terms of evolution and life origins. This book specifically focuses on the first origins of life.

Pro Intelligent Design

Darwin’s Doubt is a continuation of Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. Broader in its scope than the previous volume, Darwin’s Doubt looks at the Cambrian explosion, Darwin’s reservations about his own theory, and how most evolutionary theories presuppose an existence source of complex information.

Pro Intelligent Design

The latest in the Intelligent Design/Darwinism debate, Debating Darwin’s Doubt, is Stephen Meyer and other Intelligent Design scientists’ response to some of the criticism he received for Darwin’s Doubt.

Pro Intelligent Design

For the philosophically minded, From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again is a convincing argument for Intelligent Design based on final causality and formal causality. Gilson’s teleological argument is pure philosophy: no appeals to religious authority or revelation.

Synthesis of Catholic Teaching

Polish priest Michael Chaberek’s recent book is a well-done synthesis of 2000 years of Catholic teaching on Creation and the various Catholic commentaries on evolutionary t heory in the last 200 years. Chaberek is notable for his honesty in explaining that though he is a proponent of Intelligent Design, there is nothing inherently contrary to Catholic belief in the concept of macro-evolution.

In Six Days by [John Ashton]

Pro Young Earth Creationism

In Six Days is a synthesis of many pro-Creationism scientists reasons for their beliefs. Geologists, paleontologists, and more explain their reasons for believing in a younger earth.

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by [Gould, Stephen Jay]

Pro Darwnian Evolution

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould is one of the more convincing modernized Darwinian theories that attempts to “fix” some of the more glaring errors in Darwin’s original work while keeping the key tenets of Macro-evolution. His theory of punctuated equilibrium is fascinating. He posits long periods of stability punctuated by sudden bursts of evolutionary change. Why these sudden bursts of change?

Pro Intelligent Design

The Privileged Planet is a fascinating look at the uniqueness of planet earth. This book offers a physics and cosmology based challenge to the notion that our place in the universe is random.

Looking for more great lists for Catholic teens? Check out some of my other book lists!

Looking for more great books for Catholic Adults? Check out my lists for parents!

Printable Reading List: 110 Classic Books for Middle Grade Boys

Did you enjoy my recent printable reading list of 90 Classic Books for Middle Grade Girls? Here’s a similar list for the boys!

Check out this FREE downloadable printable list to help your sons track their reading throughout the middle grade! It’s based on my popular book list 60 Classic Books for Middle Grade Boys, but has even more awesome book ideas!

Here’s a preview of what the first page looks like!

Both boys and adventure-loving girls will love these classic books about high adventure, funny talking animals, mysteries, and more!

To download this FREE pdf, click on the link below!

Interested in receiving weekly emails with new book reviews, book lists, or printables from Good Books for Catholic Kids? Sign up to receive my weekly email!

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Printable Reading List: 90 Classic Books for Middle Grade Girls

90 Classic Books for Middle Grade Girls

Today I’m excited to share my new project with you! Due to popular demand from my readers, I’m beginning a series of printable reading lists with check boxes and space for date read so your children can track their reading! Click the link below to download!

This is a free printable pdf for your daughter to keep track of her middle grade reading. I based this list on my popular book list 50 Classic Books that Middle Grade Girls Love but added in sequels and a few extra titles to bring the total number of titles up to 90! That’s a lot of books! Challenge your daughter to read them all between the ages of 8-12. These are classics, so most libraries should have a high percentage of these books available to borrow.

Here’s a peek at what it looks like!

I’m so happy with how it turned out!

90 Classic Books for Middle Grade Girls Reading Checklist preview

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Sleepy Bedtime Stories for Little Ones

Looking for that quintessential bedtime story that your little one will listen to every single night before going to bed? These books have gentle, rhythmic text, sweet illustrations, and timeless themes about bedtime and sleep.

