three beige gift boxes

Book Lovers’ Christmas Gift Guide 2021

Give someone you love the gift of getting lost in a good story this Christmas!

What’s better than a book for Christmas? It doesn’t take up much space, is easy to mail, and gives the gift of an experience without leaving the comfort of your home! Find picture books, chapter books, picks for teens, and even the adult who won’t read on your list here this year!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you buy through my link I recieve a small fee at no additional cost to you.

Beautiful picture books to treasure

Swedish author Elsa Beskow’s beautifully illustrated picture books are favorites at our house. In Peter’s Old House, a community comes together to help renovate an old neighbor’s house.

Or if you’re looking for a classic fairy tale gift, Beskow’s rendition of Thumbelina may be the perfect fit.

Classic Picture Books that no one knows about

Flicka, Dicka, and Ricka are three sisters who always dress the same. In Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Bake a Cake, they learn how to make the perfect cake for their mothers’ birthday. This vintage series of charming stories about three sisters is over 100 years old, but back in print in collectible hardcover editions at a reasonable price! Only $10 a book!

Have little boys? No worries, there’s a brother series about three little boys named Snipp, Snapp, Snurr that is equally charming! (Note that these are only available in paperback that I could find).

For the Little Girl in Your Life

Have a 3-6 year old girl in your life? She’s sure to love The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook. These simple and sweet stories about a little girl’s small everyday village adventures will charm you. Plenty of illustrations and short chapters help hold interest making this a great first chapter book.

For the small boy with the heart for big adventure

Tall tales are always a hit with the 4-6 year old boy crowd. Try Steven Kellog’s renditions of Paul Bunyan, Mike Fink, and Pecos Bill with their detailed illustrations.

Or for a really unique and neat gift, give this little-known classic story from Virginia Lee Burton: Calico the Wonder Horse: Christmas Gift Edition. Calico is a smart ranch horse who saves the day when Stewy Stinker and his Bad Men come to town to try to steal Christmas.

For the elementary schoolers in your life

This interactive edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is amazingly detailed! Tons of illustrations and even movable elements. Watch the Cheshire Cat appear and disappear, help Alice get bigger and smaller, and more. Hardcover quality edition at a very good price!

Or for the adventurous child, you can’t go wrong with this beautiful hardcover illustrated edition of The Hobbit. Again, quality illustrations, paper quality, and binding make this a great gift edition of a beloved classic.

For your godchild, niece or nephew, or child who loves audiobooks

My kids will listen to Glory Stories on repeat if I let them! These full cast productions bring the saint to life in a vivid and memorable way. There’s a nice variety of Saint Stories to choose from, ancient to modern. My kids’ current favorite is the newly released story of Blessed Carlo Acutis, available from publisher Holy Heroes.

The book that every teen should read

Even middle schoolers can understand the message in Animal Farm, George Orwell’s classic dystopian allegory about the dangers of Communism.

For the teen who enjoys historical fiction

I really enjoyed Sword and Serpent, the first in a Catholic historical fiction series which imagines the lives of St. George, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Nicholas, St. Blaise, and other early saints.

For the teen who loves fantasy and fairy tales

Shannon Hale’s rendition of the fairy tale The Goose Girl is masterfully done! A little romance, a lot of adventure, and great themes about friendship and courage make this a great teen novel.

For the teen who’s ready for a classic mystery

I’ve gotten the question of which Agatha Christie to start a teen on a few times. You can’t go wrong with The Secret Adversary, Crooked House, or Murder on the Orient Express. (Note that some Agatha Christie books mentions adulterous relationships as a plot point but there is never any sexual content.)

For that teen or adult who won’t read a book

What about Andy Serkis’s amazing new performance of the Lord of the Rings? An unabridged reading by the man who voiced Gollum- what could be better!? Audio Books still count as books!

For the adult story lover on your list

Reading Piranesi was a highlight in my 2021 Literary Adventures. This thought-provoking story inspired by The Magician’s Nephew brings together mystery, art, philosophy, and suspense into a unique and gripping plot. My full Review of “Piranesi” is up on the blog.

For the adult who loves the classics and beautiful editions

Check out the beautiful editions at The Folio Society! Most book lovers would drool over these gorgeous illustrated copies of favorites like Around the World in 80 Days, Austen’s books, the Bronte classics, or The Wind in the Willows.

