Review of “Discover the Brothers”

Introduce your children to a plethora of religious orders with Jake Thibault’s unique new books: Discover the Brothers and It’s Fun to be a Nun.

Do you know how many religious orders there are? Actually, I don’t either! But I learned about many I have never heard of in these colorful and engaging new books. On each page, there’s a detailed drawing of a Religious Brother (or Sister in the companion book) carrying out the particular charism of his order. Some brothers are serving the poor, others teaching, others praying, singing, even cooking! Each page also has the charism or motto of the order written out for you.

In the tradition of religious brothers having a special devotion to Our Lady, each page also contains a Marian image. Play I-Spy with a younger kid, or have an older kid try to remember all the different titles of Our Lady as you page through Discover the Brothers.

Also check out the sister book (haha, get it, Sister book?) about nuns: It’s Fun to be a Nun. You’ll learn about many orders of Sisters and their missions and charisms.

Carthusian? Dominican? Trappist? Franciscan?

As someone who never learned to identify religious orders by their habits, I’m hoping these books will help my kids and I become more knowledgeable about the differences between orders. I’m envisioning this turning into a Catholic card game: name the religious habit and charism!

(Note that both books focus primarily on traditional orders with religious habits but there is one to two orders featured, out of 30 plus in each book, that do not have a habit.)

I really like the idea of giving my kids more exposure to religious orders. These books seem like a great place to start! They reminded me of what a wealth of different orders are out there- one to fit any person drawn to a religious vocation.

You can buy both books through my affiliate links: Discover the Brothers and It’s Fun to be a Nun.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Discover the Brothers’ and “It’s Fun to be a Nun” from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Find more of my favorite Catholic picture books on my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners .

selective focus photography of gray donkey eating grass

Review of “Joseph’s Donkey”

In the spirit of the Year of St. Joseph, here’s a new Christmas story for your family about Joseph’s Donkey.

joseph's donkey cover image

From the author and illustrator that brought us the beautiful and bestselling Our Lady’s Wardrobe and Our Lady’s Picture Book, here’s a brand new book to put under your Christmas tree this year!

Joseph’s Donkey is a gorgeously illustrated story about the gentle earthly father of Jesus and his equally quiet and noble helper. See the events of the Holy Family’s journey to Bethlehem, the Christ Child’s childhood, Egypt and back again, and the quiet years at Nazareth through the eyes of this gentle donkey.

Little children will love the detailed depictions of the Holy Family’s life and affection for one another.

The gentle, rhythmic poem captures the spirit of these years of peace and harmony. Sometimes we forget the decades of silence before Jesus began his public ministry!

Animal loving children will also love the pictures of a young Jesus with his donkey.

Death and New Life

The story concludes with the death of the donkey at an advanced age. I’ve noticed a theme in Anthony DeStefano’s books: he wants children to experience death as an opening of the eyes to a richer, brighter new life. Like the Seed in The Seed Who was Afraid to Be Planted, Joseph’s donkey falls asleep to wake to a more beautiful world than he had ever imagined.

If you love St. Joseph, you’ll enjoy this lovely and luminous book!

Find it for sale through my Amazon affiliate link: Joseph’s Donkey

Or find it on my Christmas Picture Book list at Bookshop!

To see more of my favorite Christmas picture books, check out my complete list:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Joseph’s Donkey” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

“The Night the Saints Saved Christmas” Review

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What if Saint Nicholas got sick on Christmas Eve?

In this fanciful new Christmas story, author Gracie Jagla comes up with an imaginative solution. All the saints of heaven work together to save Christmas by delivering gifts to their homelands! From Saint Joan of Arc on her horse to Saint John Paul II on his skis, each saint finds a way to bring gifts to their country’s children.

The Nights the Saints Saved Christmas is a beautifully illustrated celebration of the Communion of Saints and the true meaning of Christmas.

Your little ones will learn a bit about some great Saints in this gently rhyming story. Short text and detailed illustrations combine to make this the perfect Christmas story for the 2-6 year old crowd!

Parents will appreciate the focus on giving versus receiving. There’s also a tie in to the true meaning of Christmas being adoring the Christ Child versus the presents.

Who is Santa Claus?

I loved how The Night the Saints Saved Christmas affirms Sant Claus’s sainthood! As you may know, “Santa Claus” comes from the Dutch for St. Nicholas. This book acknowledges the popular western custom of attributing Christmas gifts to St. Nicholas without undermining the true meaning of Christmas.

Whether you “do” Santa Claus or not, your kids will enjoy this whimsical story about the saints working together to help the children of earth. See if you can spot some of your favorite saints; my kids were excited to see Pier Giorgio Frassati and the Fatima children!

You can buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link: The Night the Saints Saved Christmas

Or buy it through my Bookshop page: Christmas Books for Catholic Kids

To see more of my favorite Christmas books, check out my list of Favorite Christmas Picture Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Night the Saints Saved Christmas” from Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

“The Beggar and the Bluebird” Review

Releasing This Week!

I was super excited to get an advance look at Anthony DeStefano’s newest book, The Beggar and the Bluebird. This new book for Christmas 2021 is a truly beautiful story about sacrifice, charity, and the true meaning of gift giving.

Did you know that bluebirds traditionally have symbolized beauty, joy, and messages from God? In this story, a bluebird is about to fly south for the winter when a ragged beggar asks for help delivering a gift. The bluebird finds itself helping the poorest of the poor, the sick, and the hopeless.

The little bluebird literally gives until it hurts! It ends up dying in the snow from cold and weariness. Then, a miracle occurs, and the bluebird finds itself the one receiving a wonderful gift.

A Christmas Fairy Tale

The Beggar and the Bluebird is a fairy tale which pushes the reader to look beneath the surface, to see beyond the beggar’s rags. It’s a story about the true meaning of Christmas: to give not to get. Hopefully, children will be moved to think about Christmas giving in a more other-focused way.

Trust God

It’s also a story about trusting in God’s plans. The bluebird judges that it needs to fly south right away for its own protection. But when it opens itself up to helping others, allows a heavenly plan to unfold, it finds more happiness than it imagined possible. In many ways, this story’s themes reminded me of another DeStefano story I loved, The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted.

Another book for the Christmas Collection

This latest Anthony DeStefano book definitely deserves a place in your Christmas book collection!

You can buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Beggar and Bluebird

Or you can buy it through my BookShop page: Christmas Book List

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

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 

“The Christmas Light” Review

the christmas light book cover

“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

John 1:9

One icy cold night, an innkeeper’s daughter awakens angry at her discomfort and poverty. But then, she remembers someone who must be even colder than she is: a tiny newborn baby in the family stable. Moved by pity for the young family in the drafty stable, the girl decides to bring them light to make a fire. But when she meets the infant Jesus, her own heart fills with fire and her life is changed forever.

A Wonderful Picture Book for the Family Collection

This lovely new Christmas story would make a perfect edition to your family Christmas Book Collection! I loved the evocative descriptions of the textures, sounds, and feelings the girl experiences. Author Claudia Cangilla McAdam really brings a cold night in Bethlehem to life for readers. I also loved the light symbolism throughout.

The best part of the story is the transformation from anger to joy that the young girl experiences after encountering the Christ Child. This book illustrates that when we reach out to help others, we find unexpected happiness ourselves. In serving a stranger, the girl unknowingly serves Christ. This is a powerful message that will stick in children’s minds long after they’re grown up.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”

Psalm 30:11

Releasing for Christmas 2021

This book is available to order in time for Christmas 2021. It looks perfect for a St. Nicholas Day gift or Christmas present. I’ll be wrapping my copy to surprise my kids in our annual Christmas Book Advent Calendar tradition! They unwrap a book a day until Christmas. Some our old favorites and others are new surprises. Stay tuned over the next month as I check out some of the other exciting new Christmas books Catholic publishers are releasing this year!

You can see a full preview of “The Christmas Light” on the publisher website: Sophia Institute Press.

You can buy “The Christmas Light” through my Amazon affiliate link: The Christmas Light

Or you can buy it through my Bookshop Page: Christmas Books

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

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

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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.

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Review of “Jesus Had A Body Like Me”

"jesus had a body like me: a theology of the body for babies and little ones" book cover

“A Theology of the Body for Babies and Little Ones”

If you love John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, this little book is a great introduction for the very littlest Catholic kids. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will enjoy the simple text that teaches important concepts about personhood in very few sentences. Little ones will hear: who made them, what their bodies are for, how they are like Jesus, and what the ultimate end of life is. These concepts form the basis for an understanding of authentic Christian Humanism. It’s great to find them in such a simple form for the littlest listeners.

In addition to awesome Theology of the Body concepts, your child can enjoy playing “I Spy” for the Lily of the Valley hidden on each page. The Lily of the Valley is a traditional Marian symbol.

Author Caroline Fisher tells me that she has a second Theology of the Body-inspired book for slightly older kids (5-8 year old crowd) with more realistic pictures coming out soon. I’m super excited to see what she creates! Keep up the good work Caroline!

A percentage of all sales for this book are donated to the Sisters of Life.

Buy it through my amazon affiliate link: Jesus Had a Body Like Me: A Theology of the Body for Babies and Little Ones

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Jesus Had a Body Like Me: A Theology of the Body for Babies and Little Ones” from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

For more of my favorite books for little Catholic kids, check out my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners .

For more of my favorite Theology of the Body resources check out: Great Books about Sexual Education and Theology of the Body for Catholic Parents