Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Katie Reads {9}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a stack of faith-filled books for my students, including a few of their new favorite graphic novels.  I'm way behind on Katie Reads Posts, but I'd still I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments!

(FYI- 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.)

The Shadow of His Wings, A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, by Max Temesou, {A}

  • Fr. Goldmann was a seminarian in Germany at the beginning on WWII and was drafted into Hitler's SS.  This graphic novel biography (based on his autobiography by the same name) tells of dangerous and unbelievable events during the war that lead to his continued formation, secret ordination, and ministry to Catholics during a time when openly sharing one's faith often led to death.  
  • The first half of the book covers Goldmann's service during the war and imprisonment after.  It is followed by a text epilogue covering the events of the rest of his life as well as dozens of photographs and primary sources.  The novel also includes a section with the script and sketches for the making of the graphic novel, which would be awesome for aspiring little authors.
  • Graphic novels and WWII are both perpetually popular content in my classroom library, so I knew this would be a winner among my 5th graders.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as well, and now need to borrow the original book from my dad.  The life of Fr. Goldmann gives us a different perspective of the good that triumphed during a terrible time in world history, the profound power of prayer, and the guidance and protection found in the shadow of His wings.

The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero, by Patricia McCormick, {A}

  • Following the above book, I was excited to see this biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Scholastic Book Order! Giving insight into the life and decisions made by Bonhoeffer as he and his companions quietly did all they could to undermine and reveal the evil of the Nazi regime, this page turner also contains personal photographs and info to give context to the time period.
  • Like The Shadow of His Wings, I think this book would make a solid addition to middle school library, helping promote critical thought and decision making about a time period where evil was prevalent but many desired peace and truth.   

Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children, by Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children in exchange for an honest review.

  • This sweet but solid book about Mary is beautifully illustrated and filled with the story of the Blessed Virgin Mary's life, based on Scripture and Tradition.  Organized in chapters and over sixty pages long, this brand new book fills a need for content about Our Lady for older elementary students.  
  • Many picture books are written at a lower level and have smaller snippets of information.  I love that this book has more substantial information while still being illustrated and attainable.  Along with stories of Mary's life, also included are summaries of several Marian apparitions and information about how to pray the Rosary.

Be Yourself, A Journal for Catholic Girls, by Amy Brooks, {A}
The author provided me with a copy of Be Yourself, A Journal for Catholic Girls in exchange for an honest review.

  • Capturing the attention of young Catholics can be a difficult task, and helping them develop time and habits for personal prayer can be even more challenging.  The Be Yourself journal would be a perfect gift to encourage the prayer and devotion of any preteen or teenage girl.  The graphics and design are trendy and eye-catching, but they share solid content and faith-filled resources.  
  • The journal is filled with some full color text and illustrations, but also plenty of black and white space for coloring, doodling, and decorating by the user. It contains inspirational quotes and Scripture, coloring pages, journal starters, Q&A pages, list making pages, and reflections.  I think that my favorite feature is the Saint letters- written to the reader from the perspective of powerhouse Saints, they share biographical info, but also advice and encouragement that relates and connects to every day life.  
  • With plenty of space for creativity, the journal can be worked through in any order.  Even when it has been read and filled, I think Be Yourself would encourage the young lady to use journaling and study as part of her prayer.  It would also make a great gift- I plan to share mine with a former student who has asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor. :)

St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernadette, and St. Joan of Arc Graphic Novels, {A}

  • The Saint graphic novels reviewed here remain the most passed around books in my classroom (they still go from kid to kid, rarely making it back on the shelf), so I decided to gift my class with a few new titles for Christmas.   I added two more manga style novels (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Philip Neri) to the set, as well as the books pictured above.  
  • These books are shorter in length but with larger pages and more traditional comic book style illustrations.  I like that they are a quick introduction to the most important aspects of that Saints life.  They are great for my students to read in small snippets throughout the day, and are enjoyed by all my students, but sometimes most especially by my lower or reluctant readers.  I'm glad to have these as a resource to share with them these inspiring and strong heroes of the faith.  

The Life of Jesus, by Alex Ben, {A+}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of The Life of Jesus in exchange for an honest review.

  • Hands down, this is the favorite book I've added to my classroom library this year.  The Life of Jesus is a Graphic Novel which is stunningly illustrated with impeccable detail.  Chronicling Jesus' Incarnation from Birth through Ascension, it helps make the stories of Scripture come to life in a way that is relatable and attainable for my students.
  • Including quotes and captions paired with colorful, comic book style stories, this book would be a memorable read for any intermediate or middle schooler.  Each page also lists the direct Scripture References to each story.  The book is broken into themed chapters and has a great table of contents to help you find just the story you'd like to read.  I'd love to see a companion graphic novel covering the Acts of the Apostles!

Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale, {B+}

  • This happy thrift store hardback find earned a place in our Christmas book basket.  It pairs the lyrics of the song Good King Wenceslas with beautiful illustrations bringing the story to life.  There is a bit of back story as to the history of this Saint, but I would have like to have seen more info about him paired alongside the song.  The pictures carry the story and remind us of the generosity, kindness, and selflessness that are so important not only at Christmas, but all throughout the year.

  • I do not know why it took me so long to add this book to my collection, but now that I've read it, the truly gorgeous illustrations and sweet storytelling melts my heart.  It captures a love for the life of our dear St. Pope John Paul II, showing how his unwavering devotion to God and the Church changed the world.  Sharing Karol's life from his birth until his election to the papacy, the author captures his wonder, hope, and love, even in the midst of the many tragedies of his young life. The rich details captured in her incredible illustrations carry the narrative as strongly as the actual text.  I'm so excited to share this book with my students and classes to come.
  • Maybe Fabiola Garza and Pauline Books and Media will be adding more collaborations like this one to their titles?  What Saints would you like to see them work together on?

Which of these books would you most like to read?  What is on your To-Be-Read Stack?

You might like these other Katie Reads posts:
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}
Katie Reads {6}
Katie Reads {7}
Katie Reads {8}


  1. Great book suggestions! Thank you.

  2. I love The Story of Saint John Paul II! It's one of my favorite children's books. I'm looking forward to reading some of your other recommendations as well. I originally thought that I would add some to my kids' Easter baskets but now I'm thinking I'll gift them on Ash Wednesday so they can read them during Lent.

    1. Hi Cheryl! That's a great idea! They can walk through Lent with some new Saint friends!

  3. Katie, I just wanted to pop in and say how much I appreciate your posts, especially your book suggestions. One of my daughters is in 5th grade, and I think a couple of these will be in her Easter basket. :) Also I've commented before, I teach preschoolers when the Christ the King sisters come to our parish to teach the older kids in the summer, and I've used several of your activities. A mom was just telling me this week how much they still like their Resurrection Eggs! Thanks again -

    1. Hi Lenetta! So glad the book suggestions are helpful! I'll have a post with some great new books for Lent coming up soon! And so wonderful that they still love the Resurrection Eggs. :) Hope your Lent has been fruitful!