Thursday, April 29, 2021

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue: Tons of Ideas for Celebrating Mary in May!

In honor of this month of Our Lady, I've collected a whole series of posts with tons of ideas for teaching kids about Mary- and through her, modeling Christian life, prayer, generosity, and virtue.

Click on any of the pictures below to take you to a post with more info, ideas, printables, and pictures.

Easily sharable collection of over 30 free activities:

Names of Mary Bookmarks:

Marian Digital Scavenger Hunt (Editable & Google Classroom Ready):

Make Your Own Marian Shrine/May Crowning in color:

and Black & White:

Marian Apparition Investigation:

Seven Sorrows of Mary Scriptural Reflection:

Our Lady of Loreto Digital Scavenger Hunt (Google Forms):

Marian Music Playlist:

Favorite Books About Mary:

Hail Mary Sort Cards:

Angelus Mini Book:

Regina Coeli Mini Book:

Holy Family Hearts Coloring Page and Prayer Cards:

Immaculate Heart of Mary Coloring Pages and Prayer Cards:

Immaculate Heart of Mary and Seven Sorrows Coloring Page:

Mary as the Moon Coloring Page:

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Coloring Page:

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Retreat:

My Soul Magnifies the Lord Theme:

Marian Bulletin Board:

Mary, Mother of the Church Feast Day

Mary Garden Plant Labels:

Mini Mary Flipbooks:

Notebook Marian Shrine:

Marian Prayers Flipbook:

Marian Typology Info Cards:

Mary & Discipleship Youth Bible Study:

Family Marian Shrine:

World Mission Rosary:

Brown Scapular Resources:

Lovely Lady, dressed in blue, teach me how to pray.
God was just your little boy, and you know the way.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Katie Reads {26}

Yay for new books! I've got a stack to share today- starting with picture books, then books for older kids, and then some recommendations for adults too. Check out all of my Katie Reads Posts under this tab, and my growing list of Books for Catholic Kids 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.
I also highly encourage you to buy directly from the publisher or from your local Catholic bookstore! 
+++Emmaus Road Publishing provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
***Pauline Books and Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
^^^Tan Books 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.
%%% Ignatius Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
=== Word on Fire 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. 

Maura's books are among the first kids' books I recommended here on the blog, and she remains one of my favorites. You can read an interview I did with her in this post. Saved by the Lamb is the newest edition to the Old and New series, the finest children's books on Biblical Typology I've seen. They connect the Old and New Testaments in a beautiful and accessible way, with side by side parallels and vivid illustrations. This book shows how Moses prefigured Jesus with rich, deep connections in both the words and images. Simple enough to be enjoyed by young children, it also presents a complex topic that can be impacted by older kids. 

Books for littles on the topic of prayer- actually teaching them ABOUT and HOW to pray- are few and far between. Katie Warner is another favorite Catholic children's book author (she's interviewed in this post too!) and her new book Listening for God is stellar. It combines the story of Elijah listening for the still small voice of God, incorporates interactive movement, relates it back to the kid audience, and has a great note for parents and teachers. It's wonderful!

Did you know Tomie dePaola illustrated one of Caryll Houselander's books? Tomie was a beloved author from my childhood and I am so grateful that his work is being published for a new generation. Petook was written by Houselander (I love her book Reed of God) and tells a unique Easter story which helps connect the symbolism of Easter eggs to the empty tomb. This is a classic you could use year after year during Holy Week and the Easter Season. 

This super fun nonfiction is about awesome Catholic "mysteries" like incorrupt Saints, Eucharistic miracles, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Loretto staircase, and more. It's high interest and perfect for engaging late elementary to middle schoolers. I love the fact file style interior layout which includes photographs, history, explanations, and definitions. It's a great way to share some of the incredible but true marvels of our faith, and how they can point us back to our all powerful God.

### On a Mission to Love: Rosary Flash Cards- Debbie Staresinic
The On a Mission to Love book is my top recommendation as a tool for praying the Rosary with kids (and honestly adults too!) and now she has created a boxed set of Rosary flash cards too! I can see lots of ways this might by more convenient for families- just pull out the Mystery you are ready to pray, or in a classroom- it would make a wonderful interactive display. The cards are in a sturdy storage box and include info on how to pray the Rosary as well as an individual card for each Mystery with lovely art and an aspiration to use on each of the ten Hail Marys. 

