Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Katie Reads {Books for Lent}


Lent is three weeks away!  I'll make sure to post some great activities for kids and classrooms soon, but I wanted to also get you thinking about what you will be reading during the Lenten Season.  Maintaining spiritual reading of challenging books has been an incredibly formative part of my faith.  I often use Lent as a time to step up my reading- whether it is longer books, challenging devotionals, or prayer companions, I find that spiritual reading during Lent is always fruitful.  I'd like to invite you to join me- if finding time to read is tough, or you have a hard time actually finishing books, choose something good, set a pace (many of my recommendations today work perfectly for a page a day or chapter a day), and make it part of your Lenten resolutions.  Maybe you are giving up some social media time, or watching tv, so why not take up a great Catholic book to fill that time?

For several Lents, I've read Fulton Sheen's Life of Christ and it remains my favorite book.  I still pick it up and read parts, but I want to make time for reading a few other things this Lent.  Unlike my other Katie Reads post, that stack pictured is NOT a stack of books I've already read- instead I wanted to share with you the books I considered reading this coming Lent, give you some recommendations to help you find one for yourself, and tell you which I chose for myself.  My choices will be at the very bottom of the post!  And, this particular list is full of books for adults (and one for teens). You can check out my Lent Book Recommendations from last year, which includes titles for both kids and adults, here.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
***Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
###Sophia Institute Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
^^^Ave Maria Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I only recommend things I use and love and want to share with you. All opinions are my own. :)


The Cries of Jesus from the Cross: An Anthology, by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ###

I know, I know, I just admitted that I was trying to pick up something different besides my beloved Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen, and here the first book on this list is by Fulton Sheen ;). This brand new book contains an anthology of seven of Sheen's books all relating the the Last Words of Christ from the Cross.  I have read a couple of the books included (Victory of Vice, for example) but several of the titles are out of print and available again in this collection.  Each of Sheen's original books have seven chapters correlating to different aspects of Christ's seven Last Words (virtue, vice, Beatitudes, relation to Mary, etc.). What is truly remarkable about the anthology is that all of that rich writing is now in one place organized by theme.  You can read through all the related teachings and wisdom that Sheen shared in many of his Good Friday retreats in one place.  Also, seven sections from seven books means that there are 49 chapters in this book- a perfect amount to read one chapter each day during Lent.  I've already finished "The First Word" section and had to make myself stop and save the rest for Lent.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Fulton Sheen's teaching is timeless and relevant.  He brings together profound truth in Scripture with the powerful word choice of an orator, leaving a lasting impression that will help you both to better understand your faith while also leaving you filled with wonder at the depth of the wisdom and plan of God.


Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, by Brant Pitre
I just finished this book and it was fascinating.  Seeing the unfolding of Old Testament Covenants and Prophecies into their New Testament fulfillment is one of the most profound ways I am drawn deeper into my faith.  In this book, Pitre uses his extensive research of the Jewish Passover, Temple Customs, and the Last Supper to explain why we believe what we believe about the Eucharist.  Using the Old Testament as well as other early Jewish sources and writings of Church Fathers from the first centuries after Christ, this book shows amazing connections between the Passover Lamb, the Manna from Heaven, and the Bread of the Presence with Messianic Prophecies.  This book would be a perfect Lenten read, especially leading up to Holy Week and the remembrance of the Last Supper.  I think every Catholic could gain a better understanding and appreciation for the miracle of the Eucharist from this book.


Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, by Pope Benedict XVI
I've shared in an earlier post that over the summer, I read Jesus of Nazareth and the Infancy Narratives from Pope Benedict XVI, and I've been saving this volume on Holy Week for Lent. After Life of Christ, these books have most formed my understanding of the Gospels.  I have not read this title yet, but am sure that it will not disappoint after how much I gained from the first books in the set.  Pope Benedict XVI's writing is scholarly but warm and attainable, and I know that there will be much to be learned from his wisdom as he walks with us beside Christ from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.


