Lent is here, and with it comes the challenge of helping children to understand this liturgical season and all that goes with it — preparation, sacrifice and waiting. It’s a prime time to offer kids opportunities for spiritual reading that will help them to walk the Lenten journey and prepare for Easter and upcoming sacraments. Here are a range of books that celebrate the sacraments and special saints who each embraced their own crosses. Available at Amazon.

 

Baptism Day

Written and illustrated by

Maïte Roche

Ignatius, 2017

14 pages, $6.99

It is a very special day. Baby Leo is becoming a child of God. In this beautifully illustrated board book, sized just right for small hands, young children learn about the sacrament of baptism. Leo’s parents ask that their baby be baptized.

As the parish priest pours water over his head and anoints him, his family, friends and godparents rejoice. Leo has become a Christian and welcomed into the Church! Ages 4 and up.

 

Saint Bernadette and the

Miracles of Lourdes

Written and illustrated by Demi

Ignatius, 2017

48 pages, $15.99

Fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was poor, sickly and unschooled. If they thought of her at all, no one in the small French town of Lourdes ever expected anything of Bernadette. But it was to Bernadette that a beautiful lady appeared in a nearby grotto and then vanished. The lady, as we now know, was the Mother of God — but Bernadette didn’t know that at first. This tale tells the rest of the story: Bernadette’s other visits to the grotto, what Mary asked her to do, and her uncovering of a spring that has healed many. Healings — both physical and spiritual — still happen at the Shrine of Lourdes, where, once, a young girl humbled herself and trusted in the “beautiful lady” sent by God. Ages 6-12.

 

Junípero Serra:

Founder of the California Missions

Written by Linda Gondosch

Illustrated by

Emmanuel Beaudesson

Ignatius, 2015

36 pages, $14.99

The New World beckoned to Friar Junípero Serra, who dreamed of becoming a missionary priest. Leaving behind family and friends in Spain, Father Serra worked tirelessly among the Indians living in Mexico and California. He traveled more than 24,000 miles — mostly on foot — to bring Christ to those in the wilderness. Guided by his motto, “Always forward, never back,” Father Serra established the first nine Catholic missions, from San Diego to San Francisco, in California. Pope Francis canonized St. Junípero, naming him “the Evangelizer of the West in the United States.” Ages 9 and up.

 

Patrick and the Fire

Written by Cornelia Mary Bilinsky

Illustrated by Maggie Coburn

Pauline, 2017

40 pages, $13.95

Bevan is so tired of herding goats! The only thing that keeps him going is the thought of the upcoming fire festival for Balor, the god of light. Before the celebrations begin, Bevan meets a stranger, unlike anyone he has ever known. His new friend, Patrick, tells the story of how he was taken to Ireland as a slave but managed to escape. Now, he has returned on a mission to tell everyone about the one and only true God, Jesus Christ! Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this engaging legend tells of the saint’s life, while sharing an adventurous tale and providing springboards for catechesis. Ages 4-8.

 

Brigid and the Butter

Written by Pamela Love

Illustrated by Apryl Scott

Pauline, 2017

40 pages, $13.95

One good Irish tale deserves another! This legend tells the story of Brigid, a poor slave girl who grew up in Ireland. Brigid’s mother entrusts her with the hard job of making butter, which is sometimes the only food in the house. A bright spot in her days occurs when she gets to hear the stories of Jesus told by Bishop (now-St.) Patrick. Inspired by the story of the little boy who gave Jesus all the loaves and fishes he had to feed the crowd, she soon hits her own crossroads in giving. Will she share with a poor beggar woman the butter she worked so hard to make — or will she keep it for herself? This lovely tale of St. Brigid provides a model of generosity, sacrifice and confidence in God’s provision. Ages 4-8.

 

The Night Before My First

Holy Communion

Written by Natasha Wing

Illustrated by Amy Wummer

Grosset & Dunlap, 2018

32 pages, $4.99

“‘Twas the night before Communion, our very first one,” begins this lighthearted story of a brother and sister’s special day. Told in the cadence of Clement Moore’s poem about Christmas Eve, this book in rhyme gives a child’s-eye view of preparing for and receiving Holy Communion. While the kids worry during practice about making mistakes, Father reassures them that all will be fine. It’s hard not to be nervous on the big day, but a glance at a statue of Jesus takes away any fear. The celebration of the Mass is followed by a party with lots of family, all glad to share in the children’s joy. Ages 5 and up.

 

Anointed: Gifts of the

Holy Spirit

Written by Pope Francis

Compiled by Jaymie

Stuart Wolfe

Design by Putri Mamesah and

Mary Joseph Peterson, FSP

Pauline, 2017

120 pages, $18.95

Pope Francis has spoken often about the Holy Spirit, and his words are captured well in this compact, hardbound volume. The book opens with a short introduction by the Holy Father and then unfolds in sections organized by the different gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Pope’s words are sprinkled with quotes from Scripture, and both are brought to life with beautiful photos and engaging, youth-oriented graphics. A final section includes related prayers. This appealing book would be a wonderful gift to share with those who are preparing to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation. It includes both “gift” and “memory keepsake” pages that add a personal touch to this inspiring resource. Ages 10 and up.

The Crawford sisters

write from Pittsburgh.