This is a lovely new edition of a resource book I frequently use in my classroom. I love the new covers and think the 1-2 page Saint summaries are perfect for reading aloud to introduce kids to our friends in Heaven. There is a Saint biography for each day of the year featuring a wide variety of Saints and Blesseds from around the world.

I actually haven't read this one yet, but really liked the first book in the series (this is book 2 of 5). Set in Rome under the reign of Diocletian the series features a group of young Christians as main characters. At 220 pages and based on the readability, I'd recommend it for 6th and up. I think they'd be perfect for kids who like high adventure or who enjoy reading about Greek/Roman mythology. This series could pull them into the true stories from the first centuries of Christianity that are so much more exciting!

%%% Louis and Zélie: The Holy Parents of Saint Thérèse- Ginamarie Tennant 
A few months ago I was talking with a coworker about the need for books for kids about the Martins, highlighting the variety of Vocations lived out and the universal call to holiness. That very week I saw this book advertised and I was so excited! This new addition to the Vision Books series from Ignatius Press, which are awesome for middle schoolers. I read this one (260 pages) in just a couple of sittings and enjoyed the retelling of Louis and Zélie's life, starting with each of their childhoods and continuing though their businesses, marriage, and parenting. The author included facts researched from Zélie's own letters to help form this biographical novel.

***30 Days with Married Saints: A Catholic Couples Devotional- Kent and Caitlin Lasnoski 
Speaking of married Saints, but switching to some books for adults, this new devotional would be a perfect gift for engaged couples or as an anniversary present for your spouse. Highlighting a variety of married Saints and the attributes of the marriages that helped them grow in sanctity, I liked the included biographies as well as the every-day-life connections. I passed this on to my sister and her husband and I think that it would make a great read for couple to grow not only closer together but also closer to Christ.

The Sacred Heart is a favorite devotion of mine, so when I heard that Pope John Paul II, one of my very favorite Saints, had spoken on the Litany of the Sacred Heart in a series of his Angelus Addresses AND that they had been collected into a book, I had to find a copy! Fortunately used books are my jam and I found an old copy- usually my local second hand stores, but when I need something specific I like Thrift Books. Have you tried them before? I know they are not new, but if you want to give them a try, feel free to use this code to get a 15% off coupon! I have found some great books that are out of print, or just good prices on paperbacks that I don't mind a bit being used. The prices are great, especially if you watch things on your wishlist, orders total to give you free shipping, and points add up quickly to give you free books. My only complaint is about the stickers they use for their inventory system- they stick them on the spine and they are hard to remove! ;) I have very strong opinions about stickers on books!

Cardinal Van Thuan served his people in Vietnam with great love, but after his arrest by Communists in 1975, there seemed little he could do to lead them. During his thirteen years of terrible imprisonment, Cardinal Van Thuan found creative ways to pray, communicate, and care for his people. Writing on tiny scraps of paper, celebrating Mass with mere drops of wine, and developing an entirely new appreciation for the virtue of hope, he stored up his experiences and shared them after his release in 1988. I enjoyed reading this book, which pulls together snippets of his writings with new introductions from the author himself. I think that I would like to read one of his other more robust books to dive a little deeper into the wisdom he has to share, but this was a great introduction to a valiant man and future Saint.

=== The Rosary- Bishop Robert Barron
This is a gorgeous new Rosary set from Word on Fire, complete with a booklet and olive wood Rosary, would make a great gift for Confirmands and graduates. It includes classic art and a reflection from Bishop Barron, and seems like something that universal enough to be meaningful to all, yet rich enough to be used over and over. It would be a great tool to have on your prayer shelf or tucked in your Adoration bag.

My most requested review topic is adult fiction- which is probably the genre I share the least! :) Mostly because I think fiction is so much harder to recommend- Catholic non-fiction works more universally, whereas fiction is much more subjective. I read lots of different types of fiction, and this author is new-to-me in the Biblical fiction category. I liked this series (don't you love finding a completed series, so you don't have to wait for the next book to come out!) enough that I blew through all three during Spring Break. Set during the years of Exodus, each book tells the story of a woman who witnessed the momentous true events of Scripture woven into a fictional story. The first main character is an Egyptian whose heart is softened to the God of the Hebrews and faces a decision when the ten plagues strike Egypt. The second book is set in the months immediately following, pulling from the few events written and imaging what the Israelites would have faced during the early days as God formed them into a new nation. The final book in this trilogy fast forwards to just before the entrance into the Promised Land. I always take Biblical fiction with grain (or cup) of salt, but these stories remain true to what is actually written in the book of Exodus while using a creative story to help us imagine the people not recorded in the stories. I have a harder time when a novel tries to voice the thoughts of a "known" person in Scripture, sharing insight that the author doesn't have. They were light page-turners and a nice mental break- I'm off to try the next series, based around the Levitical Cities of Refuge in the Promised Land.