The Spear, by Louis de Wohl
This book has been passed around and talked about by my family over the past year, but I've saved reading my copy for Lent.  I shared how much I enjoyed the author's novel about St. Catherine of Siena in this post, and am looking forward to getting to know the fictionalized story of the soldier who thrust his spear into the side of Christ at the Crucifixion and view the events in Jerusalem through his eyes.  I'm hoping that using fiction will help me see the "same" story in a different way this year. What's your opinion on Biblical fiction?  Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I ... don't... but I trust that this title won't disappoint.

Ok, moving into more devotional/daily reading books for Lent in this second half of the post, so I'll share some of the details you might be curious about as well as a look at the inside.


Lent: One Day at a Time for Catholic Teens, by Katie Prejean McGrady and Tommy McGrady ^^^

Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: No
Features:Scripture Verse, Reflection, Reflection Questions, Challenge, Prayer

Katie is a sought after speaker in the youth ministry community, and this little Lenten book is a perfect companion for teens.  Each reflection uses relatable situations and real examples that middle and high schoolers can apply to their own lives.  The short reflection is followed by doable challenges, like a question to think about or a short goal for prayer, as well as a more challenging growth opportunity, such as reading a Bible passage and journaling or scheduling a time for Confession.  There are also weekly pages for each Sunday to help the kids set goals for the week.

This little devotional (which is also super affordable even for a group) is the perfect solution to helping teens keep on track and dive into the retreat of Lent.  Too often they (well, don't we all) set lofty goals, fail, and quit, missing the powerful opportunity for growth during Lent that goes beyond giving up chocolate for 40 days.  I'm excited to use these reflections with my students each morning, and think it will translate well in family life, individual use, or in the classroom.


Lenten Gospel Reflections, by Bishop Robert Barron
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes- specific to 2019.  Could be used again next year for same weekday Masses, but Sunday Masses will change for Year A
Mass Readings: Gospel only
Features: Full text of Gospel, Reflection, Reflection Questions, Room to Journal
Special Additions: Set of Stations of the Cross in the Back, both images and prayers

Bishop Barron gives some of my favorite reflections on the Sunday readings. (Do you ever listen to his podcast? It's a great reflection to keep you focused on Sunday Mass throughout the week.)  This booklet is available for free from Word on Fire (plus shipping and handling) or at a discount if you want to order for a group.  I love that it has the full text of the Gospel as well as a short reflection and room to journal.  If you are looking for a Lenten resolution to go along with Daily Mass- maybe try taking notes during the homily using this or another journal.  I plan to keep this one in my purse and make that morning prayer time in the few minutes after Mass before I head to my classroom a little more meaningful.

I also love that it has a full set of the Stations of the Cross, both images and prayers, right in the book so you can pray anytime during Lent.



Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Devotional, by Sr. Theresa Alethia Noble, FSP ***
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: References to all Readings, Weekdays stay the same, Sundays list Readings for Years A, B, and C
Features: Mass Reading References, Scripture Verse, Long Reflection, Examen and Intercessory Prayer, and Journaling Questions
Special Additions: Weekly art of Saints & Memento Mori


Sr. Theresa conducted an interesting experiment last year- she kept a ceramic skull on her desk and used social media to talk about Memento Mori- the concept that Christians must "remember their death" each day.  Have you ever seen art of a Saint depicted with a skull?  Considering that one day we will die, and therefore we need a Savior, is a critical part of our decision to follow Christ.  In this Lenten devotional, Sr. Theresa is bringing back this ancient practice through her written reflections and a guided Memento Mori examen for each day.  I love that this devotional is designed to be used Lent after Lent, because I think that each season we can unpack more layers of truth through the prayer to consider our mortality and desire heaven each day.


Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Journal, by Sr. Theresa Alethia Noble, FSP ***
Format: Lined journaling pages
Dated: No
Mass Readings: No
Features: Each page features a Memento Mori inspired Bible verse, Saint quote, or other wisdom, otherwise blank and undated for your own journaling
Special Additions: Introduction and How to Use This Journal sections from author

The Memento Mori devotional poses some great questions for reflection and prayer, but doesn't leave any additional space to record your own thoughts.  Cue this matching companion journal, which shares the design and graphics of the book, features Memento Mori themed quotes and Bible verses on each page, and gives you more than 200 undated lined pages to write and journal and pray.



Give Up Worry for Lent, by Gary Zimak ^^^
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: No
Features:Scripture Verse, Reflection, Respond Prompt, Prayer


We give up chocolate, we give up tv, but what if instead we gave up worry for Lent?  Many of us can be bogged down by fear instead of relying in the trust that Jesus desires from us.  This devotional specifically focuses on helping the reader dwell in God's rich mercy and move away from fear.  I think that it would be a perfect challenge to help any Christian combat the anxieties of everyday life, hopefully forming new habits of trust and peace.


Open Your Heart: Daily Lenten Reflections from Pope Francis ***
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: No
Features: Scripture Verse, Words of Pope Francis, Reflection, Prayer

Pulling from his homilies and writings, this collection of wisdom from Pope Francis brings us from the call to conversion of Ash Wednesday through the joy of the Resurrection. It's perfect little pocket size would make it a great book to carry with you in your purse or keep on your desk, and bite sized snippets just a page long would make it easy to fit into even the busiest of days.


St. Therese of Lisieux's Little Way of the Cross, from Just Love Prints

While praying the Stations of the Cross isn't reserved just for Lent, this pretty little set of prayer cards sure would be a nice way to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus and St. Therese of Lisieux this season.  The set of heavy laminated cards come on a rose gold ring to compliment to lovely rose and crown of thorns illustrations.  Each Station card has a Scripture verse, a reflection, words from St. Therese's writings, and a short prayer.  Praying the Stations with this new set of prayers is sure to be a fruitful and beautiful experience.  Lindsay is also offering a printable set with license to print for a school or parish, so you could create your own booklets to use with a group!


Ok, so what of this stack am I actually going to read this Lent?  Here's my (probably over ambitious) plan:
-Read Bishop Barron's Daily Gospel Reflections after morning Mass
-Read Lent: One Day at a Time with Catholic Teens with my students at the beginning of the school day
-Read one chapter a day of The Cries of Jesus from the Cross (and I have a friend who is reading this with me= accountability)
-Read The Spear as my fiction book (I've always got one fiction and one nonfiction book going at the same time, so this is normal for me ;) )
-And Read Memento Mori as my reflection/examen before bed

Can I do it? We'll see.  It will help that for part of my Lenten sacrifice I plan to be more disciplined with my time, careful with social media and rest, etc. and I also want to have a structured bedtime (I tend to stay up way too late!).  So I think that the structure and demands of all this reading will help me with my other resolutions as well.

So are you inspired?  What would you like to read this Lent?  I'd love to hear in the comments, or you can join the discussion over on my Instagram!


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Holy Family Hearts Coloring Pages and Card


The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. With Valentine's Day later this week, it's a perfect time to share love with others through the devotion to the Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart, and Pure Heart of St. Joseph.

I just found this adorable poem to the Holy Family that works perfectly with the Holy Family Hearts.  As best I can tell, it was published in a Sunday School Teachers' Handbook in 1861.  Have you ever heard this prayer before?

Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee,
Heart of Mary, I implore thee,
Heart of Joseph, pure and just,
In these hearts I put my trust.

I have a couple new coloring pages for you and a card using this poem that would make perfect Valentines:


Click here for the card:
 And here for the poem in cursive:
 And here for the poem in print:
You might also like the coloring pages and prayer cards linked in this post, and I usually have Holy Family Hearts stamps in my Etsy shop, but right now I think they are all sold out except for the Pure Heart of St. Joseph stamp.  You can always send me a message there if you want to be notified when there will be a restock. :)





May the example of the Holy Family guide us in the right way to love.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nothing Ordinary



"Either we learn to find our Lord in the ordinary, everyday life, or else we shall never find Him." 
~St. Josemaria Escriva

Here we are are, back in Ordinary Time, this short stretch between Christmas and Lent.  It can be tempting after the busyness of Advent and Christmas to put away the decorations, set aside seasonal devotionals or practices, and assume that there is nothing particularly special about Ordinary Time- but that is far from the truth.  Ordinary Time doesn't mean boring- it calls us to order, to growth, to everyday holiness.  Ordinary Time allows our faith to flourish in the normalcy of life, where Christ has always been and always will be.

It is good to have the unique Seasons of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter to shake us awake with the monumental events at the beginning and end of Christ's earthly life, but He (and we) certainly did a lot of living in between.  During this Season of Ordinary time we soak up Christ's miracles, His teachings, His call to His followers.  We find ways to be his disciples not just in extraordinary situations, but in each ordinary moment.

Just as I decorate my home for Seasons like Advent and Lent, I try to make the decor to also reflect the Season of Ordinary Time.  Lots of green as a reminder of the growth we are called to, prints and pictures of Saints whose feast days we celebrate, and quotes from Mass readings are on frequent rotation in my home.

I just took down my Christmas decorations last week, and thought you might like to see a few of the corners of my apartment that I dressed up for Ordinary Time.  Rotating out the art with the Seasons also helps me appreciate it with fresh eyes, and I always love "shopping" my apartment and simply rearranging what I already have in a new way.  (More tips on that in this post.)

When possible, I've tried to link to items in these photos if you see something you'd like for your own home. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.


First up, here's a favorite reading spot in my living room.  The fabulous chair my mom found at our favorite local thrift store- it has giant flowers in the best shade of blue and green, and while a bit crazy and threadbare, I love it.  The end table was made from an old card catalog and holds just a small portion of my pens and markers, making this a great spot for Bible Journaling.  But the highlight is my Mary Consoles Eve print, which to be honest, I have on display no matter the Season. It just tends to move locations.  So much prayer and symbolism are packed into this piece of art, and I know it has impacted countless people. Meditating on the Incarnation is fitting all year round.

-"Mary Consoles Eve" Print by Sr. Grace Remington from Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.  Can be purchased here.
-Vintage blue flower print chair and card catalog-turned-end-table.


Next up, in my bedroom, I have a beautiful little cabinet I found last summer at a flea market and am using as a prayer space.  I've already changed out the items on top for display quite frequently, and I think this is my favorite yet, probably due to this gorgeous standing Crucifix.
*HolyArt sent me this product in exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own, and I only recommend things I love and hope you would too.

On my cabinet, I've got some green plants (Philodendrons are the only thing I can keep alive for extended periods of time- #farmersdaughterwithablackthumb) to remind me of the growth of this Season, as well as a beautiful wrapped canvas of Raphael's Disputation of the Holy Sacrament.  That painting kept popping up in events in my life last fall, and I knew I needed to have a copy of my own.  There are so many layers of meaning and so much to contemplate in this painting.

And I just added this standing Crucifix to my collection.  It is made of natural, carved ashwood, and the detail is stunning.  The two-tone wood is simple and yet profound.  I'm so pleased with the quality and the customer service of those I've worked with at HolyArt.  Their site has literally thousands of unique Catholic items- from statues and jewelry, to liturgical accessories and food from monasteries around the world.

-Vintage Lives of the Saints book and milk glass bowl-turned-planter.
-The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament by Raphael from ArtCanvas on Amazon (also can't say enough about their customer service! I had a minor problem with an order, and they bent over backwards to quickly remedy the situation and upgrade my original order.)
-Natural Wood Standing Crucifix from HolyArt.

The wood grain is visible in the Corpus and each little carving adds to detail that creates a stunning overall effect. It arrived well packed and in perfect condition all the way from Italy! The quality of construction and classic design means this is an heirloom piece I plan to enjoy for many, many years to come.


Someday I hope to have a fireplace mantle to decorate, but until then, I decorate the tops of my antique bookshelves.  This one is especially pretty as two of the shelves hold my vintage book collection, organized by color.  (I just can't do it with all my other books though- they are organized by topic and then author so I can find and use them quickly!)  On top of this shelf, I've got mu Louisa May Alcott book collection, which reminds me of cozy winters, a snowy scene painted by my uncle, a print with the line from Jane Austen's Emma, "There's nothing like staying home for real comfort," and a Mary and Baby Jesus statue that belonged to my Great- Grandma- it has 1901 written on the inside!

-Vintage book collection.
-Winter painting done by my uncle.
-Home print by Carrot Top Paper Shop.
-My Great Grandmother's Mary & Baby Jesus statue.

And on the top of my other bookshelf is my letterboard, which I change out with the Seasons.  You can see some other examples using the hashtag #katiesletterboard.  My favorite (fake) boxwood wreath is perfect for Ordinary Time, and I absolutely love the Immaculate Heart tin ornament my sister got me for Christmas.  As I researched it to find a link for you, I'm realizing that it's done in the style of a milagro or ex voto, and now I'm intrigued and plan on doing more research. ( If you know more about this custom, I'd love to hear from you!)  This quote from Psalm 84 came up in my prayer last week, and seemed like a perfect verse for this first part of Ordinary Time.  It especially reminds me that all of these outward expressions of decor and liturgical traditions should ultimately help us orient our lives so that we are not just welcoming Christ into our homes, but into our hearts.


-Immaculate Heart tin ornament here on Amazon. (But says it is currently unavailable.  A kind reader sent a link that she found it here!)
-Gray letterboard from Hobby Lobby, similar here.
-Vintage sewing machine drawer.
-Boxwood wreath, similar here.


How do you mark Ordinary Time in you home and heart?  I'd love to hear back from you in comments, or tag me in a photo of your Ordinary Time decor on Instagram!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Names of God: The Blessed Trinity Graphic Organizer


January is dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  As an opening activity after our school's morning prayer announcements (themed right now about the Names of Jesus), I asked my students how many names of Jesus they could think of- so they brainstormed and shared some of their favorite titles. Then , because we are preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation, I asked them what other names they knew for the Holy Spirit... and they came up empty.  So I decided we needed a new tool to extend our discussion!

This simple graphic organizer could be used in lots of different ways:
-Give the students a blank copy and see how many names they can write within a certain time limit
-Then have the students share their ideas and "steal" from friends, expanding their lists
-Have them choose one name for each Person in the Blessed Trinity and research where it is used in the Bible
-Choose a name from the page and research what it means, and then write an original prayer using that title
-Discuss why we have been given so many Names for God
-Ponder and pray about the Mystery of the Trinity- Three Persons in One God

Click here to print the Blessed Trinity Graphic Organizer:



You might also be interested in these activities that would be great for teaching about the Holy Name or the Blessed Trinity. Click on the image to go to each original post for more details and printables.

Names of Jesus Collage:

Blessed Trinity Mobile:

Most Holy Name of Jesus Coloring Page:


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Katie Reads {14} Books from the Second Half of 2018


Only good way to start 2019 is to recap the books I read in the second half of 2018.  I got a little behind with recommendations, so this is a longer post, but I hope that you are able to find some new titles for your family!  The first half of the post has books for grownups and the second half for kids of various ages.

-This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
-Some of the books were sent to me for consideration by the publisher or author, as denoted below. I only recommend things I use and love and want to share with you. All opinions are my own. :)

  • I picked up this book while visiting the Fr. Kapaun museum at his hometown parish in Kansas.  With one brother-in-law serving in the Army and another brother-in-law who chose Fr. Kapaun as his Confirmation Saint, I was excited to get to know him a little better and ask for his patronage over my family.  It was powerful to walk where he walked, and pray in the church where he grew up and then served as a priest.  This book was an inspiring look into Servant of God Kapaun's life, but also the influence he had on his fellow soldiers and the miraculous stories attributed to his intercession in recent years.  American, farm kid, priest, soldier, prisoner of war, Medal of Honor recipient, and Servant of God- there is much to be learned from Fr. Kapaun's love for the Lord and his fellow man. 

Wisdom from Pope Paul VI, by Mary Leonora Wilson FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • With his recent Canonization, Pope St. Paul VI is getting a little more attention, and rightly so.  His teachings on family and sexuality during his papacy 40 years ago are proving prophetic and are needed more than ever.  This book was a perfect introduction to get to know him better, and I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from it.  The book includes a brief biography at the beginning and then breaks into themed chapters where excerpts of his writing on various topics have been assembled in readable lengths.  The selections are from various homilies, addresses, and writings and cover topics like Mary, suffering, and the Eucharist.  I think that it would be a great book to pick up for inspiration from a wise and influential leader, and would be easy to use as a springboard for prayer.