Image of Around the World in Eighty Days book

For that person who likes looooonnnngggg (and amazing!) books

I’ve read pretty much everything Michael O’Brien has written. The Island of the World is my favorite. So if you need a tome for someone like me who thinks 1000+ pages is a positive, then you’ve found the perfect reflection on art, love, and the power of suffering.

For the Mystery Lover

For those who love classic mysteries but have read all the greats like Sayers and Christie and Allingham, Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a contemporary mystery in the classic tradition. Full review up on the blog here.

For the adult who loves historical fiction

A Gentleman in Moscow is one of those books that draws you right back into a particular time period and way of life. Aristocrat Alexi is sentenced to lifelong house arrest in the attic of the Grand Hotel in Moscow as the Communists take over Russia. How does the last Gentleman remaining in Moscow maintain sanity, find community, and even thrive over the next decades?

For more ideas, check out my 2020 Christmas book guide!

Looking for books ABOUT Christmas?

Check out my Christmas book round up: Good Christmas Books for Catholic Kids

Catholic Board Books for Catholic Toddlers

There’s been an explosion of board books written just for Catholic toddlers in the last few years. From mini Catechisms to Mass books, there’s a board book for that now!

This is so exciting to see! How wonderful to be able to share the treasures of our faith with the littlest Catholics in an age appropriate (and rip-proof) way!

If you’re a godmother looking for a Baptismal gift, or a godparent looking for a Christmas present, or a mom looking for a stocking stuffer, these books will be perfect!

Bible Stories & Verses

Wow! These gorgeous board books from St. Augustine Academy Press are eye-catchers. The lithographs are based on Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld’s 1860 Bible in Pictures. The idea here is that even if the child is too young to listen to the full text of a Bible story, they can learn the gist of it from these detailed pictures.

Buy it directly from the publisher: St. Augustine Academy Press

Read your child some of the simplest and most comforting Scripture verses in The Word of the Lord. These are great first memory verses!

Buy it through my Amazon Affiliate link: The Word of the Lord: A Child’s First Scripture Verses

Or buy it through my Good News Book Shop link: The Word of the Lord

Catholic Catechism Board Books

Katie Warner brings you the shortest and sweetest Catechism of all. Simple one line affirmations encourage the littlest toddlers to learn basic truths such as “God made you and rejoices in you.”

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Kiddie Cat: A Child’s First Catechism Lesson

Or buy it through Good New Book Shop: Kiddie Cat

Looking for a little more depth but still a simple presentation? Check out the Teeny Tiny Theology series. These four books provide an introduction to Christology (the study of Jesus Christ and his role in salvation) the Trinity and more!

Buy them through my Amazon affiliate links: Teeny Tiny Theology: Christology

Teeny Tiny Theology: The Trinity

Teeny Tiny Theology: Salvation History

Teeny Tiny Theology: Sacred Scripture

Cute illustrations in these Little Books for Catholic Kids. Books on the Corporal Works of Mercy, Spiritual Works of Mercy, Prayer, Angels, and more.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Aquinas Kids Little Books for Catholic Kids Box Set

Christmas Board Books

I’ve always loved reading this rhythmic, soothing board book to my babies at Christmas time. Captures the spirit of preparing and waiting patiently (or impatiently) for Christmas very well.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Who is Coming to Our House?

Christmas in the Manger is a simple explanation of Christmas symbols for the littlest children.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Christmas in the Manger

The Story of Christmas is a slightly longer board book that explains the true meaning of Christmas in a way that helps toddlers understand it’s not just all about the presents!

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Story of Christmas

Saints Board Books

This isn’t just a book of saint stories. It’s a book of advice from the saints! Read your child words of wisdom from some of the greatest saints such as St. Padre Pio’s “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry!”

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Cloud of Witnesses: A Child’s First Book of Saints

Or buy it through Good News Book Shop: Cloud of Witnesses

In this board book, Catholic toddlers become familiar with the apparitions of Fatima and Guadalupe, Our Lord’s appearances to St. Faustina, and the Annunciation.

