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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

black horse running on grass field with flowers

The Best Picture Books for Little Horse Lovers

Do you have a little one who loves, loves, loves horses? I was that child, and to this day I love horses. Here are my favorite picture books old and new which capture the beauty and spirit of this special animal.

One of Jan Brett’s lesser known books, but still a charming story with lovely illustrations. Fritz is a short, ugly pony that the people say is unworthy to carry the children. But when the beautiful horses shy away in a crisis, Fritz is there for the children.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Fritz and the Beautiful Horses

Buy it through my BookShop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

The Perfect Pony is another pony story about looks being less important than a sweet nature. Katie dreams of a beautiful, prancing horse, but finds that her wise mother is right that the perfect pony may be different than she imagined.

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Who doesn’t love Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague? In Five O’Clock Charlie, Marguerite Henry tells a memorable story about a winsome old draft horse named Charlie. Love the Wesley Dennis illustrations.

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Buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

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This gorgeous Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson story makes a gentle bedtime story about mother love.

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This touching historical fiction story set in 1843 tells about little Gretchen, separated from her wagon train, and The White Stallion who saved her life.

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Two sisters remember their mother telling them that the Carousel horses waking to life in early spring. They go on an imaginative journey which brings them healing after the death of their mother (trigger warning: mother has died). Gorgeously illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Carousel

Once upon a time, there was a boy who “loved horses more than anything else in the world”… The Billy and Blaze series are classic adventures about a boy and his pony. A little lengthier than other picture books, these are also great for young readers.

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In this Caldecott Winning story, a Native American girl cares for her tribe’s horses and eventually becomes a horse herself.

Amazon affiliate link: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

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A sleepy child learns from her grandmother how to visualize imaginary Sleep Ponies carrying her away to sweet dreams.

Amazon affiliate link: The Sleep Ponies

A little girl longs for a horse more than anything, but her parents carefully explain why buying one isn’t possible. Instead, she uses her imagination and drawings to fly through the stars with her dream pony.

Amazon affiliate link: My Pony

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Cowboy Small and his pony Cactus explain to little cowpokes how to take good care of a pony and what a cowboy does every day.

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Alice and Martin Provensen’s whimsical story about their farm animal perfectly captures the memorable personalities of their herd of horses. This has been one of my favorite books for 25 years.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

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Virginia Lee Burton of Mike Mulligan fame wrote and illustrated this hilarious story about Calico the Wonder Horse. Calico not only outsmarts a band of ornery bad men but convinces them to reform.

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For more of my favorite picture books for children, check out my Book Lists!

aerial photography of snow covered trees

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.

stopping by woods on a snowy evening

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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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Review of “The Spider Who Saved Christmas”

the spider who saved christmas cover

An Eastern European Christmas Legend

In The Spider Who Saved Christmas, Raymond Arroyo brings a popular Eastern European Christmas legend to life. This gorgeous book tells the story of the Golden Orb Weaver spider who protected the Christ child.

An Unusual Christmas Ornament

In Poland and Ukraine, spider ornaments are commonly placed on Christmas trees. According to a legend little-known in America, a spider made a web to camouflage the cave where the Holy Family hid while fleeing Herod’ slaughter of the innocents. While the Holy Family slept, the spider spun a web across the opening of the cave which saved the Christ child’s life.

Beautiful Illustrations for a Beautiful Story

My favorite part of this book is Rand Gallegos’ luminous illustrations! The light seems to emanate from the Christ Child’s peaceful face in a way that fascinated my children and charmed me. To scroll through a full preview of these amazing pictures, check out the sales page from publisher Sophia Press.

Not for the Littlest Ones

This is a beautiful and unique Christmas picture book which older kids will enjoy, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the littlest children. My 3 year old (who’s a bit sensitive) was upset by the references to Herod slaughtering the innocent baby boys. The actual slaughtering isn’t described, of course, but there are descriptions of the wails and shrieks of dying babies, which may be upsetting to very young or sensitive children.

Great Present for 5-7 year olds

This beautiful book makes a great St. Nicholas Day or Christmas present for Catholic children 5+. Even your non-Catholic friends will enjoy this unique Christmas legend! We’ll be adding it to our Christmas book basket books this Advent.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Spider Who Saved Christmas

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Spider Who Saved Christmas” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Review of “Where is Jesus Hidden?”