Sylvia Long’s lovely new version of the classic lullaby Hush Little Baby has an amazing nature theme. A mother rabbit soothes her little one to bed by pointing out the natural beauty around them. A great improvement on the mercenary motif in the traditional version of this popular bedtime song!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small fee for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Each beautiful page of Time for Bed shows a mother baby and her animal preparing for bed. We love the gorgeous illustrations in this soothing book.

In Baby’s Boat, an adorable little boy sails across a sleepy sea in his moonboat, fishing with star bait. A sure recipe for sweet dreams.

In Little Donkey Close Your Eyes, animal mothers urge their babies to close their eyes in this simple, calming poem by beloved author Margaret Wise Brown.

A soothing poem about falling asleep by Eric Metaxas is complemented by Nancy Tillman’s gorgeous illustrations in It’s Time to Sleep, My Love. Animals around the world prepare for bed and coax their babies to sleep.

In The Sleep Ponies, a grandmother teaches her rosy-cheeked grandchild to calm her body and mind by picturing a herd of adorable ponies carrying her off to sweet dreams.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is a favorite with the boys! Each might machine on a construction site prepares for bed and goes to sleep in this goodnight story.

Bear Can’t Sleep and Bear Snores On are two adorable books about a bear who can’t sleep (and then oversleeps!)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is the quintessential bedtime classic that children love hearing again and again.

Donald and his rabbit both can’t sleep! Donald begins to emphasize with his mother as he keeps trying to settle down his rambunctious rabbit friend in Are You Asleep, Rabbit?

In this gorgeously illustrated bedtime story, a little boy asks his dad how each animal on the farm goes to sleep. I love the patient, sleepy dad and the curious boy in Going to Sleep on the Farm.

50 Beautiful Picture Books You Will Want to Own

The function of all art lies in fact in breaking through the narrow and tortuous enclosure of the finite, in which man is immersed while living here below, and in providing a window to the infinite for his hungry soul.

“The Function of Art” ~ Pope Pius XII

In our family, one way we find that glimpse into the infinite is through beautiful picture books. The artists and illustrators of the books listed here have used their talents to provide children with truly beautiful pictures which fill their hearts with a love for beauty. As they grow older, that foundation will prepare them to contemplate the beauty and majesty of their Creator.

We love Josephine Nobisso’s wonderful Catholic stories which are beautifully complemented by Katlin Szegedi’s luminous illustrations. Check out both their collaborations: The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith and Take It to the Queen: A Tale of Hope.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links, which means that I earn a small fee for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Elsa Beskow’s attention to detail and soft watercolors are so enchanting! Peter’s Old House is a heart-warming story of a community coming together to rebuild a kind but poor neighbor’s house.

Many of Elsa Beskow’s stories, like Peter in Blueberry Land, have a fairy tale quality that works perfectly with her delicate, lovely illustrations.

Demi’s masterful and original artwork complement several beautiful books about the saints, including: Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Bernadette, and Hildegard of Bingen.

Demi’s masterful and original artwork complement several beautiful books about the saints, including: Saint Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, and Saint Bernadette and the Miracles of Lourdes.

Ruth Sanderson’s Cinderella retelling has the most gorgeous fairy tale illustrations with lots of silvers and magical glows. She also hsa other incredibly beautiful versions of classic fairy tales like Rose Red and Snow White.

We also enjoy Sanderson’s versions of unique fairy tales from around the world such as The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring and The Enchanted Wood.

Ruth Sanderson also has illustrated some lovely religious books, like The Nativity and Saints: Lives & Illuminations.

The Complete Brambly Hedge is chock-full of lovely, detailed nature illustrations and perfectly whiskered mice. We love these peaceful stories, perfect for a summer day.

British author and illustrator Jane Hissey draws the most charming pictures of huggable stuffed animals. We love The Old Bear Collection and all its sequels.

Miss Rumphius wants to make the world a more beautiful place. So, apparently, does author and illustrator Barbara Cooney, whose delicate depictions of coastal New England make me want to visit.

