Cuddly animal babies and mothers bound through this lovely new picture book written especially to help mothers inculcate an understanding of boundless love in their children. As mothers read this book to their little ones over and over, children will hear the important message that they are “a masterpiece- God’s work of art” and “a special treasure.” They’ll feel secure and treasured knowing that both their mother and God love them without limits.
A Perfect Gift to Cherish
This sweet book would make a perfect gift for a Baby Shower, Baptism, Christmas or Birthday. There is space in the beginning for a commemorative inscription and a parent to write down their hopes for their child. In the back of the book are spaces for the parents to write down the meaning of the child’s name, a Bible verse for their life, and a prayer for their child.
A Lullaby, a Poem, a Story, a Memory
Whether you download the free song version of Mama, Sing My Song and play it for your child, sing this lullaby yourself, or read it aloud as a poem, your child will feel loved. I love that this book connects the sometimes distant and esoteric concept of God’s love with something even a tiny child understands: their mother’s love. Now they just need to write a version for fathers!
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.
Discover Freedom Island, where “The Brave” citizens fight against the villains who strive to take away their freedoms and corrupt their culture.
This new series presents issues like Communism, Critical Race Theory, the Sanctity of Life, and 2nd Amendment Rights in a way that 4-10 year olds can understand. Each book contains an animal story in the time-honored tradition of Aesop.
An animal on Freedom Island confronts a tricky situation in each book. For example, in “Elephants are Not Birds” Kevin the elephant loves to sing. A “friend” suggests that this means he is actually a bird. But will trying to be a bird make Kevin happy and fulfilled and free?
In “The Island of Free Ice Cream,” the animals of Freedom Island discover that when something is presented as “free” they need to be skeptical. In “Little Lives Matter” Mother Bear refuses to give up on her disabled bear cub Mobi. And when she is old he won’t give up on her either. In “Paws off My Cannon,” the animals keep losing their cupcakes to the aggressive hyenas and can’t agree on whether the cannons or the hyenas are the problem until they try an experiment.
A story, games, missions, and more!
Each book contains a story, family or classroom game ideas, missions, discussion points for further clarification, and more! There’s even a giant map of the island so you can really immerse your kids in the “Brave” universe. These books would be great to use as a framework for a weekly or monthly class. I think they’re best for 6-10 year olds although a mature 4-5 year old would also understand most of the stories.
So far, there are 7 books in the The Brave series with many more planned. This is an inspiring effort by a collaboration of established writers and media figures who believe strongly in core American values and freedoms. There is no specific political agenda being pushed here per se. Rather, the focus is on individual issues such as sanctity of life, cancel culture, truth, gender identity, and so forth.
The author and publisher clearly put a lot of thought and work into creating a quality teaching product with Brave Books. I think you’ll be impressed!
You can order Brave Books as a monthly subscription or as single books through the publisher: Brave Books.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Saga One from Brave Books in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
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.
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!
In the spirit of the Year of St. Joseph, here’s a new Christmas story for your family about Joseph’s Donkey.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”
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.”
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.