Where is Jesus Hidden cover

Where is Jesus Hidden?

Do you have a little one who asks why they can’t see Jesus? This innovative book from talented author Maura Roan McKeegan helps children learn to “see” Jesus in their daily lives. Using clues from Bible, your child will search each picture of everyday life to find Jesus.

So, where is Jesus hidden?

In the words of the Bible, in Mary’s womb, in the sick, in those in need, in children’s hearts, in the Eucharist. In Where is Jesus Hidden, children become familiar with simple Bible verses about Jesus’ life and teaching. Each verse is accompanied by a full page illustration with a real-life scene for children to search for Jesus. The solution follows on the next page. My 3 and 6 year olds immediately grasped the concept and loved “finding” Jesu son each page!

Great for the 2-5 year old crowd

Where is Jesus Hidden? makes using the eyes of the heart to notice Jesus in our daily life a fun game for preschoolers. Little children will internalize the important practice of thinking about God throughout their day: a valuable spiritual tool for their future. This book would make an affordable Christmas, Easter, or Baptismal anniversary gift.

Buy Where is Jesus Hidden? through my Amazon affiliate link: Where Is Jesus Hidden?

Or buy it from the publisher Emmaus Road Publishing.

Also check out this favorite of mine, also by Maura McKeegan: Review of “St. Conrad and the Wildfire”!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Where is Jesus Hidden?” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

brown christmas ceramic figurines

Review of “The Grumpy Old Ox”

The Grumpy Old Ox book cover

Just in time for Christmas shopping, here’s an original new Christmas story from Anthony DeStefano and Sophia Institute Press. In The Grumpy Old Ox, a blind and curmudgeonly ox lives with an equally crabby innkeeper in Bethlehem. When the innkeeper grudgingly allows a man and his pregnant wife to sleep in his stable, the ox encounters the miracle of Christ’s birth. His life will never be the same.

A Unique Theme

The Grumpy Old Ox is a simple rhythmic story on the surface, but as is typical for DeStefano’s books, there’s a profound theme lurking beneath the surface. The grumpy ox’s blindness is a physical symbol of his spiritual pride and selfishness: a form of spiritual blindness. When the ox opens his soul to welcome the Christ Child with simple gifts, his spiritual and physical blindness are healed. With this story for children, DeStefano foreshadows the many examples in Jesus’ life where pride and blindness intersect to prevent people from recognizing him as the Messiah. But in this hopeful story, the grumpy ox has a change of heart and is healed.

One for the Christmas Basket

If you’re like me, you love collecting special books for the Advent and Christmas Season. I wrap all our Christmas books into bundles and my children take turns opening one a day until Christmas. I’m excited to add this new book to our basket this Advent. I know my kids will love the bright illustrations and rhythmic story!

Buy The Grumpy Old Ox through my Amazon Affiliate link: The Grumpy Old Ox.

Wondering what other books are in our Christmas basket this year? Check out my Christmas Picture Book List!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Grumpy Old Ox from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Review of “Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children”

They say never judge a book by its cover, but…

As soon as I saw the luminous cover of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children I knew I was going to love this book!

Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, book cover

This book fills an important need for a young child oriented Marian Consecration.

My family had recently completed a more traditional adult-oriented Marian Consecration and I was feeling let down. While it was a moving experience for me, I felt like most of the teaching went right over my little kiddos heads. In fact, there was a lot of wiggling and complaining from my littles.

So when Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children arrived in the mail, I knew I needed to try again with my littles with this brand-new child-centric consecration. And sure enough, I found Colleen Pressprich’s book makes a Consecration with young children doable and even enjoyable!

Gorgeous artwork and simple guidance make this book perfect for use with little children.

First, you and your children take in the sublime artwork for each day. I loved how talented illustrator Rebecca Gorzynska chose to portray Mary in a diverse variety of ethnicities! My kids are obsessed with the beautiful images of Mary, and I am thrilled that they are experiencing the many ways Mary is envisioned around the world.

Then, you read a short paragraph about Mary and Marian devotion. Finally, Colleen provides conversation starters: simple questions to inspire your children to think about Mary and engage in discussion. For example:

Have you done any tracing? Was it easier or harder for you to draw a picture of the thing you traced?