Buy it through the publisher: Holy Heroes

The Mass

Sturdy and durable, this board book is the best Mass book for toddlers I’ve found. Written by a Catholic Mom, it includes I spy, match the vestments, lift the flaps at the end of each part of the Liturgy of the Word, and more.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: My First Interactive Mass Book

Looking for something a little more advanced? Check out my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

photo of pyramid during daytime

Ancient Egypt Books

Who else is studying ancient civilizations this year? After testing out a pyramid of Egyptian picture and chapter books, I wanted to share our favorite stories. Immerse yourself in the art, legends, and culture of Ancient Egypt with these beautiful books!

Note that although many books on this list are picture books, they are not for babies! Elementary and middle school aged readers will enjoy and benefit from the wealth of detail in these beautiful books.

This newly back in print classic strikingly illustrates the building of the boat that is buried at the Great Pyramid at Giza. Learn about the Egyptian belief in the afterlife and their boatbuilding skills.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Pharaoh’s Boat

Buy it through Bookshop: Ancient Egypt Book List

Did you know the ancient Egyptians told a version of the Cinderella story? This story, recorded in the first century, is matched with jewel toned illustrations in this beautiful edition.

Buy it through my Amazon link: The Egyptian Cinderella

Buy it through bookshop: Ancient Egypt Book List

Explore hieroglyphics with this ancient Egyptian story based on hieroglpys from an ancient papyrus scroll. Each page has a replica of a section of the ancient scroll, along with a translation and gorgeous illustrations.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs

Graeme Base combines hieroglyphs, a riddle, and a legend into a fun Egyptian immersion experience. Expensive to buy new, but available used or at many libraries.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Jewel Fish of Karnak

David Macaulay’s strikingly simple black and white illustrations bring to life the details of Egyptian pyramid building. I love all the detailed drawings in Macaulay’s books.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Pyramid

Buy it through my Bookshop link: Ancient Egypt Book List

Or go the graphic novel route with this eye-catching comic book style account of the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza. This one was a big hit with my 8 year old.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Building Of The Great Pyramid

Join Will, the son of an archaeologist, on an unforgettable trip to help uncover the ruins at Giza. Will hopes to make a great discovery- like a mummy! This book has lots of cool period details about excavation and archaeology.

Buy through my Amazon affiliate link: The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt

Buy through my Bookshop page: Ancient Egypt Book List

Demi’s style lends itself well to Egyptian art. This biography of Tutankhamun is quite thorough, going from birth to death. It does include details that may require parental discussion such as the fact that Tutankhamun married his half sister. There’s also an interesting account of the period of Egyptian monotheism in which they worshipped one God, Aten. Tutankhamun allowed his subjects to choose whether to worship the traditional cast of Egyptian gods or this one god, Aten.

Buy through my Amazon link: Tutankhamun

Buy it through my Bookshop page: Ancient Egypt Book List

This is a fun little series of well-illustrated books that describe daily life for a child in different cultures. Lots of interesting details about “Growing Up in Ancient Egypt.”

Buy through my Amazon affiliate link: Growing Up In Ancient Egypt

Traditional history textbook meets oral tradition in The Story of Civilization. I love that the author includes frequent “Living History” sections with tales, legends, or historical fiction accounts that bring important characters to life for young readers. We like this best as the audiobook, which is professionally dramatized.

Buy the book or audiobook through my Amazon affiliate link: The Story of Civilization: Volume I – The Ancient World

Buy through my Bookshop page: Ancient Egypt Book List

For readers aged 10 and older, Eloise McGraw’s Newberry award winning The Golden Goblet will bring Ancient Egypt to life. A classic style tale of a poor boy with a dream overcoming the odds.

Buy through my Amazon afflink: The Golden Goblet

Buy through my Bookshop page: Ancient Egypt Book List

Mara, Daughter of the Nile is Eloise McGraw’s other masterful historical fiction novel set in Ancient Egypt. Most appropriate for ages 12 and up due to a strong Romantic subplot, this exciting espionage story brings the court of Hatshepsut to life like no other!

Buy through my Amazon afflink: Mara, Daughter of the Nile

Buy through my Bookshop page: Ancient Egypt Book List

If you have a child who wants to deep-dive into the mythology of Ancient Egypt, Roger Laycelyn Green’s Tales of Ancient Egypt is the gold standard.

Buy through my Amazon afflink: Tales of Ancient Egypt

Buy through my Bookshop page: Ancient Egypt Book List

The Best Classic Chapter Books to Read Aloud to the Littlest Listeners

Your children love picture books! Great job Mom!

