On Barb’s Bookshelf: Easter Basket Special

Barb Easter Basket Special

Around this time of year, you’ll find articles listing ideas for ways to fill Easter baskets with just about anything but candy. Suggestions usually include play clay, sidewalk chalk, bottles of bubbles, super-bouncy balls, and other small toys. This week I even saw an article showing a basket’s worth of extras and accessories for children with diabetes. As the parent of a teen with diabetes, I do not advise giving anything that resembles medical supplies as a holiday gift.

I have nothing against candy, but I always look for something to tuck into the basket (or gift bag, now that my kids are older) along with the Peeps, jelly beans, and peanut butter eggs. Here are five options: picture books, a chapter book, a fun family activity book, and coloring books for teens and grownups.

Picture Books

when I pray

When I Pray for You by Matthew Paul Turner and illustrated by Kimberley Barnes (WaterBrook) is a picture book with rhyming text that would make a beautiful bedtime story. The book is not specifically Catholic, but it’s all about prayer — specifically, the many, many ways parents pray for their children. The illustration style is really cute and engaging, and the message of the book is wonderful.

Father Ben Gets Ready for Mass

Father Ben gets ready for Mass by Katie Warner and illustrated by Meg Whalen (TAN Books) offers an interactive peek at what priests do before Mass. Children are familiar with their own family’s pre-Mass routines, so this is a valuable perspective on what priests do. As in any picture book, the details matter, and that really shows in this story: on the cover, Father Ben is walking to church with a rosary in his hand. Because this book calls for the reader to make the sound of a church bell and sing “Alleluia,” this might not be the book to bring to church with you — but it’s a great Sunday-morning read if you have time before the flurry of getting dressed and having breakfast.

For Independent Readers

anna goes to a party

Anna Goes to a Party and Learns About the Mass by Gabriele Krämer-Kost and illustrated by Tanja Husmann (Pauline Books & Media) is a chapter book especially appropriate for children preparing for their First Communion. Eight-year-old Anna’s family doesn’t go to church much except on holidays, and she’s nervous about receiving the Sacrament because she doesn’t know what to do. A family celebration provides the occasion for Anna to consult her godmother about Mass and what happens there. The same family party becomes a comparison tool for Anna’s godmother as she explains the various elements of Mass and how they fit into the celebration. Cute, retro-style illustrations remind me of the “Ramona” books I enjoyed as a child. The last section of the book takes the reader step by step through the whole Mass.

Fun for the Whole Family

catholic funny fill ins

Remember “Mad Libs”? Karen and Tommy Tighe’s riff on the road-trip game, Catholic Funny Fill-Ins (Pauline Books & Media), takes an old favorite one better by mixing in a fun fact at the end of each page — and making it part of the game! Woven into the stories are mentions of prayer, saints, sacraments, feast days, and ways to help others. It’s fun and creative, and helps children review the parts of speech. This book and a pencil are all you need to pass the time during travel, in a waiting room, or even in a restaurant while you wait for your meal.

For Tweens, Teens, and Grownups

jesus speaks to you

Coloring-book fans of all ages will enjoy Veruschka Guerra’s Easter-themed Jesus Speaks to You: A Coloring Book for Prayer and Meditation. Scripture quotes accompany each coloring spread, and a section at the back of the book is designed on one side only so the pages can be cut out and framed or given as gifts. The book is made with thick, quality paper so colors won’t bleed through. Guerra’s intricate art is beautiful to look at, even before you color the pages!

staedtler triplus 36

And if you’re giving a coloring book, you can’t miss by adding some coloring pens to go with it! My favorites are the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. You’ll find them in packs of 6 on up to 50. These pens last a long time, don’t smear, and won’t roll off the table. (You can use them for your bullet journal too!)


Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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On Barb’s Bookshelf: Back-to-School Reads from Pauline Books

As the summer winds down and the school year begins, it’s time to look at some books for readers of all ages from Pauline Books and Media. I’ve organized these by age, beginning with one for the bedtime-story set.

beginnings
Beginnings by Lori Ann Watson is an excellent read-aloud for the start of a school year. Capitalizing on young children’s fascination with the natural world, Watson shows the beginnings of such diverse things as flowers, rivers, trees, butterflies, rainstorms and baby birds, then concludes with a child’s own beginning: God giving a child to a family, where the baby grows within the mother’s womb and then is born. This book carries a beautiful message about God’s love and God’s loving plan. Reinforcing the humanity of the unborn child, Beginnings would make a special gift for a child feeling a bit displaced by the impending birth of a sibling. Beautiful, gently-colored illustrations by Shennen Bersani complement the story and feature children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

