A special thank you to author, Glenys Nellist and her publishers for sending me three different copies of her work. I am happy to include them alongside other Christian/Catholic recommendations.
1. Little Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp in the format of a scrapbook, Little Love Letters from God gives the reader a biblical story on one side of the page followed by a lift-the-flap letter with a message on the other. In one of the letters, following the story of Noah's ark, the letter reads: "Dear_____, Just like I carried Noah, I will carry you too! With all my love, God." I think for a child, this idea of writing or receiving letters from God could be a way to introduce the idea of communicating prayers, and that even though we can't receive real letters in the mail from God, his message is always available to us through scripture.
2. Our Father by Maite Roche
I'm always adding books by Maite Roche to my blog, especially around Christmas and Easter, but this one is great for any time of year. A beautifully illustrated representation of the Lord's Prayer that is both lovely and useful when trying to teach prayers to little ones.
3. Baptism Day by Maite Roche
Another all-year-round book, Baptism Day takes the reader through the steps of a Catholic baptism in ten, short, beautiful pages. The perfect baptism gift or baptism resource for kids.
4. Snuggle Time Prayers by Glenys Nellist
A really sweet book, Snuggle Time Prayers references a biblical passage at the top of every page followed by a rhyming prayer below. For parents looking for ways to make biblical passages more accessible to children, Snuggle Time Prayers takes those familiar passages and relates them to a child's world. To give you an example, here's one of my favorites from the book:
There is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
"Time to snuggle in my bed,
Time to climb the stairs,
Time to thank God for this day,
Time to say my prayers.
Thank you for my comfy bed.
Thank you for my bear.
Thank you that I'm warm and safe.
Lord, please hear my prayer.
5. Snuggle Time Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist
Written in a similar format as Snuggle Time Prayers, Snuggle Time Bible Stories also references a bible passage at the top of each page followed by rhythmic text that retells many familiar biblical stories. If you're looking for a first introduction to the Bible, I think all of the stories are easy to understand and have a nice rhythm to them. My only complaints is that one of the illustrations below (2nd down) seems a little too fierce for a board book. Most board books are meant for children 0-3 and I think I'd be a little apprehensive about a little child looking at that particular page. It of course depends on the child, but I think some children might become a little unsettled by Goliath's angry-looking face.
6. Holy Week: An Emotional Primer by Danielle Hitchen
With lent and then Easter coming up, I thought a book about Holy Week would be fitting. Written by Danielle Hitchen, she has a whole series of Christian-themed primers. I particularly like the matte finish and thick cardboard pages along with the color pallet for each emotion-themed page, but because I think board books are primarily used for children 0-3, I think it might be difficult for a child to understand why a book would have Jesus with an angry face (2nd illustration below). Children always seem acutely aware of facial expressions and while I'm not saying that a child can't understand an angry face, I'm just not sure that a child between the age of 0 and 3 would be able to understand the explanation for why Jesus (in the 2nd below illustration) would be angry, and because of that might find the illustration unsettling. In the below illustration on "overwhelmed" I like the use of grays, black, white, green, and brown, and I think children can relate to the word "overwhelmed" but I think parents will have to explain many of the passages in this book because the words alone (for a 2-3 year old) will not always be enough for them to understand the context of the emotion that goes with the particular biblical passage.
7. Articles at Mass by Ellen Tomaszenwski
Articles at mass! Yes! We need books like this, especially for the youngest, squirmy, mass-goers. A simple book with very straightforward photographs, Articles at Mass is the perfect mass companion for when you not only want your child to be more aware of their surroundings at mass, but also when you need to distract them with something and would much rather distract them with something that's mass-related as opposed to Little Blue Truck or Sheep in a Jeep, etc.
8. Little Books for Catholic Kids
I recently found this boxed set and while I like the series, which has a book on guardian angels, changing the world, lessons from Jesus, loving your neighbor, praying, and serving others, I found that some of the illustrations were the same in each book, which is maybe just a printing fluke but I think having the same illustrations within six different books could be a bit confusing for kids. I do, however, like that the illustrations are all of children, making it particularly relatable to the youngest book-goers.
9. My Golden Book of Saints by Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy
I hadn't seen this board book before and was very excited when I started flipping through it. With a good chunk of information about nineteen saints as well as a prayer to a child's patron saint, I think this is a lovely place to start for children who are just starting to understand and ask questions about the saints.
10. The Word of the Lord edited by Katie Warner
With simple text, I don't think parents will have to do a lot of extra explaining while reading aloud but I'm unfortunately not a huge fan of the illustrations. I know it's so tempting to make things particularly bright and colorful for kids and at times that's great but I had a hard time getting attached to the purple sheep and some of the other illustrations.
11. Cloud of Witnesses: A Child's Book of Saints by Katie Warner
Unlike My Golden Book of Saints that has short biographies of the saints, Cloud of Saints introduces children to eleven different saints through famous quotes. My favorite illustration by far is of Pope John Paul II accompanied by "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
12. Our Blessed Mother by George Brundage
The handle on this book is so clever! Our daughter loves walking around with it and looking at the illustrations. Whoever designed the format of this book really had children in mind! A perfect little introduction to the life of Mary.
13. Jonah and the Big Fish by Susana Gay & Owen Gay
Jonah and the Big Fish is part of a series by Susana Gay and I have to say, I thought the illustrations by Owen Gay were charmingly funny once the reader is introduced to the "big fish." A classic biblical tale that children will enjoy.
14. Light of Sunday by Geena Harrington
A special thanks to Geena Harrington for generously sending me a copy of Light os Sunday. I am so impressed with this book, especially after watching this video and hearing about the amount of thought (and creativity!) that went in to putting it together. A mixed media book, Light of Sunday incorporates both photography and watercolor illustrations to add a compelling combination of the two. I just love the added water splashes in the photographs of the girl below and I think kids will really love those details as well. Likewise, the second illustration and photograph below of the boy with added watercolor notes dancing behind him adds such a fun touch. The text is additionally beautiful as Harrington has a line of poetry for every page to explain the mass's rituals. A lovely book and one I hope to see available on Amazon soon!
15. On Noah's Ark by Jan Brett
Last but not least, Jan Brett makes it into my post once again. As always her illustrations are exceptional and the story of course, never gets old.