You’ve started them on the path to a lifelong love of reading! Now for that tricky transition to chapter books. You’re longing to share The Hobbit, Narnia, and Anne of Green Gables with your five year old (or your three or four year old if he or she has a long attention span), but WAIT!

First chapter books are an important and memorable experience for your preschooler or kindergartener!

And believe me, the transition to chapter books will be much smoother if you begin with one of these delightful books written just for children listening to their first chapter books. These classic first chapter books have charming illustrations scattered throughout and short chapters the perfect length for a limited attention span.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small fee if you purchase a book through my link at no additional cost to you.

Milly-Molly-Mandy is a sweet little girl enjoying family and small town life in a multi-generational home. Nostalgic and innocent stories with lots and lots of illustrations!

Jenny is a fashion-loving little black cat who longs for some friends. In Jenny and the Cat Club, she meets a memorable group of beautiful and ragged felines. A book about making friends, finding your own talents, and appreciating others’ differences. There are several more books about Jenny’s adventures available!

Raggedy Ann‘s cheerful nature and simple adventures have delighted children for over 100 years! Always a hit with 4-5 year old girls!

Twig‘s impoverished family lives in a tenement house. But one memorable day, a tomato soup can, a dandelion, and her imagination bring the best kind of magic into her life. After that day, Twig sees her life and neighbors through new eyes.

This is a transformation through imagination story in the tradition of Nesbit and MacDonald, so I personally liked it. But if you are very sensitive to the use of “magic” in stories, you may want to avoid this one.

Of course every child needs to listen to The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh! This beautiful hardcover edition includes lots of full color illustrations to make this beloved first chapter book even more enjoyable.

The Thornton Burgess 26-Book Set brings you to the world of the little forest animals. Most chapters are only 2-4 pages. Not as many pictures as some of the other books on this list, but still held the attention of my 4 year old.

Happy Little Family focuses on Bonnie, the youngest in an Appalachian family. At 4 years old, Bonnie feels quite grown up and ready to participate in all the family fun. All 4 years old can relate to her little joys and disappointments.

Continue reading Bonnie’s adventures in Schoolhouse in the Woods. Bonnie starts school, learns to read, and makes friends.

If you’re looking for more stories for 4-6 year old listeners, I highly recommend diving deep into fairy tales and folk tales! Check out my list of Good Fairy Tales, Fables, and Tall Tales for Catholic Kids.

Saint Chapter Books Round Up

In my oft-searched list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners , I share some of my favorite saint books for little ones. Here, I’ll share my favorite chapter books about the saints for independent readers through middle schoolers.

For the 6-8 year old, just becoming independent reader stage, I love the Saints and Friendly Beasts saint book series.

In the Saints and Friendly Beasts series, young readers will enjoy the large print and wealth of pictures. At the same time, they’ll become familiar with saints who loved animals. Popular Holy Hour books with my 6 and 8 year olds. Note: the pictures in these books are all black and white.

Buy the series through my Amazon affiliate links: Saint Brigid and the Cows, Saint Martin de Porres and the Mice, Saint Germaine and the Sheep, Blessed Sebastian and the Oxen, and Saint Colum and the Crane.

Or, buy it from the publisher, Tan Books.

A recently published book that is awesome for this age is Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s Saints Around the World.

This is a saint book like no other! Meg Hunter Kilmer tells stories about many saints we’ve never heard of in a conversational style that makes these saints your kids’ new best friends. Check out my full Review of “Saints Around the World”!

Another series of saint books that’s wonderful for a 3rd grade reading level (or younger reader with help!) is the Life of a Saint series from Ignatius Press.

Learn about popular saints in these colorful, picture-rich books from reliable Ignatius Press.

Check out the biographies of St. John Mary Vianney, St. Bernadette, St. Francis, and St. Therese through my affiliate links.

Or buy them through the publisher: Ignatius Press

Another series of Saint Books I love but are hard to find are the Along the Path of the Gospel series.

If you can find any volumes in this series used online, snap them up! We love the beautiful pictures and simple text, perfect for 7-9 year olds!

You can find a few used on Amazon on my affiliate page: Along the Paths of the Gospel

Or Seton Press is still selling some new copies of select books: buy through Seton.

For the 8-14 year old crowd, especially reluctant readers, try getting their attention with The Saint Chronicles!

