I’m always on the lookout for great Catholic children’s books. Here’s a roundup of our favorites: five must-read books for Catholic tots, kids, tweens and teens. (If you’re looking for a way to engage your kids in the Mass, check out my book: To Hear His Voice – A Mass Journal for Catholic Kids!)
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Do you know how many children’s books were sold in the US during 2014?
To quote Strong Bad, that is not a small number.
I am not a fan of banning books, but I have to wonder. How many of those 843 million titles encouraged children to seek the true, the good, and the beautiful?
We are charged with a magnificent responsibility, my friends:
we must guard the hearts and minds and of our children, teaching them to live and love according to the tenets of the Catholic faith
Fortunately, there’s a wealth of beautiful, entertaining literature available for Catholic families. Here are my top five, must-read books for Catholic tots, kids, tweens and teens.
5 Must-Read Books for Catholic Tots
The Theology of the Body for Tots (Monica Ashour)
[the above link takes you to a three-volume set; the images below link to individual titles]
What makes us special? Why are we God’s children? These are big questions, but Monica Ashour presents the truth and beauty of Catholic teaching on human sexuality in simple, age-appropriate language. For children ages two to five.
Saints on the Go! (Chantal Boros)
Little ones love transportation, but so did the saints! If you want to know how Joan of Arc, St. Kateri, Pope St. John Paul the Great and others got from point A to point B, you can find out in this darling picture book from Chantal Boros.
The Virgin Mary Around the World
Chantal Boros offers another gem in this board book detailing Marian apparitions around the globe. Travel to Mexico, Portugal, France, and more, learning about Our Lady’s message and the gift of her intercession.
5 Must Read Books for Catholic Kids
Theology of the Body For Kids (3 volume set) (Monica Ashour)
As kids get bigger, so do their questions. Monica Ashour’s Theology of the Body for Kids expands upon the truth of human sexuality in a developmentally appropriate manner.
The Weight of a Mass (Josephine Nobisso)
In return for a scrap of bread from a wealthy baker, a widow promises to participate in the King’s wedding mass as payment. When the baker tries to weigh the value of the mass against her scrap of bread, the baker gets much more than he bargained for.
St. George and the Dragon (retold by Margaret Hodges)
We all know St. George fought the dragon, but do we know how and why? With beautiful illustrations and engaging prose, Margaret Hodges shares the story of Princess Una, her kingdom under siege, and the brave knight, George, who faces certain death in defense of the good and the beautiful.
Homer Price (Robert McCloskey)
From the author of Make Way for Ducklings, this hilarious, heart-warming tale chronicles the adventures of Homer Price – a donut-making, skunk-owning, giant ball of string-collecting hero and all-around good guy.
The Gospel Time Trekkers Series (Sr. Maria Dateno, FSP)
Written by Daughter of St. Paul Sr. Maria Dateno, The Gospel Time Trekkers follows the time-traveling adventures of a group of siblings transported to the time of Jesus. Together, the siblings witness key points in the life of Jesus, learning more about the life and sacrifice of Christ.
5 Must-Read Books for Catholic Tweens
Saints of Note (Diana R. Jenkins)
If you’re looking for an engaging way to introduce your child to the lives of the saints, this is it. Jenkins’ comic-inspired work profiles the lives of the saints with an adventurous story-line and bright, inspiring illustrations.
The Magician’s Nephew (CS Lewis)
Uncle Andrew fancies himself a magician. The truth is, he’s a narcissistic fool playing with forces he doesn’t understand. But when his nephew, Diggory, and Diggory’s friend, Polly, find themselves enmeshed in one of Andrew’s schemes, they set out on a quest not only to save Diggory’s mother from illness but also the streets of London from the evil Queen Jadis. This beautiful narrative takes its readers to the very beginning of Narnia, and the depths of the battle between goodness and pride.
The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald)
Legend has it this was one of Tolkien’s childhood favorites, and I can understand why. It’s MacDonald’s allegorical view of the world, where light, goodness, and the power of prayer conquer the weight of darkness. Follow Princess Irene and her good friend, Curdie, as they navigate a series of adventures destined to challenge and sanctify them both.
Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome)
When the Walker siblings find a trim little sailboat (The Swallow) on the shore of their vacation property, their mother gives them permission to sail to the island at the middle of the lake. Believing it to be uninhabited, the children set up camp and settle down for a few days away from home. Before too long, however, the siblings find themselves toe to toe with the Amazons, and a summer of adventure begins.
The 100 Dresses (Eleanor Estes)
In this Newberry award-winning novel by the prolific Eleanor Estes, a group of girls learns what it means to speak for those who have no voice when their bullying drives an immigrant girl from school. A beautifully written, encouraging tale, The 100 Dresses teaches girls and boys alike the value of human life and the importance of defending it.