What do you think it means for God to trace Mary’s love in our hearts?

Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children

It’s only 5 Minutes a Day, and even the littlest children can benefit!

Colleen Pressprich’s evident devotion to Mary and experience as a mother brings an authentic spirituality and natural flow to this guide to consecration for young children. When I say “young children” you may be wondering how young? I think children as young as 2 will benefit from completing this consecration. My 3-7 year olds are all enjoying it. This book will certainly help your little ones draw closer to Mary as a mother, queen, and guide.

Do you have 5 extra minutes a day and young children at home? Then this is the perfect addition to your day!

To buy Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children through my affiliate link, click here: Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children!

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

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

To check out Colleen Pressprich’s blog and preview more of the gorgeous artwork, go here: Elevator to Heaven.

To see my favorite Catholic books for young children, check out my book list: Good Catholic Books for Young Children.

For a Marian Consecration for children over the age of 7 check out my Review of “Family Consecration to Jesus Through Mary”.

Review of “God the Father and the Best Day Ever”

God the Father and the Best Day Ever is a brand-new approach to introducing little ones to salvation and God the Father. Gracie Jagla offers a fresh perspective about Salvation to little ones with this book that focuses especially on God the Father’s love for us, his children.

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

Most salvation books for younger children focus on the second person in the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, and the details of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. God the Father and the Best Day Ever looks at salvation from God the Father’s perspective. This book draws children to reflect on the Father’s love for his children, his sorrow at their exile from heaven, and his joy when the gates of heaven opened.

The simple, rhythmic text tells the salvation story in a way that young children will understand and enjoy:

You’ve heard Easter’s story,
You know how it goes:
Christ died for our sins
And on Easter, he rose.

But there’s more to the story
That you might not know.
What happened above when God
Triumphed below?

As far as the illustrations, I’ll admit I’ve more of a preference for classical and realistic art, so the more contemporary style pictures in this book aren’t my favorite. But kids who like cartoons will probably be engaged by these lively and engaging modern pictures.

Overall, I appreciated this picture book’s unique focus on God the Father. It’s worth checking out and considering if you have 3-7 year old children!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “God the Father and the Best Day Ever” in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out my favorite Catholic books for preschoolers and kindergartners here!

Review of “The Day-by-Day Coloring Book of Saints”

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It never ceases to amaze me what riches Catholic authors and publishers are creating to enrich our liturgical year! Author Anna Maria Mendell and illustrator Mary MacArthur recently teamed up with Sophia Institute Press to produce a truly wonderful resource. The Day-by-Day Coloring Book of Saints invites you to delve deep into the feast of inspiration that our Catholic Church offers through the liturgical year. Celebrate heroic men and women of faith every day this year as you create beauty with this coloring book!

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Day-by-Day Coloring Book of Saints Volume 1 covers January-June, and Volume 2 spans the rest of the year from July-December. Each day your child can read a one page biography of the saint complete with memorable anecdotes. And, of course, there’s a beautiful coloring page for your child. By the end of the year, your child will have learned a ton about a range of saints, ancient to modern, and created a uniquely illustrated book they can keep!

Yes, you can find coloring pages for some of these saints online these days. But you really can’t match the convenience of these coloring books! You have all the saints for the year, details about their life, and all in one place. These books make liturgical living easy!

I’m planning on using these coloring books as part of my religion program for my 1st grader, who will love coloring the pictures as I read to her about the saints. A 3rd grader or older could read the biographies independently and color as part of a personal prayer time. These coloring books would be a great addition to a religion program, a morning time basket, or family prayer time!

Coloring Contest Day by Day Coloring Book of Saints

Interested in getting The Day-By-Day Coloring Book of Saints free? Until August 8th, Sophia Institute Press is holding a Coloring Contest with prizes being copies of this coloring book set!

The Rules are simple:

1. Follow Sophia Institute Press and The Catholic Company on your favorite social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter).

2. Print out the coloring page and color it in: SophiaInstitute.com/ColoringPage

3. Post a photo of the colored page on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag Sophia.

4. Open to US residents only.

Day-by-Day Coloring Book of Saints Set book cover

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Day-by-Day Coloring Book of Saints” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

For more great resources for Catholic kids check out my book lists!