With 5 striking volumes now available, The Saint Chronicles is sure to be a hit with kids!

You can buy them through my Amazon affiliate page: The Saint Chronicles

Or support a Catholic Bookstore and buy them from Good News Book Shop:

For 9-12 year old readers, I recommend the Encounter the Saints series.

With 33 saints featured, this series will keep your kids reading for a long time! More information

These books are available as a set from Seton, you can buy through publisher Pauline Media, or you can buy through my Amazon affiliate page Encounter the Saints.

Mayr Fabyan Windeatt brings the saints to life for children aged 9-99.

These saint biographies are 50-100 pages and perfect for book reports or spiritual reading. My kids bring these to Holy Hour all the time. Not very many pictures, but simple and inspiring stories about a variety of saints from Hyacinth to Martin de Porres.

Buy them through my Amazon affiliate page: Mary Fabyan Windeatt Books.

Or, buy them as a set through Seton.

Or, buy them through a Catholic Bookshop: Good News Book Shop

A final awesome saint book series for the 9+ crowd is the Vision Series from Ignatius Press

Up to 24 books, the acclaimed Vision series offers inspiring saint biographies for 4th-8th graders. With longer chapters and more details, these books will satisfy kids who want to know more about their favorite saints- or maybe discover some new favorites!

Buy them through my Amazon affiliate link: Vision Saint Books

Or buy the whole set through Seton.

Or, buy them through a Catholic Bookshop: Good News Book Shop

photo of empty road in between grass field during golden hour

Favorite Audiobooks for Catholic Families

My kids are addicted to audiobooks on long car rides. I’ll take that over movies any day so I’m not trying to cure them.

But really, who else is always looking for that perfect audiobook that will entertain ALL the kids on the next roadtrip? Or even just the next trip to the grocery store if you live rural like we do!

I’ve spent more time than I’d like on Audible listening to samples and trying to figure out what’s the best quality and number of hours for the price. Here’s a list of some of my best finds: unabridged recordings with great narrators who bring the stories to life. These are the books my kids ask for again and again until they can recite them!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you buy through my link I receive a small fee at no additional cost to you.

The Chronicles of Narnia Adult Box Set

Who else wants to hear Kenneth Branagh read The Chronicles of Narnia? This unabridged version is pricey but if you have an audible account you can snag it for 1 credit- awesome deal!

Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

We have 5 Little House books on audiobook and they are some of the most requested recordings we own. The fiddle music to accompany these recordings fits perfectly.

Swallows and Amazons

Family adventures on a lake? Friendships, alliances of offense and defense, and buried treasure? Swallows and Amazons has it all. Charming British children’s classics.

The Hobbit

If your crew is slightly older, they’ll love The Hobbit read by no less than Gollum himself. A great performance by Andy Serkis.

All-of-a-Kind Family

We love the five joyful sisters’ escapades in All of a Kind Family. You get a perfect picture of life for a poor but happy Jewish family in early 21st century New York city. Thanks to this book, my kids understand Jewish holidays and traditions!

Thornton W. Burgess Box Set: The Adventures of Sammy Jay; The Burgess Bird Book for Children; The Burgess Animal Book for Children; & Old Granny Fox

Looking for many hours for 1 audible credit? Check out this collection: Thornton W Burgess Box Set. Educational and enjoyable.

Five for Victory: The Mitchells, Book 1

With their father away during World War II, the 5 Mitchell children pull together to help their mother on the Homefront. Their Five for Victory club brings them friends and helps the war effort. We love the sequel, Canadian Summer, even more. The Mitchell family moves to a remote Canadian ski cottage for the summer and adventure naturally follows.

Happy Little Family: Fairchild Family Story

The Happy Little Family books are often compared to Little House with their gentle lessons and anecdotes from family life. Warning that the narrator’s accent is fittingly Southern for these stories from Appalachia. So if you have a vendetta against a drawl skip this series!

The Cinnamon Bear: The Complete Series

The Cinnamon Bear is a classic oldschool radio drama with music and a full cast. I listened to it over and over growing up, and now my kids ask to hear it even out of season; it’s a Christmas drama. Brother and sister Judy and Jimmy have their star stolen by a crazy-quilt dragon. A tiny cinnamon bear comes to life and helps them travel through Maybe-land to rescue it from a wicked witch.

