All posts by Beth Ruggiero

25 Picture Books to Encourage a Love of Nature

“God wrote “I love you”—He  wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea.  He wrote his message everywhere!  Because God created everything in the world to reflect Him like a mirror—to show us what He is like, to help us to know Him, to make our hearts sing.”— Sally Lloyd-Jones, from The Jesus Storybook Bible

 This month we celebrate Easter and new life seems to be all around. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing trees blossom and birds build nests.  What is dormant is now vibrant and full of life!  It’s such a lovely time for us all to look around at nature since it is neither too hot nor too cold to be outside.  Children love this time of year and they are so observant, aren’t they?!  It is for this reason I’ve put together this list of books in which we can praise our Lord who has given us such beautiful gifts in the world around us, encourage our children to look carefully at the intricacies of what He has made, learn about people who have aided in His creative powers, and become inspired by what could happen when we make the tiniest effort to take care of His gifts for us.  Loving our planet and all that it holds means nothing if we forget who gave it to us.

I’ve divided the list into sub-sections to help break it up a bit.  Click on the picture of the book for our affiliate link!

In Praise of Nature and God’s Wonderful Creations

St. Francis sings of God’s love and all of the surrounding nature join him.  Beautifully illustrated and poetic, Tomie de Paola never disappoints.

Using text from the Old Testament, Tomie dePaola praises all of God’s creations from the sky to the earth to under the water.  It’s a celebration of nature. Continue reading 25 Picture Books to Encourage a Love of Nature

Fight Courageously: A Review of ‘The Shadow of His Wings: A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann’

And of what should we be afraid? Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus. We have discovered what we have to do. Christ has bound our enemies for us and weakened them that they cannot overcome us unless we so choose to let them. So we must fight courageously and mark ourselves with the sign of the most Holy Cross.”–Saint Catherine of Sienna

Interest Level

Grades 7+

Review and Comments

If there was ever a story of courage, faith, and commitment, it is the story of Father Gereon Goldmann.  His story begins with him being drafted into the loathsome SS during WWII.  As a strong German Catholic who had been in the seminary, this is a great struggle.  Father Goldmann is strong, however, and remains committed to our Lord through it all and because of this, he is able to minister to so many. Continue reading Fight Courageously: A Review of ‘The Shadow of His Wings: A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann’

9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Lent is almost here and since it is such an important time of year for Catholics, we wanted to make sure you had some of these amazing books in your collection!  Each book shares a wonderful story meant to help kids understand Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.

Happy Lent!

Click on the picture for affiliate link.

In The Legend of the Sand Dollar Kerry visits her cousin Jack and she learns that God’s creations hold extraordinary lessons.  Jack shows her a simple sand dollar and uses its unique designs to tell her Jesus’ story from his birth to Pentecost.  Kerry is enthralled with what she has learned and knows that God is constantly reminding us all that He is close.  (Ages 3-7)

God Gave Us Easter is a great story for sharing the reason for Easter in simple terms.  It shows ‘new life’ found where things are seemingly dead and it reiterates the story of Jesus and the promise that he would come to take care of our sins. (Ages 3-7)

 

Easter is a time to celebrate and Bella and Pablo are excited to experience every aspect of the day in God’s Easter Gifts.  After Mass they go on an very special and memorable Easter egg hunt.  Each egg they find holds a story about a gift from God.  The children learn that Easter is definitely about celebrating God’s gifts, especially Jesus.  (Ages 4-7)

Humphrey’s First Palm Sunday is a sequel to Humphrey’s story as a young camel when he first met Jesus when he was just a baby.  Now he is much older and wiser and is present during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The pictures are beautiful and the camel’s goofy nature brings fun to the story.  This story stays true to the story of Palm Sunday and is great for kids.  (Ages 4-8)

Three trees each discuss their hopes and dreams for the future in The Three Trees.  Each one hopes for something different and grand but is met with a much more humble fate.  As they find out, their destiny is much more important to the mission of Jesus.  This is a beautiful story that reminds us of the power of the cross.  (Ages 5-9)

The Donkey That No One Could Ride is a simple story about a young, scared donkey.  He meets a man who asks him to carry him on an important ride.  The little donkey does not feel he is worthy, but the man gives him courage.  He agrees to the job and as he carries the man through Jerusalem and people call him a prophet, the donkey feels special.  (Ages 3-7)   For a full review of this book and other Anthony DeStefano books, read our blog post here

The Parable of the Lily tells the story of a farmer’s young daughter who receives a bulb as a gift.  She is disappointed and the gift is forgotten and eventually thrown into the garden.  She is surprised when she wakes up on Easter morning to find a Lily blooming in its place.  Part of a series of parables for little children, this story shares the message of forgiveness and new life.  (Ages 3-8)

The First Easter Bunny is simple story that shares the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection told through the eyes of a rabbit.  Perfect for an Easter gift!  (Ages 4-8)

 

 

 

Perfect for early readers, The Easter Cave goes through many of the details of the Easter story while using rhyme and rhythm.  Beautiful illustrations and repetition make it a wonderful book to keep in your home.  (Ages 4-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading 9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” –from Wonder

Grade Level:

Grades 5-8

Review and Thoughts

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is one of those great middle elementary books that teaches everyone the struggles and beauties of life and how sometimes they become entwined and we can’t have one without the other.