Jan Brett has perfected picture books for children. Simple but entertaining stories, often based on fairy tales, and the most detailed artwork you’ll ever see. Children spend hours pouring over her books. Some of our favorites include: Mossy, Annie and the Wild Animals, The Hat, Town Mouse, Country Mouse, and Cinders.

The talented Trina Hyman’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood features a sweet, very young Red Riding Hood and rich woodland scenes. Warning for littler readers: this retelling includes the wolf swallowing both Red and Grandma, and then the Woodsman cutting up the wolf to rescue them.

We also enjoy the Trina Schart Hyman illustrions in Margaret Hodges’ retellings of The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur and Saint George and the Dragon

The oil paintings in Heckedy Peg provide a richness and depth seldom found in picture books. In this fairy tale, a mother must rescue her 7 children from an evil witch.

Rechenka’s Eggs is the story of a miracle for a lonely old woman. Patricia Polacco captures the Russian flavor of this story with intricate, colorful illustrations.

The artwork in Claire Nivola’s childhood memoir, Orani, glows with a warm Mediterranean vibe. A simple description of an American girl’s impressions of the vibrant everyday life in a traditional Italian village.

In Jerry Pinkney’s wordless version of The Lion & the Mouse, the pictures themselves tell the classic fable. Other beautifully executed Pinkney books include The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Tortoise & the Hare.

Out and About is a perfect introduction to poetry, complemented by lovely drawings of the changing seasons and family life.

Another beautiful Shirley Hughes book is Lucy and Tom at the Seaside. Hughes’ style lends itself well to the detailed beach scenes depicting a family’s day at the seaside.

The Sleep Ponies is a whimsical dream story with appropriately dreamy, luminous watercolors throughout.

Paul Zelinsky’s gorgeous retelling of Rapunzel is rich and compelling.

I love the old English folk song Over in the Meadow, and have two favorite versions. I appreciate the colorful slavic style in Feodor Rojankovsky’s illustrations.

But I also love the incredibly realistic illustrations in Feirabend’s version of Over in the Meadow. These animals could leap right off the page!

This book is beautiful, every margin is full of delicate drawings of seeds and plants, and it helps kids appreciate the gorgeous bounty of a garden. We love How Groundhog’s Garden Grew!

Days on the Farm: This lovely storybook collection has six stories of farm life with delicate, detailed illustrations inspired by life on a sheep farm.

Our Lady's Wardrobe

The amazing illustrations in Our Lady’s Wardrobe fit perfectly with the heavenly theme! Check out my full review here!

Penny Dale’s sweet pictures of children mesh well with Martin Waddell’s insightful stories about the dynamics of dealing with a new sibling in Rosie’s Babie and When the Teddy Bears Came.

Little Donkey Close Your Eyes is a classic Margaret Wise Brown story paired with gorgeous bright illustrations in sunset shades.

Home Sweet Home: This beautiful poem blessing creation is paired with Ashley Wolff’s detailed illustrations.

Unique illustrations and perspectives capture these adorable Owl Babies to a feather.

David Wiesner’s realistic illustrations capture the motion and force of the Hurricane.

Graeme Base’s Animalia is a new height in alphabet books. Abundant alliteration, vibrant illustrations, and a unique meshing of fantasy and reality make this book memorable.

Box Turtle at Long Pond depicts a day in the life of a turtle with vibrant, realistic pictures.

GreatRedwallFeast.jpg

In The Great Redwall Feast, Brian Jacques describes a merry feast in the Abbey, rife with cheerful animals.

Jim Arnosky’s love for plants and animals can be seen in his carefully executed drawings. We enjoy his children’s picture books such Rabbits and Raindrops and Every Autumn Comes the Bear.

