Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Favorite Saint Books for 9-12 Year Olds



I've been asked many times over the years about my favorite books for kids.  More and more, I'm asked about my favorite Saints books.  Recently I pulled together a list of books and emailed it to a reader and then thought...gee...I should probably just post this on the blog. :) Many of these books/series have found their way into previous posts but I've never made a master list.

So, here are some of my favorite Saint books for intermediate kids- I've targeted the age range of 9-12, but of course most of these books would work for older or younger kids.  All of these books get used in my classroom, and I think that they work because I have a variety of lengths and reading levels.  Also, the links I've included with the books are Amazon affiliate links.  What that means is that if after clicking through you make a purchase, I'll get a small percentage at no extra cost to you.  (And then I'll probably just use that to buy more books :) ).  If you are so inclined, I'd be even happier if you supported your local Catholic bookstore by purchasing the books from them.  But regardless, you really should your get your hands on some of these great books!

Probably my most recommended Saint books are from the Pauline Media Encounter the Saints series. Chapter books that are essentially novelized biographies, easy to read but factual and appealing, and the black and white illustration are perfect for the books:
They have dozens of titles, but here are just a few:
Saint Maximilian Kolbe: Mary's Knight (Encounter the Saints) (I use this one every year for a cross curricular unit on St. Max's life you can see here.)
Saint John Paul II: Be Not Afraid (Encounter the Saints)
Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Way of Love (Encounter the Saints Series,16)

These books from Word Among Us Press have beautiful illustrations and more sophisticated accompanying text than your typical picture book:
St. Peter's Story
Saints Tell Their Stories

This illustration of the marriage of Joseph and Mary is lovely:

And here's a different look at the Nativity:

And I love this illustration of St. John at the foot of the cross:

While they might be intended for a slightly younger audience, I (and my students) still love the Saints books illustrated by Tomie de Paola.  You can't go wrong:
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica
Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi

This hefty encyclopedia style book gets flipped through.  I like the photos, classic art, and factual info:


The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Saints


I've recommended the Catholic Story Coloring Books before (we use them to prepare for receiving the Brown Scapular).  They are coloring books, but really contain tons of info in short chapter format- great for getting to know a new Saint and for budding artists:
Our Lady of Guadalupe Coloring Book: A Catholic Story Coloring Book


For compilation books of the Saints I like: 

I also have a ton of the little 20ish page St. Joseph picture books in a basket.  The text is simple, but still carries a lot of info, and could easily be read in one sitting by a 4th-5th grader.  They are nice to have on hand for extra snippets of time that need to be filled:
There are tons of titles in this series, but here is one set that would get you started:
Book of Saints Gift Set (Books 1-12) (St Joseph Picture Book Series) (these are compilation books with one Saint per page)
St. Therese of the Child Jesus (or there are single Saint books that tell their story over about 20 pages)

 If you are looking for something for a more advanced reader or a kid who wants to know more about Saints closer to their age, I would recommend Ablaze and Radiate. Colleen Swain's well written books about daring teen saints include biographies, photos, maps, Scripture verses, practical challenges, and room to journal.  The ten-ish included Saints each get about 15 pages of coverage and the book also has additional resources about some of the tough topics in the books:



Whew!  That's my list.  I hope that this is helpful when shopping for your child or classroom.  
So now, what great books have I left off the list?  Let me know what I am missing out on!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lent: Watch, Read, Listen


Lent- We're one week in.  How's it going?  There's still time, you know.  That's the beauty of this season.  Advent can sometimes fly by in 3 1/2 weeks and before we know it, we have reached the days we've been waiting for.  Lent's length allows us to settle in, to realign, dare I say to even start over when necessary.

Most of this blog is about sharing resources to help you teach the kiddos in your life.  But this post is all for you- the teachers and parents and church workers that can't give what they don't have.  So if you need to go deeper or begin again or already need to recharge, I thought I would share some fruitful things that I have been watching, listening to, and reading during this first week of Lent.

1. Fountains of Carrots podcast with Meg Hunter-Kilmer- Get Inspired for Lent
Need some help entering into the season?  Need some inspiration for why we fast, pray, and give? Need to sit in on a lovely conversation with three awesome ladies?  This is the podcast for you. :)

2. The Significance of Ash Wednesday with Fr. Mike Schmitz.  Loved this explanation of Ash Wednesday:


3. Blessed is She's Lent Devotional Journal & lovely Stations of the Cross cards are guiding my prayer this season.  You can still get a digital download of the journal, and anyone anytime can read the daily devotionals.

4. Ocean Of Mercy- An old but good documentary about God's Mercy and the connections between St. Faustina, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. John Paul II. Watch the first part of the movie here. I watched the full film on Formed, and you can get the DVD here.  It makes me super excited for the Divine Mercy in the Second Greatest Story Ever Told series that is coming out in April!