The story begins with our introduction to August Pullman who has been born with a terrible facial deformity.  In fact, when he is first born, he tells us that the nurses took him away so that his mother couldn’t see him.  He goes on to explain how everyone is so shocked and flustered in the hospital, but when his mother sees him, she notices how beautiful his eyes are and loves him the way any mother would.  And so the book begins with that combination of struggle and beauty and continues throughout. Continue reading Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’

“A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.”—Alan Perlis

Reading Level

Grades 5-8

Review

The draw of The Wild Robot is definitely its premise.  We’ve all read stories of characters trying to survive in the wilderness in books like Hatchet and Robinson Crusoe.  We’ve also read futuristic stories of robots who have evolved to act more and more like humans.  Rarely, however, are the two instances put together as they are in this novel. Peter Brown brings us this intriguing situation and, I admit, this is what drew me to the book. Continue reading Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’

The Unloved and the Forgotten: A Review of ‘Wolf Hollow’

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”—Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Grade Level

6-8

Review and Thoughts

Our story begins with Annabelle, a young girl who lives on her family’s farm during WWII.  Everything is fine for Annabelle and her family until a new girl, Betty Glengarry, arrives at a nearby farm and starts making trouble.  In fact, in my opinion, she is absolutely horrific.  She begins bullying and torturing Annabelle on her way to and from school and Annabelle is constantly afraid. Continue reading The Unloved and the Forgotten: A Review of ‘Wolf Hollow’

20 Of the Best Board Books for Catholic Babies & Toddlers

20 Catholic Board Books

Obviously we feel that there is no better gift to give a child than that of a book.  And what better way to start a child’s life than with plenty of good Catholic board books!  Perfect for Baptism, First Christmas, First Birthday and other major events in the first couple of years, these books teach valuable lessons, prayers, different aspects of our faith, and Jesus’s love for his children.  These books are not to be missed! Continue reading 20 Of the Best Board Books for Catholic Babies & Toddlers

The Greatest Pursuit: A Review of ‘The Perfect Blindside’

“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable of pursuits becomes tedious.”—Thomas Aquinas

Interest Level:

Grades 7-12

Review and Thoughts

I am often hesitant when it comes to reading Catholic young adult literature, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with The Perfect Blindside.  Not only does it tell a good story, but it brings aspects of the faith into the story without beating the reader over the head.  I appreciate the effort by Leslea Wahl to appeal to her young adult readers that way. Continue reading The Greatest Pursuit: A Review of ‘The Perfect Blindside’

Simple Love for Him: A Review of ‘Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina’

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first—by deed, the second—by word, the third—by prayer.  In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is unquestionable proof of love for Me.” –Diary of St. Faustina (742)

Review and Thoughts

Once again I’ve uncovered a book that is perfect for the Year of Mercy.  Don’t worry!  If you’ve forgotten all about the Year of Mercy, now is your chance to be reinvigorated!  This book is beautiful, simple, and one of my most favorite ‘mommy books’ I’ve read. Continue reading Simple Love for Him: A Review of ‘Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina’

The Games In Which We Compete: A Review of ‘The Crossover’ and ‘Booked’

“Continue, dear young men, to give the best of yourselves in sports competitions, always remembering that the competitive spirit of the sportsman, though so noble in itself, must not be an end in itself, but must be subordinated to the far more noble requirements of the spirit. Therefore, while I repeat to you: be good sportsmen, I also say to you: be good citizens in family and social life, and, even more, be good Christians, who are able to give a superior meaning to life, in such a way as to be able to put into practice what the Apostle Paul said about athletes to Christians of his time: ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it … They (athletes) do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable’” (l Cor 9:24-25).—Saint Pope John Paul II from his address to the Bologna Soccer Team, December 9, 1978

The Crossover

Interest Level:

5-9

Grade Level Equivalent:

5-6

Review and Thoughts

Kwame Alexander’s book The Crossover would’ve made my basketball-lovin’ heart oh so happy back when I was in middle school.  Alexander uses poetry to write so passionately about the sport and brings in a close family to add to the drama of the novel. Continue reading The Games In Which We Compete: A Review of ‘The Crossover’ and ‘Booked’