Nancy Carabio Belanger has a real gem for kids with her award-winning book, Olivia and the Little Way, which is number seven on my list of Christmas books with which to stuff stockings. Having taught middle school for many years, I felt that this treasure would be most appropriate for kids, mostly girls, in third through sixth grade. Having said that, as Olivia, the main character, learns the “little way” of St. Therese, I found myself learning – or revisiting – some important concepts of the value of “offering things up” and the need to persevere and make good decisions. Like any well-written book for kids, Belanger has believable characters in real-life sort of circumstances thus allowing the reader discover skills through the ways in which the characters learn and grow. I loved how Belanger wrote in Olivia’s disobedience to her parents by getting her ears pierced and felt it was an honest depiction of the ways in which kids succumb to peer pressure. I am positive that this is the sort of book that parents will love as much as their children will and would encourage Catholic teachers to look into this treasure as well.
If Belanger’s book has great appeal to young Catholic girls, I would say that Patti Maguire Armstrong’s book Dear God, I Don’t Get It!, which makes my list as number eight, would have a huge appeal to young Catholic boys. Where Belanger uses the life of St. Therese as a role model, Armstrong’s delightful book uses saints as models as well, but in a more comical way as the main character gets the brainy idea to make himself a hero—just like the saints he has learned about in school. Armstrong, the mother of ten and best-selling author of many other books, has much to offer the young reader. I’m guessing because Armstrong’s kids have very well “been there, done that.” Dear God, I Don’t Get It! would be a great addition to any Catholic home or classroom. Both these books (Belanger’s and Armstrong’s) have charming black and white illustrations throughout which, when complementing the great stories, makes the books true standouts. I guarantee that mom and dad will enjoy this book as much as the kids!
Cheryl Dickow writes from the beautiful state of Michigan. She has been married for 25 years and has three sons. She is the author of Mary: Ever Virgin, Full of Grace. Her website is www.BezalelBooks.com where the focus is publishing great books for Catholic homes, parishes and classrooms. Cheryl co-hosted the EWTN 13-part television series “All Things Girl,” which was based upon the best-selling books published by Bezalel Books. She is a weekly contributor to the Catholic Vitamins podcast produced by Deacon Tom Fox and his lovely wife Dee.