Maurice Pledger draws intricate, colorful books for little ones. His touch and feel books like Nature Trails are perfect for nurturing an appreciation for nature and wildlife.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of beautiful picture books! Feel free to comment with books you would like to see added to this list!

Review of “Dune”

Dune book review

Dune is often called a Science Fiction masterpiece. Now, in 2020, it’s coming out as a movie that will probably be a major hit. After the release of the movie, I’m guessing the Dune books will enjoy a new wave of popularity, so I recently read them with a view to determining their level of appropriateness for teen readers. In order to make this review a manageable length, I will concentrate on the issues I found in the first book.

Premise

Dune‘s setting is a futuristic interplanetary society where noble houses, a corrupt emperor, a power-hungry pilot’s Guild, and big-business CHOAM vie for power and wealth. There’s also the Bene Gesserit, a warrior-nun group which pursues its own agenda striving for racial purity and power. Wealth in the world of Dune is measured in terms of Melange, also called Spice, a drug which has whole universe under its thrall.

The plot centers around Paul Atreides, a teenager coming of age in one of the noble houses. Paul’s family takes charge of Arrakis, the planet which produces all the Spice. Paul is a unique combination of visionary, genius, and leader. With the aid of his Bene Gesserit mother Lady Jessica, he becomes the leader of the Fremen, a nomadic warrior tribe who control the Spice fields. At the head of the Fremen, Paul takes control of the Empire.

There’s no denying that the scope and richness of the Dune series is captivating. The insights about greed for power and wealth and its results are commendable. I even appreciated the first book simply as a literary work. But as a parent, I found several concerning aspects with this book on multiple levels.

Concerns

Drug Use: the entire planetary system in the world of Dune is addicted to Spice, their drug of choice. Many are well aware of this fact, but choose addiction because they want the heightened senses and visions the Spice brings. There is a heavy emphasis on the powers and enhancements the drug provides. A recipe for encouraging teens to try drugs, anyone?

Sexual content: Lady Jessica is a concubine. There is a scene where another Bene Gesserit “sister” is sent by her husband to sleep with a teenage boy whose DNA they want for their breeding program. Paul takes a concubine from among the Fremen and has a son with her. None of this is particularly graphic; it is more stated than described.

Anti-Catholic content: The Bene Gesserit are basically nuns. Well, except they’re obsessed with preserving the best genes, so frequently become concubines, commit adultery, and so on. They use terms like “Reverend Mother” for their leaders. They send “Missionaries” to other planets to sew seeds of “storylines” in case one of the sisterhood is ever in need. The concept of an “awaited Messiah” is one of these intentionally created legends.

Both the depiction of Bene Gesserit and use of Messiah motif are troublesome. In the world of Dune, the coming of a Messiah is basically a big hoax carefully planned for millennia. “Religion” is an intentional manipulative force used by the Bene Geserit to further their own secret goals of racial purity.

Conclusions

I really dislike it when authors take Catholic terms and intentionally try to pervert the mental connotations, seeding doubt and reversion in the reader’s mind when they hear terms like “Reverend Mother,” “Messiah,” or “Missionary.” In Dune, this agenda extended to the entire concept of religion. For me, that largely ruined the Dune books so I wouldn’t recommend them for teens.

But, if you have an older teen who loves science fiction and really wants to read them, I recommend encouraging an analytical approach. For example, ask your teen to intentionally try to spot all the examples of twisting Religion and Christian terms in a negative way. Or ask them to form an opinion on whether author Herbert was intentionally normalizing drug use and free love. A mature teen can gain a lot of benefit can by this kind of intentional analysis.

Looking for better books for your teens? Check out my book lists, especially my lists for high schoolers!

15 Inspiring Books about Catholic Converts

I’m always inspired by conversion stories. The thirst for truth, the sacrifices, the joy of Catholic converts, is so heartening to experience vicariously through these first-person accounts of modern day converts like Jennifer Fulwiler, Edith Stein, Peter Kreeft, Abby Johnson and more.