beatitudes explained
The Beatitudes Explained by Silvia Vecchini is for independent readers in intermediate school. This book, available Tuesday, August 15, is a small booklet that breaks down the beloved teaching from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount into lesson-sized pieces. Each Beatitude is related to other Gospel stories, events or parables. Readers then consider what Jesus is asking us to do, and read “Words to Live By” which come from Scripture or saints. Finally, the “Notebook” pages at the end of each section offer journal prompts about how we can better live the Beatitudes on a daily basis. This book is an excellent supplement for religious-education classes and would also be a good resource for families to work through together.
anointed
Anointed: Gifts of the Holy Spirit by Pope Francis (compiled by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe) is designed specifically for teens who are preparing for Confirmation or are newly Confirmed. Most of the book is comprised of quotes from Pope Francis’ Wednesday Audiences. These short quotes are laid out on colorful pages with energetic, eye-catching design. Grouped according to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the quotes are encouraging and inspiring. The final chapter is made up of prayers, many of which are Holy-Spirit centered. There is also a short introduction to Lectio Divina, a list of Bible verses to inspire prayer, and a list of relevant sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I like the idea of gifting this book to teens at the beginning of their formal sacrament preparation so it can be used as a prayer resource for them as they ready their souls to receive the Holy Spirit. Visit Pauline Books to preview this book and download a free poster!
jesus speaks to you

 

A new Catholic coloring book from artist Veruschka Guerra, Jesus Speaks to You, provides a creative prayer outlet for fans of coloring books. Beautiful images inspired by Jesus’ words in Scripture fill the pages of this large-format book. My favorite design is an intricate botanical drawing inspired by the Parable of the Mustard Seed (but I reserve the right to change my mind about that as I keep coloring in this book!) You can download a free sample page from the coloring book along with a coupon code for a special offer through August 14.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given free review copies of these books, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Faith and Fun: 4 Catholic Coloring Books

Have you ever sat down to color with your children on a rainy day and discovered that you stayed at the table, filling pages with crayon-bright colors, long after the kids had wandered away? Coloring is just so relaxing. It seems like everyone has figured this out: coloring books for adults, without cartoon characters and dot-to-dot puzzles, line shelves in art-supply stores, bookshops and stationery stores.

Coloring is more than a relaxing activity, though; it can actually be a time of prayer. I’ve had the pleasure of road-testing four new Catholic coloring books for grownups.

From Pauline Books & Media

our-ladys-garden

windows-into-christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Pauline Books & Media released two coloring books for adults this summer, they paired the books with albums of meditative music to help turn that time of relaxation into a time of prayer.

Our Lady’s Garden, a large-format coloring book, includes various images of Mary, flowers, and Marian prayers. You’ll also find coloring pages centered on quotes from the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Lourdes and Guadalupe. Some pages feature invitations to write your own prayer petitions. The images are simple line drawings with graceful lines and intricate designs. Some of the images are a two-page-wide spread. Flowers and stars feature prominently in these designs.

Windows into Christ turns the stained-glass windows of the Cathedral of Chartres, France, into coloring pages. Passages from Scripture and prayers are found throughout the book, which is made up entirely of two-page spread designs. Events from the life of Christ are presented in chronological order. Because Windows into Christ is based on stained-glass windows, the drawings are no less intricate than those in Our Lady’s Garden, but the designs are bolder, with heavier lines approximating the lead between the variously-colored panes of stained glass in the cathedral windows.

From Franciscan Media

Print

Franciscan Media just published At Play in God’s Creation: An Illuminating Coloring Book by Tara M. Owens and illustrated by Daniel W. Sorensen.

A coloring book has an author?

This one does! There’s a surprisingly beefy introduction on contemplative prayer, in which the author explains:

these pages contain more than lines and spaces, quotes and reflections. At Play in God’s Creation is an invitation to meditation and contemplative prayer….The words woven throughout are breadcrumbs dropped by our playful guides along the way, saints and sinners who have walked in the world before us, who understand the love of God and our brokenness in ways both profound and simple.

This coloring book is packed full of beautiful designs to color, and it’s not all hearts and flowers. You’ll find a crown-of-thorns page with a candle in the center, water imagery, intricate Celtic knots, buildings, birds, landscapes, and, yes, hearts and flowers. There are also prayer prompts, quotes from saints and mystics, and even hidden pictures to find! It’s not just a coloring book–it’s a prayer journal.

From Ave Maria Press

mysteries-of-the-rosary-coloring-book-amp

Artist Daniel Mitsui recently released The Mysteries of the Rosary coloring book from Ave Maria Press. The intricate drawings in this coloring book are based on stained-glass art that depicts the various mysteries of the Rosary, as well as the four Evangelists, some prophets and several saints. The paper in this book is of lighter weight than the others, and I haven’t tested markers on this paper yet, so I can’t speak to whether ink would bleed through. (I’m still at the colored-pencil stage).

The only drawback I found with these coloring books is that the pages are not perforated, so they are not easy to remove. I prefer to work on a clipboard or tabletop rather than hold the book flat on a table while I color. Both books are printed on heavy, high-quality paper, which is especially important for those who color with felt-tipped markers.

Whether or not you think you’re very artistic, time spent coloring is calming and meditative. These coloring books are steeped in prayer and will inspire you as you color.

Coloring book reviews at Franciscanmom.com
Image via Pixabay (2014), CC0 Public Domain.
Logo by Esther Gefroh.

 

The fine print: I received complimentary copies of each of these coloring books, courtesy of the publishers, but no other compensation, for my review. Opinions expressed here are mine alone. All Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using my affiliate links help support this website. Thank you!

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This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.