Fairytale Favorites: In Story and Song

My younger kids love all the Jim Weiss retellings they’ve heard. Fairytale Favorites includes the Elves and the Shoemaker, Stone Soup, Rapunzel, and more. He includes memorable songs and sometimes poetry in these retellings. Also, it’s less than $3 to buy. Sweet.

person with toy airplane on world map

Around Europe in 20 Chapter Books

Europe map with chapter book covers

Tour Europe Through Living Books!

These 20 Classic Chapter books set in Europe capture the culture and flavor of life in a variety of European countries. Since most of us can’t travel the world right now in person, entering these countries through our imagination may be the next best option. Here’s my picks for a literary tour of Europe this summer!

Ireland

Visit the Emerald Isle and experience everyday life in The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilda Van Stockum.

Amazon affiliate link: The Cottage at Bantry Bay

England

In The Secret Garden, experience England for the first time through the eyes of Mary Lennox, a sickly child from India. Discover the magic of an English country garden and the moors.

Amazon affiliate link: The Secret Garden

England (Lake Country)

Join the Swallows and Amazons on their summer holidays in England’s beautiful lake country. Capture the flag, camp on a deserted island, and find some treasure in this classic.

Amazon afflink: Swallows and Amazons

Scotland

From the shores of Scotland to early America and back, this sweeping story of the Catholic persecution in Scotland includes realistic Scotch dialect and plenty of castles.

Amazon afflink: Outlaws of Ravenhurst

Sweden

Come join The Children of Noisy Village in life in a tiny Swedish village. Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking fame brings Sweden to life in this charming chapter book.

Amazon affiliate link: The Children of Noisy Village

Norway

Our part-Norwegian family love Snow Treasure: a true story of brave Norwegian children who smuggled their country’s treasure away from the Nazis on sleds.

Amazon affiliate link: Snow Treasure

Netherlands

In this sadly hard to find Newberry Medal winner, a group of Dutch schoolchildren bring their community together as they work to bring back the storks.

Amazon affiliate link: The Wheel on the School

Netherlands

Learn about windmills and the Dutch resistance in The Winged Watchman.

Amazon Affiliate link: The Winged Watchman

Denmark

In Number the Stars, a young Danish girl and her family embody the heroism of the Danish people who helped save almost all the Jewish citizens of their country during World War II.

Amazon affiliate link: Number the Stars

Poland

Enter the adventures and intrigues of medieval Poland with Josef in The Trumpeter of Krakow.

Amazon affiliate link: The Trumpeter of Krakow

Germany

The Grimm Brothers traveled through the Black Forest collecting the tales that are at the essence of the German soul.

Amazon affiliate link: Fairy Tales

France (Paris)

A homeless man meets three homeless children who take shelter under “his” bridge. An unlikely family emerges.

Amazon affiliate link: The Family Under the Bridge

France (Rural)

Twenty Catholic children living in the French mountains help save ten Jewish refugee children.

Amazon affiliate link: Twenty and Ten

Hungary

The Good Master takes you right into the heart of Hungary with a fantastic description of farm life, the countryside, the celebrations, and folk tale retellings.

Amazon Affiliate link: The Good Master

Switzerland

Everyone has to read Heidi, of course!

Amazon affiliate link: Heidi

Switzerland/Alps

This fantastic book about a boy determined to scale a mountain to fulfill his father’s dream brings the Alps to life in all their majesty and danger.

Amazon affiliate link: Banner in the Sky

Austria

Come visit the White Stallion of Lipizza at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Amazon affiliate link: White Stallion of Lipizza

Italy (Northern)

A boy and his donkey work to save the local monastery and an American soldier during World War II.

Amazon affiliate link: The Small War of Sergeant Donkey

Italy (Southern)

Everyone is terrified of a cursed grotto; everyone but the mysterious strangers who are determined to uncover its secrets. A story of the discovery of the famed blue grotto of Capri.

Amazon affiliate link: Red Sails to Capri

Greece

Travel back to the days of Greek heroes with Padraic Colum in the iconic Golden Fleece.

