white and brown animals near fence

Homesteading Picture Books

In 2019 our family made the big decision to leave military life and settle down to live in our homestate and start a small homesteading style farm. The last year and a half have been a whirlwind of planting, building, and learning. Many sheep, goats, ducks, dogs, and cats later, we’re thriving and so is the farm! Part of the joy of farm life for me has been discovering new (mostly old actually) homesteading picture books that capture the joy of farm life. Here are some of the homesteading picture books that we’ve grown to love this last year!

Homeplace is a wonderful exploration of a 6 generation farmstead. Each spread describes and pictures how the farm changed as each generation added on to the tiny log cabin and expanded farming operations.

Ox-Cart Man features pictures by the marvelous Barbara Cooney. This story follows a homestead family through the year as they grow and prepare products for the yearly market visit.

Yonder is a moving multi-generational story about a family who begins a homestead on a mountain. They plant a single tree in their orchard to begin, and add another for each birth, death, and important family event. Watch their orchard grow with the family as the circle of life continues.

In Apple Tree Christmas, a family lives above the farm animals in the barn. Poor but happy, the children take delight in the ancient apple tree- until one day a storm blows it down. Can their parents save Christmas?

Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm was the book that made me want a homestead complete with all the animals when I was about 5 years old. Alice and Martin Provensen charmingly describe their array of animal friends with all their unique personalities and quirks.

Also check out The Year At Maple Hill Farm which takes you through each month of the year on the farm and the work that happens as the seasons change.

Head across the Pacific Ocean to a New Zealand farm with Days on the Farm. Author Kim Lewis lovingly paints and narrates simple stories about farm animals and children.

Have a child who doesn’t have the attention span for Little House on the Prairie yet? Check out the Little House Picture Books like Sugar Snow and Winter on the Farm that tell some of the best loved stories from the Little House series with lots of illustrations.

You may also enjoy my list The Best Farm Animal Picture Books!

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.

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.

close up photography of white amaryllis flowers

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

Review of “Portrait of the Son”

portrait of the son book cover

A new book from Josephine Nobisso!

Is anyone else a huge fan of of Josephine Nobisso’s The Weight of a Mass and Take it to the Queen? These gorgeous books combine luminous illustrations with fantastic stories in a truly transcendent experience. I’ve been waiting for years for her to add to this series of allegories and it’s finally happening!

Portrait of the Son

In her new book Portrait of the Son, Josephine Nobisso tells a story about charity: love. It’s a variation on an allegory that’s been told many times over the centuries to help us understand a little about the love between the Father and the Son. In the story, an old father and his son live in a world of superlatives. Their great love for each other spills over into helping everyone around them. They create the most amazing art collection in the world, live in the most wonderful house, are kindest to their neighbors, and love each other dearly. When the son dies in the war, what will the father do? To whom will he bequeath his precious art collection?

A Fitting Third Book

The Weight of a Mass reminds us to have faith. Take it to the Queen gives us hope for our fallen world. Now, Portrait of the Son concludes the Theological Virtues Trilogy with an allegory about true charity. I was disappointed at first to see a new illustrator, but then was impressed how the continuity of the illustrations was maintained. Illustrator Ted Schluenderfritz really did a fantastic job keeping the style of the luminous watercolor illustrations in the first two books. Parents will appreciate the extensive symbolism used throughout Portrait of the Son. See how much symbolism you notice, then turn to the beginning and end of the book for a full explanation.

Portrait of the Son is being released November 2021! It would be a great Christmas present or addition to your family library.

You can buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link: Portrait of the Son: A Tale of Love

Or, buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-review-books

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Portrait of the Son” from Gingerbread House Books in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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

planet earth

Review of “Saints Around the World”

saints around the world cover by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

Saints Around the World

If you haven’t heard the hype yet, the internet is buzzing about this amazing new book by Meg Hunter-Kilmer! And with good reason! This is hands down the most thorough look at saints from all around the world I’ve ever seen. From Africa to South America to Asia to the Caribbeans, there really are saints from all corners of the world featured in Saints Around the World!