Give Peace to My Soul: Discover Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity's Secret of Prayer, but Jean Lafrance
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • When this book arrived, I knew next to nothing about St. Elizabeth of the Trinity besides the fact she was canonized just a few years ago.  This little book is just over 100 pages long and gives not only a biography of her life, but more so a glimpse into the importance of her life of contemplative prayer.  The author weaves into his own commentary excerpts from her own writing, that of great Carmelites like St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as well as other contemporary writers on the topic of prayer. I was inspired by St. Elizabeth's insights into this deep and profound prayer, and walked away with a desire to dive more into the interior quiet and rest she so recommended through the gift of contemplation.  I'd like to read more of her own writing and will have to add her autobiography to my book list.
Lay Siege to Heaven: A Novel about St. Catherine of Siena, by Louis deWohl
  • I'll be honest right now and say that I haven't actually finished this book yet- but it is quite long!  After my sister gave me The Spear to read (which I'm saving for Lent) I became intrigued by the author and decided to order this novel on St. Catherine of Siena, my Confirmation Saint.  deWohl writes in a fictionalized biography style, drawing on facts but adding characters, dialogue, etc. to carry the story.  I used to be a little reluctant of reading this format, but now just take it as the unique genre that it is.  I am enjoying this retelling quite a bit, and while it includes tons of other characters and references (hence the lack of speed in my reading) I certainly am learning a lot about the time, politics, and state of the Church during Catherine's lifetime, as well as details of her remarkable influence.  I look forward to finishing it and reading more of Louis deWohl's work.


Into His Likeness:Be Transformed as a Disciple of Christ, by Edward Sri
  • What is discipleship?  We are all called to it, to follow Christ radically, but how do we live as a disciple.  I really liked this new book from Dr. Sri and found it both easy to read but also a thought provoking look at being a Christian.  With a look back to Biblical times, it helps give a format to modern discipleship with practical tips. I think this would be a great book for group study, especially during a time of challenge and growth, like the new year or during Lent.
  • Kendra's blog Catholic All Year is the go-to for all things Liturgical Living.  Her new book is an essential handbook for bringing the rhythm of the Church year into your home or classroom.  Walking through the Seasons, it includes ideas for prayer, song, food, decor, and activities to magnify the beauty and tradition of being Catholic.  I love that it is written with the characteristic intelligent humor that you get from Kendra on her blog and other social media, making it both informative and entertaining to read. I think any Catholic (or interested non-Catholic) could pick this up and find a wealth of ideas to add into the cadence of everyday life to enhance their prayer and practice of the faith. 

Around the Year with the von Trapp Family, by Maria Augusta von Trapp 
  • This book- I've been waiting to find a copy for years! The original has been out of print and used copies are quite pricey.  I have a sister who grew up loving The Sound of Music (and I do too!) and there are lots of family jokes about wanting to be Maria von Trapp.  Now that sister is a wife and mom, so getting her a copy of Maria's own book on Liturgical Living seemed like the perfect gift.  Sophia Press released a new edition of the book, and I got her a copy for Christmas... and one for myself ;)
  • This printing is a lovely heavy hardback book with glossy pages and little original illustrations.  Maria narrates how her family lived out the liturgical year, keeping traditions that reflected their Catholic faith, as well as Austrian customs and family celebrations.  She shares ideas for decorating, teaching, and prayer for all the holidays and holy days.  Each section also has recipes and music.  And my favorite section, called "Our Life- A Feast," details how the family celebrated the unique and "ordinary" events of life- birthdays, Sacraments, graduations, etc.  It gives a lovely little glimpse into their lives and is inspires me to build and hold traditions and the collective memory of a family.
  • Just like Kendra's book, no matter your age or family situation there is something to be learned from and enjoyed in this book.  So much of the faith can be woven into our daily life, from the way we decorate to the food we eat, those actions tell the story of what we  believe and pass it on to a new generation.
  • I've always kept a prayer journal, but its purpose has changed tons over the years.  In high school and college, they looked more like letters to God, peppered with favorite Bible verses.  Now they are much more of study journals, filled with notes from talks or podcasts and details from Bible Study.  There is no wrong way to prayer journal, whether it is in a notebook, in a journaling Bible, our on post its in your planner, but if you are looking for some practical tips about how to use journaling to grow your prayer life, this book it great.  It packs in lots of ideas for getting started or looking at journaling in different ways.  It was a quick read and I enjoyed the readable, friendly style.
Just a Minute: Meditations for Deep Trust, by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
Just a Minute: Meditations for Inner Peace, by Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • These cute little pocket sized books are perfect for weaving short little moments of prayer throughout the day.  Each book features 50 themed meditations, all centered around a Scripture passage, and include a reflection and a short prayer.  The simple design could be flipped through and used in any order.  I think they would be perfect to tuck in a purse or desk to pull out when you need a little inspiration. They also would make a great gift to pass onto to someone going through a hard time, giving them a tool to have at their fingertips to encourage prayer.