The Kingdom of Patria Series (Daniel McInerny)
(Currently, these books are out of print. They are available on Amazon for a ridiculous amount of money, but if you can get your hands on a copy, please do.) Written by Daniel McInerny, the Patria Series is rollicking good fun in the tradition of the Chronicles of Narnia. When Oliver Stoop and his family relocate to Indiana, he discovers a hidden kingdom whose ammunition of choice is a collection of stale biscuits, propelled through the air by a pneumatic whizzing biscuit blaster. Oliver’s foray into the kingdom brings friendship, adventure, and a lesson in truth and loyalty.
5 Must-Read Books for Catholic Teens
The Theology of Her Body/The Theology of His Body (Jason Evert)
The truth of human sexuality and virtue exists within the pages of Pope St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body. In this dynamic flip-book, Jason Evert breaks down the teachings of the Catholic Church in a way teens and their parents can understand. A must read for all teens navigating our secular world.
Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints (Colleen Swaim)
There is remarkable strength and courage in the teenage soul, and Colleen Swaim’s profile of eight modern-day teen saints proves it. From the incredible heart of Maria Goretti to the unbending fidelity of Saint Kizito (a newly-minted Christian marched to his death for standing firm), Swaim presents each of these young women and men as accessible, inspirational role models for teens in every stage of their faith journey.
The Screwtape Letters (CS Lewis)
Wormwood is a demon, sent to seek the ruin of souls under the tutelage of his dear Uncle Screwtape. Written as a series of letters to his darling nephew, The Screwtape Letters frames the depths of our spiritual battle in an entertaining format while painting the enemy with a devilishly appropriate brush.
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
Dickens chronicles the lives of four individuals thrown into the merciless path of the French Revolution in this classic tale of redemption and sacrifice. The struggle and triumphs of Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Lucie Manette and Doctor Manette reveal the capacity for goodness in every human being, regardless of situation or circumstance.
Emotional Virtue: A Guide to Drama-Free Relationships (Sarah Swafford)
As founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries, Sarah Swafford guides teens in their efforts to form true, good and beautiful friendships that radiate the light of Christ. Swafford offers startling insight with characteristic wit and charm, offering practical, actionable advice that never feels preachy or condescending. If your older teen is wading into the murky waters of dating, this book is a great one to read and share together.
What books are on your list of must-read titles for Catholic kids? Let me know in the comments!
Enjoy this post? Read on:
To Hear His Voice: A Mass Journal for Catholic Kids
Saint Biographies for Catholic Kids
Vintage Children’s Authors to Fall in Love With
The Gospel Time Trekkers Series
This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Link Up: Must Read Books. Be sure to check out my colleagues’ suggestions.
(Strong Bad?!?! Once upon a time I made my husband a Strong Bad birthday cake…)
This was a delicious collection of new-to-me titles (thanks for the recommendations!) and old favorites.
An Orange for Frankie is the first picture book that springs to mind. And Boxes for Katje is inspirational without being preachy.
For readers who have graduated to beginning chapter books, the 26 Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie DePaola is hilarious. I appreciate the way that Catholicism is woven naturally into the story.
We just listened to the series as an audiobook read by Tomie himself, and it was a hoot and a half.
Thanks for sharing your list!
Anni H. says
Thank you so much for doing this footwork and sharing this list! I was happy to see some of the small kid books on our shelves, but after the first few recommendations, I began to get ideas for more books on our bookshelves – and, I fondly remember the St. George’s Dragon book from my childhood!
You are so correct – I had never thought about the material children these days are reading. Never thought about whether or not the books we use build them up or not, instill love into them or not, and just help them view the world in a better frame of light!
Thank you for this list, many times over!
Amy Brooks says
I love this list so much! I’m going to Pin it and am very excited to read some to our son!
Oh my goodness, Strong Bad??!?!?!?! You’re bringing me back, here…. I still sometimes say “time to check my sbemail…” and then realize NOBODY GETS IT!!! hahaha
Okay, onto what your post was really about… I LOVE this list you put together. All the heart eyes!
For preschoolers, Tomie de Paola’s “The Clown of God.” That’s our favorite Christmas book and I gave my big kids all their own copies this year. Also “Somebody loves you, Mr. Hash.”
Ginny Kochis says
Father Stephen Gemme says
Have you read Nicholas Gilroy Our Lady and the Guardian? Great Catholic book that celebrates our faith with joy for youth, Nicholas is a homeschooled child!
Hope you can read and share! God Bless You!
Ginny Kochis says
I have not – thank you for the recommendation, Father!
Mindy Emerson says
I have an adult friend who is in RCIA and fulfilling her dream of being Catholic this year at the Easter Vigil. She lives in the US and speaks English well, but has difficulty with reading English (Portuguese is her first and fluent language for reading the writing). She took a big chance and asked me for some easier books to help her understand her faith. (in my career I worked with International families). Can anyone help me with possible leads/titles? I have tried several resources and attempted a Google search, but need easy readability for an adult. Thanks.
Ginny Kochis says
Hi Mindy. I would recommend Scott Hahn, actually. He’s very accessible. I’ll also ask around and see what other people might recommend.
Thank you for this excellent array of good books. I will certainly keep this email to help find/buy some of these treasures! Therese M