Around the World and Down to Earth

Although this book features Saints from all sorts of cultures and walks of life, the emphasis is on their common humanity. You’ll hear how saints changed diapers, saints gave their grandchildren pony rides, saints did laundry. This is so important for our kids (and us) to understand: the saints were not just great preachers and theologians, they were moms and dads and kids like us!

Broken and Beautiful: The Body of Christ

This book is a celebration of the diversity of the Body of Christ. You’ll read the stories of Saints from Papua New Guineau to Iceland. You’ll learn about Saints in wheel chairs and Saints with birth defects and Saints who were blind. You’ll read about Saints with learning disabilities and speech impediments. You’ll learn about saints with big personalities and saints who were desperately shy. You’ll see Saints from various ethnicities with a great variety of skin tones.

Beautiful Watercolors

To match the beautiful souls described in Saints Around the World, Lindsey Sanders illustrated this book with beautiful watercolor pictures. Many pictures feature everyday items as symbols. This emphasizes the theme that these saints lived seemingly ordinary lives. You may spot a soccer ball, some musical instruments, horses, and more in the background of these illustrations.

You can get a preview of the gorgeous illustrations and read excerpts from the book on the launch site: https://saintsaroundtheworld.com/excerpts/

You can buy Saints Around the World through my Amazon affiliate link: Saints Around the World

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Saints Around the World” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Interested in more of my favorite Catholic books for Catholic Kids? Check out this list: Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

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!

girls-children-tulips-netherlands.jpg

Review of “Through the Year with Jesus”

A hit at my house!

This year, I’ve been testing out Katherine Bogner’s new children’s Bible Study book: Through the Year with Jesus. And I have to say, it has just blown me away! Not only that, my kids love this book too and now look forward to our weekly Bible study time.

What I love about it!

First, I love the fact that this is a weekly book. Once a week is so much more doable with a busy family with littles than aiming for a daily reflection and feeling bad about how many days you end up skipping. In Through the Year with Jesus, you can just pick one time weekly to read and reflect with your children, whether it’s Sunday before Mass, as part of a morning basket rotation, or during a special family dinner night.

Also, I love that this book follows the Liturgical year. It begins with Advent, the beginning of the Liturgical year, and provides a reflection for each week of Advent, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter Season, and the second Ordinary Time. Is this book specific to a particular Gregorian Calendar year, you ask? No. The readings are chosen to be in the spirit of the season of the Liturgical year but are timeless and appropriate for any given Gregorian year.

Lectio Divina …

These Gospel Reflections are written in the time-tested Lectio Divina method of Bible study. Saints through the ages have practiced this simple but effective method of meditation on God’s Word. There are 4 steps to Lectio Divina: Lectio. Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio. Katherine Bogner simplifies and translates the steps to: Read, Meditate, Pray, Listen. In Through the Year with Jesus, you’ll find a Bible story for each week, discussion prompts for meditation, journaling, or discussion, prayer prompts, and suggestions for practical application.

and Visio Divina

I also love that Through the Year with Jesus uses a lot of Visio Divina. Similar to Lectio Divina, in Visio Divina, you gaze on religious art, meditate on the insights the art gives us into the scene, pray about it, and listen for what God is trying to teach you in this picture. Sound complicated? Really, it’s not, I promise! This is my kids favorite part of this book. We spend about 60 seconds silently looking at the religious painting, then talk about it, often using the prompts from the book. And if you’re wondering, the artwork is high-quality reproductions in full color! You’ll see art from Rubens, Fra Angelico, Barocci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and dozens of other great artists.

You can start at any time!

Since this book follows the Liturgical seasons, you can jump in at any point. It would make a great Easter basket gift, and you could begin the readings with the Easter season section and continue through all the way to the following Lent and beyond. This beautiful and inspiring devotional will be sure to help your family understand- and pray- the Bible like never before!

You can buy it through my Good News Book Shop link: Through the Year with Jesus

Or through my Amazon affiliate link: Through the Year with Jesus

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Through the Year with Jesus” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out more great books for Catholic kids on My Book Lists!