Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Katie Reads {12} Back to School

Summer may have flown by, but one thing I made sure to do a lot of this summer was read.  I'd love to share with you some of the things I've been reading and maybe you'll see one that will be a good fit for your home or classroom.  This week's edition of Katie Reads features books for kids, and next week I'll share the books I read for myself. :)

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***Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
###Author 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. :)

Staircase for the Sisters by Pamela Love, Illustrated bu John Joseph. ***
  • This sweet picture book retells the holy legend of an impossible staircase being built in a new church for a group of Sisters in New Mexico.  After praying a novena to St. Joseph, a mysterious carpenter visited and built an miraculous spiral staircase.  The carpenter left without receiving his pay or leaving his name, so tradition holds that St. Joseph himself built the staircase.
  • Included at the end of the book are pages about the real Loretto Chapel staircase in Santa Fe, info about St. Joseph, an explanation of a novena, and a novena to St. Joseph.
  • A perfect book for St. Joseph day or an introduction to novenas and answered prayer, I love how the author and illustrator worked together to tell this inspiring tradition that shows devotion to St. Joseph the Worker.

God's Plan for You: Life, Love, Marriage, & Sex by David Hajduk ***

  • This new revised edition of God's Plan for You is a perfect handbook for teens as a tool to help them understand that they were created by love and for love.  It breaks St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body into bite sized pieces while retaining depth.  Beginning with the foundations of the goodness of the body, the purpose of creation, and complementarity of male & female, it then moves into tougher topics like contraception, homosexuality, and cohabitation.
  • The text itself can be heavy, but is broken up by quotes from Scripture, Catechism references, "Did U Know?" facts, Notable Quotables, JP2 in his own words, and closes each chapter with several questions to ponder and share.  Those questions would lend themselves perfectly for families who want to read this with their teen and then dive into the material of the text without being stuck with vague open ended questions like, "So what did you think of this chapter?..."
  • The only thing lacking in my opinion is a good index.  This is the kind of book that a teen (or an adult supporting a teen) probably isn't going to read cover to cover, but might like to pick up and read about a specific topic.  There is a Table of Contents, but the titles are short quips related to the content, so it takes some flipping to find a certain topic.  Overall though, this is a fabulous and approachable resource for introducing Theology of the Body.
Fun with Angels by D. Thomas Halpin, FSP and Illustrated by Virginia Helen Richards, FSP ***

  • Who doesn't love a fun coloring and activity book?  This new one from the Pauline Kids line features stories about Angels from both the Old and New Testaments, as well as how the angels are present in our daily lives.  Coloring pages are mixed in with activity pages of all kinds, and the paper is nice and smooth for using your favorite art supplies.
  • Kids always seem to be fascinated by angels, so I love that so many stories and devotions are gathered right in one kid friendly activity book. 

Who is Jesus: His Life, His Land, His Time by Gaelle Tertrais and Adeline Avril

  • I am thoroughly in love with this book! I saw it recommended in several places online, and knew that it would be a lovely addition to my classroom resources.  I am even more impressed after reading through it.  First, I love the infographic style illustrations that are both simple and sweet without being too childish, printed in a uniform color scheme on thick matte paper.  The Jr. Highers in my class will not think this books looks too juvenile for them, which is half the battle.
  • This book is full of information about life in the Holy Land during Jesus' time.  Its maps and diagrams all support the text as it tells about the culture, religious customs, food, hobbies, and more of Jesus' people.  The first unit I'll be teaching this year is literally titled "Who is Jesus," so I know that this is going to become a frequently referenced text.  It also helps satiate some of the curiosity we might have (or questions we've never thought of!) like what was Jesus' house like?  What kind of food did He eat? What did the disciples wear?  Why were the Romans in the Holy Land?  
  • Understanding this historical context is going to help bring the Scriptures alive, I have no doubt.

To Hear His Voice by Ginny Kochis ###

  • In my next Katie Reads post, I'm going to highlight the Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal and talk about how it has been the best tool I've added to my spiritual arsenal this year.  All of the things I love about ESS can also be found in this new Mass journal from Ginny Kochis, but for kids! 
  • Published in a quarterly format, this edition of the journal covers September through November.  It includes the full text of the Mass readings from every Sunday, but could totally be used every day throughout the week because of all of the additional resources and prompts.  
  • Each week includes a list of the upcoming Feast Days, a large corresponding Saint quote perfect for decorating, all four Mass Readings, specific reflection questions for each reading, a mediation, and several "go forth" challenges.  All are relevant to the teen/preteen that would use the journal and pull them back to the meaning of the Scriptures without feeling at all like a workbook. The "God's Turn" & "Your Turn" structure is such a neat way to reinforce prayer as a conversation and relationship.
  • I love the size of this journal- it is a full 8 1/2" x 11", so the text is nice and big and there is ample room for notes, prayers, doodles, lists, etc.  That white space is so important for kids as we give them tools to pray- this is a perfect guide with just enough structure but tons of flexibility for kids with different gifts, talents, and interests.  
  • It would make a great gift for your child or Godchild to use during Mass but also all throughout the week. I also could see using it in a classroom (a class set would be incredible!) but if only one is available, the students could use it as a resource to read the Scriptures out loud and then choose some of the meditations or reflections for group discussion.  It's a needed  and well made resource for keeping our older kids engaged in the Mass.

The Church Rocks! A History of the Catholic Church for Kids and Their Parents and Teachers by Mary Lea Hill, FSP ***

  • This is such a fun and approachable history text of the story of the Church from the time of Christ up until the the New Evangelization era of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.  I could see it being used as an actual textbook for a Church history unit, but also will serve well as a resource for any upper elementary or middle school classroom. 
  • There is an index at the end of the book for those looking up a specific event or era, but conveniently the book is broken into 21 chapters for the 21 Centuries of the Church.  Want to read about the Roman Martyrs in the 3rd Century?  Turn to Chapter 3.
  • I think my only criticism of the book is the cover- the design and font are not nearly as appealing as the design of the interior of the book.  Once opened, it is attractive and compelling, and I think will be a page turner for a lot of kids- but first they have to pick it up.  It also would be lovely to have the interior, especially the art, printed in color.
  • I wanted to show you a snapshot of the inside pages.  While the whole book is in black and white, it is chock full of holy art, drawings, photographs, timelines, info boxes, etc. making it really fun to flip through. Info also includes Saints and leaders of the times, inventions, what was happening around the world, and more:

That's it for now!  I'll be back soon with all of the fiction and non fiction I read for myself this summer, but first I need to get back to setting up my classroom for my incoming students. :)  Be assured of my prayers for all of you getting ready to kick off a new school year!


  1. Great recommendations! Looking forward to using a few in my class. I really enjoyed your sweeter than honey Psalm pages last year. Could you share how you made those? Thanks!

    1. Hi Amy! I'm glad you liked them! I just made them in Publisher :)