Amazon affiliate link: The Golden Fleece: And the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles

Enjoyed this visit to Europe in chapter books? Check out more great books for Catholic kids on My Book lists!

duckling on black soil during daytime

The Best Farm Animal Picture Books

In the last month, we’ve added three dwarf goats, two giant dogs, and nine loud ducklings to our farm. Farm animals are so funny and heartwarming; it’s little wonder that so many children’s classics feature these furry and feathery friends. I thought in honor of all our new animal friends, I’d share some of our favorite farm animal picture books.

These picture books about farm animals combine beautiful illustrations with stories old and new. Enjoy fables and folk tales, funny stories, and classics favorites all about our favorite fuzzy and feathery farm friends.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This simply means that I receive a small payment for purchases through my affiliate links at no additional cost to you.

Love Garth Williams classic Little House on the Prairie illustrations? Check out Baby Farm Animals for his adorable versions of baby farm animals.

In Charlie the Ranch Dog, meet lovable farm dog Charlie, his friend Susie, the troublesome cattle, and the sneaky chipmunk. There are several equally fun sequels about ranch life, like Charlie and the New Baby in which Charlie and his family rescue a lost calf and reunite it with its mother.

Text from Margaret Wise Brown, and illustrations by award-winning Jerry Pinkney: what could be better? A Home in the Barn follows the coming of winter and all the animals large and small who find shelter in a barn.

Kids love the simple rhythmic text of the Little Blue Truck books. In the original, Little Blue picks up all the farm animals and even does a grumpy passerby a good turn. A celebration of teamwork.

Five o’clock Charlie may be old, but he doesn’t want to just sit in a field all day. He feels useless until one day he finds a new job and new friends at a nearby inn.

Based on the author’s life on an English sheep farm, Days on the Farm is a collection of short stories that capture sheep farm life. Gorgeous watercolor illustrations we just love.

In Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm, you’ll meet Tractor Mac, Sibley the Horse, Pete and Paul the Pigs, and all the animals on Stony Meadow Farm. One of our favorite farm series, we particularly enjoy the detailed diagrams of farm equipment at beginning and end of each book.

Farm Morning is a simple but lovely story about a father and daughter’s morning routine on their farm.

This is unquestionably a farm animal favorite at our house. Alice and Martin Provenson describe all Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm in a humorous and memorable fashion.

Lois Lenski’s The Little Farm is an adorable board book about Farmer Small and his day on the farm.

Paul Galdone’s memorable illustrations recapture the charm of classic farm animal folk tales like The Little Red Hen and The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

My favorite version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff is Jerry Pinkney’s Caldecott version. The troll in this one is a wee bit scary for very littles though!

If you love Margaret Wise Brown’s well-known Good Night Moon, you’ll also love Big Red Barn, her gentle farm animal story.

You probably know I adore James Herriot’s stories for adults. James Herriot’s Treasury for Children takes some of his gentlest tales and pairs them with lovely illustrations to keep children’s interest. These stories are longer, so best for a child with a good attention span.

Sensitive child warning: in the Christmas story, the mama cat does die in the beginning of the story, though there is a happy ending.

These cute woolies get into all sorts of mischief in Sheep Take a Hike and Sheep in a Jeep. We enjoy the fun frolics and rhythmic text.

Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg are sure to make you and your child laugh. Clyde wants a bath, Dawg sure doesn’t. This is a fun and funny read aloud.

The littlest listeners love the idea of a farmful of animals getting a ride in a dump tuck! The Happy Man and His Dump Truck is one of those good old classic Little Golden Books.

What happens when one boy brings his pet boa constrictor on a field trip to a farm? Find out in The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash.

To find more great book recommendations, check out My Book Lists!

red flower near white flower during daytime

Review of “The Good Master”

The Good Master

Although only time will tell what books of the last century last through the centuries as true classics, I’ll venture to predict Kate Seredy’s The Good Master and The Singing Tree will be on that short list. Hungarian born Kate Seredy was a brilliant children’s author who lived from 1899-1975. She wrote prolifically and was also a talented artist who illustrated her own books. My favorite books by Seredy are the The Good Master and its sequel. Both books were Newberry Honor books and much lauded. Best of all, these books tell an engaging story: a story about two cousins and a farm and a war and a lost way of life. They’re a window that gives a glimpse into the early twentieth century your family will never forget.

These books are living history at its best!