Books for Kids and Families:


Side by Side: A Catholic Mother-Daughter Journal, by Lori and Ava Ubowski
*Ave Maria Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Journals and devotionals for made for Catholic kids can be a great tool to help them internalize their faith and apply it to real life.  Finding just the right interactive journal to be the best fit for age and interest can be tough, but worth it.  I love this new option created by a mother-daughter author pair just for moms and girls to use together.  
  • It is colorful, illustrated, and has relevant topics to write about that are both fun and lighthearted as well as more serious and deep.  The side by side format is set up that mom and daughter could each use the journal together, or write in it separately and then talk about it.  Or it even lends itself to encourage just writing back and forth to one another- which might be a great communication outlet during the beautiful but challenging pre-teen/teen years.
  • I think this journal would best fit middle school girls, but certainly could start being used a little younger.  The relationship building and open communication this journal means to encourage is exactly what young ladies need during the growing up years.


I Pray the Mass, by Patricia Jablonski and Mary Tebo
I Pray Every Day, by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • These sweet books are perfect companions for preschoolers and early elementary aged kids who are really learning more about prayer and the Mass.  Each book has cute illustrations, kid friendly explanations, and prayers.
  • The illustrations are colorful and feature kids in various environments as they pray.  The kiddos represent many different ethnicities as well as kids of varied physical abilities, which I think is a good way for the readers to both see themselves as well as the universality of the Church.  
  • The book is broken up to have a child friendly explanation on the left page and then a short companion prayer on the right.  This format would make it easy to read any amount of the book in any particular order as you are looking to highlight a particular kind of prayer or part of the Mass.
Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Graphic Novel, by Natalie Muglie and Sam Estrada
  • I reviewed the first book in this series, Our Lady of Fatima, in this post and loved it so much I also backed their second book on Kickstarter.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Graphic Novel, is a vibrant retelling of the powerful apparition of Mary in Mexico in 1531.  Its bright pictures, captions, and speech bubbles use the popular graphic novel format that kids of all ages love.  Graphic novels are a hot commodity in my classroom, and are a great way to get even reluctant readers to pick up a book they might not normally gravitate towards.  
  • Like the first book, the narrator of the story adds an interesting twist.  At the opening of the plot, we find ourselves in 20th Century Mexico with a young boy and his mom talking about St. Juan Diego and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  At the end of the story, it is revealed that the boy is actually St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, teaching the reader about yet another Mexican Saint and layer of North American history.  There also is a solid pro-life theme woven throughout the entire book, which is a great takeaway message for any reader.
  • The book closed with extra informational pages about Saint Jose, amazing facts about the miraculous tilma, and more.  Those pages add to the educational value as they transfer the narrative story into a more non fiction format.  
Pope Francis: Builder of Bridges, by Emma Otheguy and Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez
*Bloomsbury provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Who Was Junipero Serra?, by Christian Clifford
(part of #saintbooktrek, a group of Catholic teacher and librarians sending books to Catholic schools, sharing with our students, and then sending on to a new school)
  • This Pope Francis book has creative and colorful illustrations that make it a unique biography  to share with kids.  The vibrant pictures add depth to the story, tracking Jorge Bergolio from his childhood through being named Pope.  Best for lower elementary age kids, I think that this book would be well used in sharing how the leaders of our church, while called in a special way by God to be priests, bishops, and pope, also grew up like regular kids, went through hard things, and had to make continuous decisions to keep growing in their faith. In the midst of a difficult time in the Church, it is important to help kids find the true and the good.  I think that this book would be useful to read with kids as a reminder of the humanity of the Pope, the need to pray for the Pope, and the respect for the seat of the Pope.  The book does emphasize the "builder of bridges" theme, and could be used with older kids to discuss the importance of outreach and love for those that are different from us, but also the solid truth that is unchanging in the Catholic Church.  Intuitive kids will pick up on that ambiguity and might connect with the opinions of secular media about Pope Francis.  At a time such as this, it is so important to pray for the leadership of the Church, and I hope that this book facilitates that response. 
  • Who Was Junipero Serra tells the story of the recently canonized Saint who was a great missionary to the Southwest. This book would be best for older elementary or middle schoolers.  Written by a Californian author, I think kids will enjoy learning about this American priest and advocate.  I liked the simple black and white line drawing illustrations, which remind me of some of the student Saint biography sets published in the 40's and 50's which are so timeless.


