Books on saints, traditions make great Christmas gifts

By  Regina Lordan, Catholic News Service
  • December 19, 2015

Christmas is a time of sharing, and what better thing to share than our faith? The following are some of the books suitable for Christmas giving that can teach youngsters some of the tenets of the Catholic faith.

A Missal for Little Ones translated by Janet Chevrier, illustrated by Joelle d’Abbadie (Magnificat, 64 pages, $12.99).

This beautifully illustrated missal invites young children to become active participants in the Mass with its simple description of the parts of the Mass. The missal does not seek to explain the mysteries, liturgies or the consecration, it only takes the child step-by-step through the parts of the Mass. The book also offers a few prayers for children. Adults can read the book to young ones before attending church, helping the children to recognize what is going on around them, and older children can take the book with them to Mass to help them understand what they are observing. Ages three to seven.

Just for Today by St. John XXIII, illustrated by Bimba Landmann (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 34 pages, $16).

Bimba Landmann brings to life with colourful and intriguing illustrations St. John XXIII’s decalogue of how to live each day humbly, politely and lovingly toward God and others. Affectionately known as “the good pope,” St. John wrote guidelines that are obtainable, direct, sweet and simple enough for children to follow.

The hardcover book is a keepsake that will open the discussion about this pope who courageously had saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust and was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014. Ages four and up.

Catholic Saints for Children by Anne-Sophie du Bouetiez, illustrated by Benedicte Lefebvre (Magnificat, 94 pages, $16.99).

Saint books for children might seem like a dime a dozen, but a few stick out. This one certainly will with its bright watercolour illustrations and inclusion of lesser-known female saints, such as St. Genevieve and St. Hildegard. Each passage includes a description of the saint, illustration, reflection and prayer.

Children will also get the opportunity to read about soon-to-be saints, such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Ages three and up.

Let’s Pray the Rosary by Mauricette Vial-Andre, illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudesson (Magnificat, 33 pages, $14.99).

This illustrated hardcover book will give children an introduction to and reaffirmation of the significance of Mary in Catholicism and praying the rosary to ask for her intercession. The passages include stories about how the rosary came to be, the many ways to pray the rosary and stories about the saints and the rosary. Ages six and up.

Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born by Anna Egan Smucker, illustrated by Amanda Hall (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 32 pages, $17).

Brother Giovanni was a happy monk who loved to bake. He enjoyed his simple role as baker at the monastery until he was tasked to teach a group of unruly students their prayers before an important visit from the local bishop. But the joyful monk was unsuccessful at being stern and could not control the rowdy bunch. One night it dawned on him to bake his way to success, and Brother Giovanni made little rewards out of salt and dough called “pretiolas” to entice the children to learn their prayers. Alas, the boys and girls couldn’t resist the “pretiolas,” that we now know as “pretzels,” and they learned their prayers just in time. All readers will enjoy this fun story and beautifully illustrated hardcover book. Ages four to eight.

Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, illustrated by Dave Hill. (Paraclete Press, 32 pages, $16.99).

A young boy, a priest and one powerful blow to an oak tree begin this legendary story of how the first Christmas tree came to be. Children will enjoy the detailed illustrations and exciting story about how a group of pagans were shown the power of God by the strength of St. Boniface. The story explains why the evergreen tree is a part of the Christmas tradition and includes a prayer based on the words of St. Boniface. Ages four to six.

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