Mysteries, dragons, saints fill summer reading for Catholic youth
The following books are suitable for summer reading.
"Brilliant! 25 Catholic Scientists, Mathematicians and Super Smart People" by David Michael Warren, illustrated by Jaclyn Warren. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2020). 101 pp., $24.95.
If there was ever any doubt about the intrinsically compatible relationship between faith and science before, it surely will be debunked after reading "Brilliant!" Although not the intention of the book, the remarkable men and women of faith featured within will surely amplify the aforementioned. The illuminating illustrations pair perfectly with the stories, perhaps a natural result of the collaboration between the married author-illustrator creators of the book. The drawing of Karin Öberg is particularly striking, as she gazes up at the stars with gigantic satellites looking in the background. Öberg is an American-educated Swedish scientist of astrochemistry who uses a telescope in Chile to explore stars and life. A Catholic, she is quoted in the book as saying "knowing that everything in the universe reflects God in one way or another makes it very excited to turn our telescopes toward other stars and see planetary systems like our own around them." Her wonder and awe in God's creation is representative of many of the other inspirational men and women included in the book. A one in a million, this book will be cherished by adults and children alike. Ages 8 and up.
"The Interior Castle: A Boy's Journey Into the Riches of Prayer" by Judith Bouilloc, illustrated by Eric Puybaret. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2020). 72 pp., $15.99.
Castles, dragons, armor and lances entangle with faith and prayer in this magnificent journey through St. Teresa of Avila's castles. Told through the experiences of a child, "The Interior Castle" is unlike any other exploration of the inner heart and soul. It is magical and compelling, while spiritual and meaningful. Illustrated with two-page-spread gorgeously fantastical scenes, "The Interior Castle" will resonate with many young readers. Ages 7 and up.
"Our Friends in Heaven: Saints for Every Day," Volume 1 and Volume 2, by the Daughters of St. Paul, edited by Sister Allison Gliot. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2021). 320 pp., $16.95.
A saint story per day is good for the Catholic soul. A well-written saint story, filled with history and inspiring stories of faith each day is even better, and certainly more enjoyable. "Our Friends in Heaven" offer stories about lesser-known saints such as St. Porphyry, who helped spread Christianity in the 400s, and St. Anthanasius, the Egyptian-born patron saint of theologians. Of course March 17 is devoted to St. Patrick and May 30 to St. Joan of Arc, but their timeless stories are worthy of repetition. Although these stories are geared toward an upper-elementary reading level, even little listeners will enjoy the bravery and adventures of the saints. Ages 6 and up.
"Jesus, I Adore You: Children Praying Before the Blessed Sacrament" by Sabine du Mesnil, illustrated by Armelle Riva, Therese Jauze and Magali Meunier. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2021). 64 pp., $13.99.
For some parents and children alike, praying before the Blessed Sacrament can be intimidating. Will peace and prayerful quiet prevail? Will the children disturb others? Is anyone in the family actually present in the stillness of adoration or just focused on how to get home in one piece? "Jesus, I Adore You" is a welcoming guide in preparation of these moments and a companion during adoration. With soft illustrations of children praying before the monstrance and gentle words describing Jesus' presence in the Eucharist, the book sets the right mindset of calm and peace. In addition to simplifying -- without lessening -- the significance of adoration, "Jesus, I Adore You" also offers suggestions for what to say while praying before Jesus, making it an invaluable resource not just for children but adults too. Ages 5 and up.
"Online With the Saints" by Father Michel Remery. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2020). 256 pp., $24.95.
If you are a fan of "Tweeting with God," the revolutionary multimedia question-and-answer book and social media collaboration that engaged young Catholics into discussions about the faith, "Online With the Saints" is the next best thing. Written by "Tweeting With God" author Father Michel Remery, this edition includes an interactive app with social media profiles of more than 100 saints from around the world, videos and opportunities for other engaging and interactive experiences. Young people spend a lot of time following and swiping though online content. "Online With the Saints" will flood their feeds and feed their faith with positive examples of saintly inspirations. Ages 12 and up.
"Saint Spotting: Or How to Read a Church" by Chris Raschka. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2021). 44 pp., $17.99.
"Saint Spotting" invites young Catholics to "read" or interact with their churches in an engaging and fun way. Recalling his mother's guidance visiting churches when he was a child, author Chris Raschka guides readers around a church, stopping to spot saints in statues and images around its walls. He welcomes readers to discover their saintly stories and special roles in Christian history through the symbols included in the works of art. Children will be inspired to "saint spot" in their own churches and adults will perhaps rediscover some of the beauty they may have forgotten to notice. Ages 4 and up.
"The Thief Who Stole Heaven" by Raymond Arroyo, illustrated by Randy Gallegos. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2021). 40 pp., $18.95.
In this vividly illustrated hardback picture book, New York Times best-selling author Raymond Arroyo beautifully unites the legendary stories of the Holy Family's encounter with robbers on the way to Egypt and the good thief briefly mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. Inspired by the writing and ruminations of saints, Arroyo creates a remarkable and memorable story of faith and mercy. Ages 7 and up.
"Holy Mysteries! 12 Investigations into Extraordinary Cases" by Sophie de Mullenheim. Magnificat (New York, 2021). 80 pp., $16.99.
The Catholic Church is rich with mysteries and traditions that both require and inspire faith. "Holy Mysteries" explores 12 cases in which a little suspension of disbelief can lead to a renewed belief in God's limitless presence in our lives. The cases are fully fleshed out with photographs, timelines, explanations, anecdotal experiences, and first-hand accounts. The book explores several Marian mysteries, the fire at the Holy Sepulcher, Padre Pio's wounds and the host of Lanciano, to name a few. The author approaches the enigmas with a sense of wonder and respect while allowing readers to discover for themselves how with God nothing is impossible. Ages 8 and up.
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Lordan, a mother to three young children, has master's degrees in education and political science and is a former assistant international editor of Catholic News Service. She currently teaches and is a court-appointed advocate for children in foster care.