*Loyola Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • I gave a thorough review of this on Instagram quite a while ago, but realized that I never posted about it on the blog- and that needed remedied, because this is a great resource!
  • The Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols has great illustrations and detailed explanations great for intermediate and middle school aged kids (And honestly, interesting and relevant for adults wanting to learn more too!).  With almost 200 pages of information on Catholic images ranging from Sacramentals to Marian titles, items used in Mass to Liturgical Season, this book will surely help Catholic kids recognize the beautiful and meaningful symbols that surround us in our Churches.  Art has always been a tool for evangelization and catechesis, and the illustrations and explanations in this text provide a great resource for making the most of the Catholic signs and symbols we see in stained glass windows, statues, and paintings.  This is a solid and well done resource for any home or classroom.
Little Prayers for Little Ones, by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • This super cute board book is a fun new edition to the Pauline Kids selection.  Board books are so nice for babies all the way through preschoolers and make a great addition to Mass bags or nursery book baskets.  Little Prayers for Little Ones features five different styles of prayer (like praise, petition, etc.) with five different "characters" sharing the circumstances for the prayer.
  • The illustrations are really cute, and feature kids of various ethnicities, abilities, and with different family members (moms, dads, grandparents, friends, etc.)  As I mentioned above, I think that it is a great opportunity for kids to see themselves reflected in the pages as they learn to pray.
Saintly Rhymes for Modern Times, by Megan Bausch
  • This sweet picture book has been on my wish list for months, but I finally picked it up at my local Catholic bookstore.  It certainly did not disappoint with it's decoupage style illustrations, cute but informative rhyming poems, and modern Saint selection.  I love the unique style of storytelling the lives of the Saints, and think that it could hold the attention of early elementary age kiddos, but also be a fun read aloud for older kids.
  • While I already wanted to add this book to my classroom library, but also had several people recommend it to me because Fulton Sheen makes an appearance!  See an example of his page below:
  • I also think that this book would be a great inspiration for a poetry writing unit.  Use the book as a mentor text, have the students choose a Saint, and then write their own poem and/or create their own paper cut artwork.  
  • Hopefully there are more to come like this! Wouldn't a series be great!?

The Sword and the Cape: A Tale of Saint Martin of Tours, by Pamela Love
*Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • A vibrantly illustrated short story book about St. Martin of Tours tells the legend of this noble and generous soldier. Best for early elementary kids, the tale shares the famous story of St. Martin sharing half his cloak with a beggar who is actually Jesus in disguise.  The book also includes a historical section and a prayer to St. Martin.  It would be a great story to read to remind kids about the importance of kindness and considering the needs of others, especially through the Corporal Works of Mercy.

So, what's on your to-read list for 2019?