In the days of the early, persecuted Church, the occasional brave Christian would write an apologia: an explanation and defense of his Christian beliefs. Even in later years, this tradition continued, as in John Henry Newmans Apologia Pro Vita Sua .The apologia tradition has been revived in recent years. Since Catholicism is such a maligned religion, high-profile converts are once again called to make a defense of their beliefs. Enjoy each modern day apologia on this list, and be uplifted and confirmed in your Catholic faith.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

Of all the conversion stories I’ve read, one of the most moving is Jennifer Fulwiler’s Something Other Than God. A passionately rational atheist, Jennifer is cruising through a Hollywood-perfect life complete with wealth, friends, and a handsome husband. But she keeps wondering, “Why does anything matter?” This book is funny and insightful and rationally argued all at once.

Rome Sweet Home

Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s story of conversion starts in a Presbyterian Seminary and ends in Rome Sweet Home. The Hahn’s journey is convicting in its Theological integrity, yet maintains an easy-to-follow conversational style throughout.

Yes, Left to Tell isn’t strictly a conversion story in the sense that Immaculee was raised Catholic. But, when she was confronted with the Rwandan genocide, her faith is tested by fire. This is her story of choosing to embrace her Catholic faith, forgiveness, and love as she experienced intense persecution.

Not God's Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms by [Holly Ordway]

Not God’s Type is English professor and fencer Holly Ordway’s journey from Atheism to Catholicism. I loved that Ordway’s lifetime of exposure to great literature plays a roll in her conversion. Also, you learn quite a bit about fencing.

When pressed, I usually admit Chesterton is my favorite author. Orthodoxy is his exuberant, joyous reflections on some of the formative ideas that led him to Catholicism. His wit and wisdom never disappoint.

Edith Stein is the dramatic story of the talented German philosopher who became a Catholic, a Carmelite Nun, and eventually died in Auschwitz.

Honey from the Rock

For more Jewish conversion stories, check out Honey from the Rock. Here are the moving stories of 16 Jews who found the fulfillment of their faith in Catholicism.

Surprised By Truth, Surprised by Truth 2, and Surprised by Truth 3 are a trilogy of thoughtful essays from a variety of (mostly) Protestant converts explaining their journey to Catholicism. Inspiring and give you a great basis in Apologetics. These books were a great source of faith growth for me as a teenager.

Chosen

Chosen is a chunky book, containing 23 conversion stories. There’s a pleasing diversity in this collection, which features Wiccans, atheists, agnostics, and Protestant converts.

Some times it seems like life issues like abortion, contraception, and sterilization drive people away from Catholicism. This refreshing collection of 10 conversion stories features the opposite: how the Catholic Church’s strong teachings on the sanctity of life led to conversions.

From Atheism to Catholicism by [Marcus Grodi, Brandon McGinley]

This collection focuses on atheists ( and agnostics) who found their way to Catholicism. Includes Joseph Pearce’s conversion.

The Price to Pay

Joseph Fadelle knew full well that to become a Christian in his country was to face death. This is a dramatic story of a young Islamic man’s determination to find truth and the true faith no matter what the cost.

From Islam to Christ

Derya Little’s journey from Islam to Protestantism to Catholicism is unlikely, to say the least! _ offers a fascinating story of God changing a young woman’s heart.

Abby Johnson’s conversion to Catholicism came right after her conversion to the pro-life cause, described in Unplanned. Both of Abby’s conversion were partially precipitated by her exposure to the faithful Catholics of 40 Days for Life. A very readable and fast-paced book.

Faith and Reason

Faith and Reason is a collection of 10 philosophers’ conversion stories. Each philosopher shares his or her meticulously considered reasons for choosing Catholicism. The theme in these essays is that wisdom and reason can lead people to God. Includes Peter Kreeft’s conversion story.

For more inspiring books for Catholic adults, check out my other lists!