The Good Master tells a simple story of Hungarian farm life in the early twentieth century. Jansci’s father is a successful farmer known far and wide as “The Good Master” for his gentle but firm way with animals and children. When Jansci’s difficult city cousin Kate comes to visit, the peaceful farm life is thoroughly shaken up. But in the end, the magic of animals, country life, and never ending family love cure Kate of her willfulness. Mostly. This first book showcases the simple beauty of country life and the Hungarian traditions throughout the year.

In sharp contrast, The Singing Tree begins with the advent of The Great War: World War I. Jansci and Kate are barely in their teens, but suddenly having to take charge of the farm as Jansci’s father must leave for war. In this sequel, Seredy draws a poignant picture of the challenges the impoverished Hungarian farmers and peasants faced, their confusion about the war, and how they survived by helping one another. This book, though sad, is even more beautiful than The Good Master. If you’re studying the early twentieth century or World War I, The Singing Tree is a must-read.

Anything parents should be aware of?

No violence, sexual content, language, and so on. These books are squeaky clean and beautifully written! There is some dramatic tension in the second book about whether Jansci’s father will come home. Other soldiers from their village die in the war. There are orphans and homeless who shelter on Jansci’s farm. Undeniably, the Singing Tree is a very sad book at times. But it’s also a story of strength and courage and heroic charity. I recommend reading these books in the middle grades, around age 10-12. But like true classics, they’re very enjoyable read aloud as a family also!

You can buy The Good Master through my Amazon affiliate link: The Good Master and The Singing Tree.

For more great books for Middle Grade kids, check out My Book Lists, especially:

mount rushmore

American Revolutionary War Chapter Books for Catholic Kids

Living History Books blend fiction and historical events in a unique way that captures kids’ interest. The chapter books on this list are a great springboard for getting your kids interested in learning more about the American Revolutionary War and the great men who helped found our country!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This simply means that I will receive a small fee if you buy through my link at no additional cost to you.

Ben and Me American Revolutionary War

Ben and Me is a unique biography of Benjamin Franklin, cleverly written by his trusty sidekick Amos the Mouse. This book is hilarious, memorable, and easy to read. Perfect for 8-10 year olds.

Mr. Revere and I
American Revolutionary War Chapter book

Scheherazade the chesnut Mare used to belong to a cruel British officer. When she begins a new life with Paul Revere she ends up playing a pivotal role in helping the American patriots when Paul makes his famous ride to sound the alarm. After your children read Mr. Revere and I, your whole family can enjoy reading Longfellow’s fantastic poem Paul Revere’s Ride aloud.

On the other side of the Atlantic, George III of England seemingly inexplicable treatment of the American colonists gets a fresh look in Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? Newberry Winning author Jean Fritz draws on amusing anecdotes of King George’s childhood to help children understand this man who drove a country to revolt.

10 year old Ellen bravely takes her ailing grandfather’s place in a dangerous spy mission to help the American patriots in Toliver’s Secret. A thrilling story of a shy girl’s courage and patriotism.

The Childhood of Famous Americans series has over 50 volumes that teach history through engagingly writing about the childhood and young adulthood of famous Americans. For a Revolutionary War character study, I recommend their biographies of George Washington, Martha Washington, and Benjamin Franklin.

The Reb and the Redcoats follows the American Revolution from the perspective of a British family. When they are forced to house an American POW, it changes everyone’s perspective. A thought-provoking book that gives “both sides” of the story.

The Minute Boys of Lexington and The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill are by the author of The Hardy Boys! These old classics bring alive the story of the Minute Men and several famous American Revolutionary War battles.

Guns for General Washington retells the story of a courageous 19 year old who transported 183 guns across a state to help General Washington win an important battle in Boston.

In True to the Old Flag, prolific historical fiction writer G. A. Henty focuses on a young British soldier’s experiences fighting in America and Canada during World War II. I found this book gave a fascinating and often unheard perspective, focusing on the Loyalist American arguments and the British cooperation with the Native Americans. 10+

Johnny Tremain is a young silversmith who tragically injures his hand, ending his budding career. But soon, he finds himself working for the Patriot newspapers and being drawn into the fight for independence. 10+

A centuries old feud and some friendly ghosts lead orphaned Peggy on a journey back in time to interact with her American Revolutionary War ancestors. A touch of mystery, a touch of Romance, and a lot of masterful historical fiction make The Sherwood Ring a favorite of mine. 12+

Looking for more living history chapter books? Check out my list of World War II Chapter Books or my other books lists: