YOUCAT for Kids - a good introduction to the Catholic Church

By  Sarah Wentzell, Youth Speak News
  • September 25, 2019

“Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone.” 

I came upon this Moroccan proverb in Bullets, Blood & Stones: The Journey of a Child Soldier, by Donna White. It made me realize how important it is to engage children in their Catholic faith at a young age. Children need a solid base in Catholic morality to develop their conscience and learn to love virtue. 

This summer I went to a public elementary school with my dance group and, while near the playground, I heard a few young children talking. Although not yet even in high school, they were using inappropriate language. 

The sad fact is that many children (and adults) have a distorted understanding of what is morally good and what is not. In the face of all the anti-Catholic influence in the world, Catholic children need to know what the Church teaches so they can stand up for the truth. This is one reason I believe it is crucial for catechisms such as the YOUCAT for Kids

One aspect of this catechism — designed for children eight to 12 — I find especially engaging is the inclusion of analogies. This reminds me of a quote from St. Paul in Romans: “(God’s) invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” By using tangible stories when discussing divine concepts, children find it much easier to understand and relate. Such analogies also make the story come to life. 

In addition, this catechism, first published a year ago, really encourages children’s curiosity. I have always been an inquisitive person and, as a homeschooler, I have been blessed to have all my religion courses taught to me through textbooks by my mother. This has made religion much more personal to me. 

I have been able to discuss all my why’s, what’s and how’s directly. In the YOUCAT for Kids catechism, the topics are represented by questions between the child and teacher. Rather than simply presenting a mundane list of facts, this layout encourages one to think and explore the subject more deeply. 

Furthermore, this catechism encourages a child to use his/her imagination. The book includes many lovely drawings and photographs that help illustrate the point being discussed. In addition, almost every page has unique, charming line drawings, and the lack of detail leaves lots of room for imaginative embellishments. 

When I asked my two younger brothers, Peter, 11, and Benjamin, 13, what they would change about their religion catechism, they said they would add pictures. It is amazing how pictures can make learning distinctly stand out in one’s memory for years to come. 

When I was preparing for First Communion in Grade 2, I used the St. Joseph’s First Communion Catechism. All these years later, the one thing that stands out in my memory is the book’s lovely portrait of Mary. There was a picture of the Blessed Mother standing by a ladder to give her hand to help children climb to Heaven. I find such images definitely help to capture one’s imagination. 

I also noticed that the YouCat catechism uses relatively few words. The explanations are simple, yet complete. For a child, this avoidance of wordiness makes the catechism much easier to follow. Often, fewer words make a bigger impact. 

I am very grateful for the firm foundation in the Catholic faith I was given in my early years. For today’s youth, YOUCAT for Kids is a great beginning to their faith journey. 

(Wentzell, 16, is a Grade 11 student in Seton Home Study School in Thunder Bay, Ont.) 

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