Raise your coffee mug if you have a kid who loves Legos! My bunch sure do, so when I first happened across Kevin and Mary O’Neill’s Building Blocks of Faith Series I knew I had struck gold. These innovative books combine detailed Lego scenes with rock solid Catholic catechism lessons in a way that both educates and entertains today’s kids. The latest additions to the series is a trio of “Pocket Guides.”
It’s hard to pick! My kids enjoy them all!
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The Catechism of the Seven Sacraments is an old favorite at our house; you’ve probably already seen or bought it. In this first groundbreaking Building Blocks book, kids learn about the seven Sacraments and their Biblical roots.
In the second full-length volume of Building Blocks of Faith, kids join guides Fulton and Cynthia on an in-depth exploration of the Mass. The Holy Mass: On Earth as it is in Heavenexplores Old Testament typology, the significance of the prayers and elements of the Mass, transubstantiation, how Mary is the New Eve, what the priest’s vestments represent, and so much more! This book is chock-full of rock solid catechesis that gives your kids a sturdy foundation for building their Catholic faith.
Sophia Press recently published updated versions of a trio of “Pocket Guides” in the Building Blocks of Faith Series. These short books are great for kids who might be intimidated by the hefty full length volumes or are looking for a fun way to pray a particular devotion. A Pocket Guide to Sacramental Reconciliation helps kids prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and includes an examination of conscience. A Pocket Guide to the Holy Rosary has a picture for each decade to guide kids as they pray. A Pocket Guide to the Stations of the Cross is particularly exciting to see at this time of year: Lent. What a great incentive for kids to get excited about the Stations!
Any of the Building Block of Faith series makes a great Easter basket gift!
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 Wonderlandand 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
Here’s a saint book modern teens can relate too: one about teens like them! Stories of 8 teenage saints from around the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.