Children’s Books: Three new ones from Ascension Press
One of our family’s beloved routines was rotating books to match the weather and seasons, the holidays and the Liturgical Year, both saints and feast days. I supplemented our own personal library with books from our local library. Every month I would refresh the choices to reflect the different saints and change of liturgical seasons. I designated one basket to hold the monthly rotation, and these would be available for free choice reading, read at bedtime together, or some would be in our church bag, especially when they were younger.
With my sons being in college and high school, we aren’t reading picture books together, but I continue to rotate books for the children in my CGS Atrium. These books are available for personal reading and sometimes read aloud.
Ascension Press has a few newer titles for children that could be added into the rotation, and I’m reviewing three of them today.
For Lent, they have a new title, Louie’s Lent written by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, illustrated by Michael Rogers. The story unfolds in a Catholic school with the teacher (who is a Dominican sister) helping guide her students on what Lent is all about. She says it is “a time for us to change who we are on the inside” and a time to follow and imitate Jesus.
Different children talk about their different habits they are giving up for Lent: no video games, no candy, being on time for school, etc. But Louie cannot think of anything to work on. The book unfolds the season of Lent with Louie still undecided, but working in different ways helping his classmates. At the end of Lent, Sister checks in to see how everyone did.
Louie never made one commitment to give up things, but had a daily commitment to help his fellow classmates. Sister points out that Lent is more than just giving up things and habits. Jesus died for all of us, and wants us to be like Him. Doing things for others is doing things for Jesus. And that is what Louie had been doing, and he is feeling like he did grasp how to live a good Lent.
Because the story is depicted in a traditional Catholic school, children who homeschool, attend public school or private schools without uniforms might have questions about the setting. Not as many children have seen religious sisters in full habits, so that is another point of interest.
It’s a straightforward story with concrete examples on how to approach Lent as children, and the images are attractive and inviting. I think it would be a good book for Lenten rotation.
The second book is The Real
Presents Presence written by Claudia Cangilla McAdam and illustrated by Gina Capaldi.
The story is placed during Jesus’ time, featuring two cousins, a girl Abigail and boy Zedekiah, whose families were followers of Jesus. The cousins are ordinary children who are naturally competitive. They vie over who is better, stronger, faster, etc. but they also have a repeating argument: which is better, the grapes grown by Abigail’s family or the wheat grain harvested by Zedekiah’s family?
The story unfolds observing Jesus and His teachings and miracles to help them in this decision. They end up being the family that owned the Upper Room, so the cousins were serving table at the Last Supper and could witness the bread and wine changed by Jesus into His own Body and Blood. The children’s hearts pondered and understood.
The book presents the Eucharist within the context of the Gospel and it is lovely to provide the historical and cultural context to elementary age children. They can enter in the Gospel scene and contemplate it more fully.
I would include this for children preparing for their First Communion but it would be appealing to children at about ages 6-10.
MY FIRST INTERACTIVE MASS BOOK
The final book is My First Interactive Mass Book written by Jennifer Sharp and illustrated by Candace Camling. It is an 8 1/2” square board book with lifting flaps, tracing and spinning the wheel. It is labeled for ages 3+. The illustrations are very appealing; they are colorful and realistic. The whole Mass is presented, but the book also includes some pages to help identify articles of the Mass and explain the liturgical colors for the chasubles.
Although not marked as such, the book is a child’s missal, following the whole Mass, providing the text of all the people’s responses. It is well-done, with small prayers and explanations on each page besides the liturgy of the Mass.
The book is suggested for beginning with toddlers, but I think there is more written content that would appeal to 6-9 year olds. I think it would be wonderful as a child’s missal for older children and not a board book.
For families that have multiple ages, this book will be great to pack for church for the toddlers, but their other children would definitely love to read it, too. I also think it is a perfect fit for children who are preparing to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. They are learning more about the Mass, and this checks all the boxes but with an attractive and engaging approach.
I’m always on the hunt to add new titles to our book rotation, so I’m grateful that Ascension Press is aiming at books for children.
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