Chloe's popular podcast by the same title invites listeners to reflect on the many ways the feminine genius can be lived out in vast and varied ways. This book is a collection of thirty letters from women from all vocations, experiences, and backgrounds- there is something that every woman could connect to and more to learn from. I think that this would make a great book club book or friend group read- it might be the starting point to deep conversations on the beautiful differences and abiding similarities that is found in womanhood. (And I'm honored to have recently joined Chloe on her podcast, talking about the truth, goodness, and beauty that can be share in Catholic education and catechesis!)

This gorgeous, large, leatherette book is more than I expected! Sometimes with daily reflection books you get a short little paragraph and a lot of empty space- not so with this new collection. Deep and thorough reflections are a page or two long and derived from wisdom of Saints, Church Fathers, Popes, Mystics, etc. Liturgically organized, the authors also provide a brief introduction for each Saint/reading. Enough to be substantial but brief enough to be easily readable, I look forward to using this as a tool to grow in devotion and dwell in the richness of the gift of the Blessed Sacrament.

Last year I reread A Wrinkle in Time for the first time as an adult, and then realized that L'Engle had written a lot more than I remembered from my middle school library days. I'm currently reading this reflection on writing and the connection of faith and art.  It's been an interesting read so far, and I think good for my brain to take a step back and consider something that muses on beauty. My non fiction book stack typically is about more of the "what" and this certainly is a "why." Have you read any of Madeleine L'Engle's books for adults?

Through the Heart of St. Joseph- Fr. Boniface Hicks
Bring on the Year of St. Joseph! I've recommended Consecration to St. Joseph to so many people. Now I'm so glad to see a few new books popping up on our spiritual father and the role he has in the church today. I'm just starting this one, but am liking it so far. In Consecration to St. Joseph my favorite part was reading what the Saints have written about Joseph over the centuries but peppering in those quotes with Fr. Calloway's writing does make the book a little more choppy. In Fr. Hick's book, I hope to dive a little deeper, praying and learning through the heart of St. Joseph.

I'll admit, I'm not big on self-help books. If I'm going to read something on personal growth, it has to be rooted in the truth the truth or Christ, encouraging virtue while turning away from sin- and it can't be fluffy. I'm about halfway through this short read and it is exceeding my expectations on all those counts. Originally published in the mid 1800s, Fr. Faber's writing is wise and deep, but still accessible. Many of the things I'm underlining as I read will be good to take to prayer and serve as an examination of conscience. It's been republished in this nice little hardback, providing an edition that you can pull off the shelf again and again.

=== Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church- Brandon Vogt
I'm a cradle Catholic. While I had a lot of seeking and questions and growing to choose the Church as my own, I'm so grateful for the faith I was raised in. When I returned from college and get back involved at my home parish, I was a bit of a novelty among the other volunteers and Bible study groups and daily Mass go-ers. Many asked me why I stayed, what kept me there when so many young adults have walked away. And most specifically, I've heard story after story from my friends about their children or grandchildren who seem to have no faith. I think that Brandon Vogt's book (published in this lovely new edition by Word on Fire) is what I will recommend to them in the future. Covering everything from myths and objections to conversation starters and tips to equip yourself, the book has an incredibly practical structure. While designed for parents of fallen away Catholics, I think that anyone working in ministry or outreach could benefit from the insight.

And finally, I know I've shared my book with you, but this is the first Katie Reads post where I actually had a copy in my hands! So I had to give it a spot in this list. Don't forget, I also have a whole set of free resources to support the book, help you pray with Scripture, and enter into the Liturgical Year! If you have been using the book, I always appreciate hearing your feedback, and am so grateful for your reviews on Amazon- even if you purchases elsewhere, anyone can review on Amazon and helps others find the book and know if it will be a good fit for their home/classroom. Thank you!