5. Heart of Mary Women's Fellowship (Free!) printable Lent Study based on the Stations of the Cross and their beautiful printable Stations of the Cross cards.  (A set for my classroom aaannnddd home?  maybe.)

6. If I could recommend one Lenten resolution for every Catholic, it would be to read Scripture daily.  If you are looking for a place to start, follow the daily lectionary.  You'll get 3-4 short readings, usually covering the Old and New Testament, Psalms, and the Gospels-it's the perfect combination.  You can always easily find the readings using the calendar on the USCCB website.  You also can read both the Scripture and a daily devotion from Blessed is She (even sent straight to your inbox!) or you could use a guide like this.

7. And if you are just looking some tunes to listen to in the car or while washing dishes, I'd like to share my Lent song playlist with you.  Music sets the tone for my work, so I always find it helpful to choose songs and artists that fit the way I want to pray.


Be assured of my prayers for you this Lent!


"We can think of Lent as a time to eradicate evil or cultivate virtue.  A time to pull up weeds or plant good seeds.  Which is better is clear for the Christian idea is always positive rather than negative." ~Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (read the rest of the reflection here)




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Everything Lent: Activities for 40 Days



Keep the praying/giving/fasting going for all 40 days of Lent with some of these activities:

Click on the pictures below to go to the original post with instructions and printables.

Videos for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter:


Song Playlist for Lent:


What Lent Looks Like Printable:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMYjg4U0lWMW5GZWM/view?usp=sharing

What the Triduum Looks Like:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ETRkL51fhMaU44NkJCTDhQSUk/view?usp=sharing

Sunset & Shadow Stations of the Cross Art Project:


Lent Notes Foldable:
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2014/03/lent-notes-foldable.html

Lent Word Cloud printable:
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2014/03/lent-word-cloud.html


Give Up & Take Up youth lesson on Lenten Sacrifices.
***This post also contains links to some of my favorite Lenten videos and online resources for teens.
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2015/02/lent-youth-group-lessons-links-and.html

Youth Group lesson connecting the Stations of the Cross and Lenten acts of mercy:
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2014/03/using-stations-of-cross-as-inspiration.html

Using the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for Lenten prayer, fasting, and giving:



Youth Group lesson connection the Passover and the Passion, using the movie Prince of Egypt:

The Gospel in an Eggshell: Connecting the infant Christ with the Christ that died to give us eternal life- great especially as we have such a short time between Christmas and Lent.
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2012/02/gospel-in-eggshell.html

 Ideas for making your own Resurrection Eggs, which are great to tell the story of Holy Week:
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2012/02/get-ready-for-lent.html

New Life Seed Printable:
Great for making the connection to "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it bears no fruit."  Plant the seeds, see them die, have flowers by Easter!
http://looktohimandberadiant.blogspot.com/2012/03/new-life-seeds.html

Linking Up with Blessed is She's Weekly Lenten Link Up. Go visit for more awesome resources and reflections on the season!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

From Kids For Kids: Practical Ideas for the Works of Mercy


Each year I try to find creative ways to invite my students into the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  The trouble is that the normal suggestions for adults are not always practical for kids- they often are not in control of things like their own finances, time, and travel.  So I asked my students- How can YOU give and pray and fast this Lent?

Because it is the Year of Mercy, I knew that I wanted to frame their suggestions around the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  The kids worked hard over the course of two days to come up with a list of practical ways kids could live out the works of mercy.  I took their great ideas and organized them a bit into a printable for each set of works of mercy.


Then, because a dear friend gave me this stellar bobble head of Pope Francis (because what Catholic classroom doesn't need a Pope bobble head???), I was able to set up this little "Lenten Acts of Mercy" station in our classroom.  Posted are the two lists created by the kids.  They are being challenged each week to live out one of the Corporal and one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  This is pretty perfect since there are just about seven weeks in Lent :)

I added two jars labeled for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, red beads in a bowl, and a sign saying "Be merciful as your Father is merciful." When they feel as though they have performed an act of mercy, they can add a bead to the jar.  There are no goals, no counting, no prizes, etc.  I told the kids I had no plan for how long it would take to fill up a jar, and if they did fill one, we would empty it and start all over again.  Too often kids (and adults) are caught up in the what's-in-it-for-us mentality.  This is just a gathering place for some accountability and reminders about our project- a little action that will help make the invisible visible. :)


You could try something like this yourself in your classroom or home.  This lists can be printed below, both with our ideas as a list or blank so you can fill in your own.  The USCCB has some great lists for the Corporal Works of Mercy and the Spiritual Works of Mercy you should check out as well.

 Click here for the Corporal Works of Mercy List:
 Click here for the Corporal Works of Mercy blank page:

 Click here for the Spiritual Works of Mercy List:
 Click here for the Spiritual Works of Mercy blank page:

You might also like these Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy coloring pages and mini books: