2008 has been a significant year. Catholic women everywhere have been encouraged to embrace their worth in celebration of the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem, his Apostolic Letter on the Dignity and Vocation of Women. Some have participated in the Catholic Exchange woman’s study, others have attended retreats and workshops, while still others have made personal commitments to spend more time studying Church teachings and various documents such as Mulieris Dignitatem.
It is such a beautiful time to be a Catholic woman and embrace our relationship with Christ. We are being encouraged to seek out writings that clarify what we mean to Jesus and how He treated women quite differently than the “norm” of His time. Many of us are finally learning to “own” that knowledge. But before we became women of God we were young girls seeking to know ourselves and often succumbing to secular messages. Indeed, it can sadly be said that as grown women we often, still, mistakenly buy into the same messages that inundate our young girls today.
That is why it was with great enthusiasm that I accepted a position to edit a series of books intended for Catholic ‘tweens. I knew it was a blessing to work on a project that addressed all the real issues girls face in regards to friends or fashion, yet addressed them in light of the Truths of the Catholic Church.
The series is called “All Things Girl.” The first book (Friends, Boys, and Getting Along) has been endorsed by best-selling Catholic author and pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker and has been featured on Sacred Heart radio. Friends, Boys, and Getting Along has only been out a few short weeks but is becoming wildly popular among moms and their daughters eliciting such emails as, “Finally! A book that both my daughter and I love!”
All in all there are five titles in the “All Things Girl” series:
Friends, Boys, and Getting Along
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…What is Beauty, After All?
Mind Your Manners
Modern and Modest
There is also a journal that accompanies the series called All Things Girl Journal for Prayers, Thoughts, and Other Important Things. The series is done in color and the book’s trim size is 7×10. The smallest page count is the first book (Friends, Boys, and Getting Along) and the journal, at 40 pages each, while the other titles are between 50 and 60 pages in length. What is wonderful about the book is the great use of color and graphics and the fact that the paper used is a thicker stock with the idea that the girls will read these books again and again.
Each book in the series begins with a section titled “High Class” in which the focus is the dignity inherent in being a daughter of the King. Every book in the series includes a media piece written by media specialist and Catholic radio host Teresa Tomeo. In the first book Teresa writes about such things as cyber-bullying and in the second book how the media negatively influences body image. All the books have a section called “A Girl Like Me” in which a particular saint is showcased and her life story is shared as a way to inspire our young girls with role models far more to our liking as parents than anything the secular world dishes out. There’s a section called “You’ve Got to Have a Plan” in which the girls are given some basic ideas of how to commit to a prayer life and how to develop it once committed.
In addition to the mainstays in each book, there are a number of different sections that change from one book to another. For instance, the first book has a few fun “quizzes” for the girls to take and some interesting questions that help them with an examination of conscience. It introduces the different vocations to which girls may be called and sets the groundwork for future sections to explore more fully. The second book offers some great “make at home” recipes for bath salts and gives manicure and pedicure steps while also spending time delving into “real beauty.” The third book has a great section on the feminine genius. Each book, then, has a focus along with things that make it clearly part of a series.
No matter what draws girls back again and again, the series beautifully relies on the simple truths of JPII’s teachings to develop virtues amidst every ‘tween’s concern for fashion, beauty, and friends. This series helps each girl discover the unique privilege and call upon her life in God’s kingdom. She will learn that she is a princess and how saying “yes” to God’s plan for her life can change the face of the world forever! That is JPII’s message of “feminine genius” as it applies to all females. The books provide guidance along with the fun quizzes, tips, and stories that are meant to enforce the role parents as the primary educators of their children.
I asked the authors about their overall goals for the series and to share their own personal experiences that brought them to this point where they felt “called” to put this ground-breaking series together.
Here’s what Molly Miller shared: “My goal for the ATG series is to have something out there for girls in their ‘tween years that represents solid Catholic teaching. I wanted something that would plant seeds of Faith especially in the midst of secular messages. I felt it was necessary to address topics that are real in the life of young girls, such as taking care of their hair and skin, while imparting the knowledge that they have inherent dignity and recognizing what modesty truly is, and that is a cool thing! My hope and dream is for girls to read these books over and over and to internalize the message.”
Teresa Tomeo, who writes a special media piece for each book in the series, offers her own hopes and dreams for the series: “I was greatly inspired most recently by taking part in the Vatican congress for women marking the 20th anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem. It gave me a much deeper perspective on the Church teachings as they relate to women and their true dignity. And I really wanted to inspire girls to see how beautiful they are — made in the image and likeness of God, and to help them gain their identity through a relationship with Jesus and not from the negative influences of the world. To do that there needed to be a counter-culture message of ‘real’ beauty and dignity. I found that there was really nothing like this out there in the book stores for ‘tweens and teen girls written from a completely Catholic perspective, something that gave families a really good tool to help educate their daughters and also provide private schools and homeschool families with some beautiful materials as well.”
Monica Cops shared her thoughts and the lessons gleaned even in working on the series: “The overall message of ATG is to make ‘tween girls aware of their dignity as daughters of God and how they need to express it in all areas of their lives: in their friendships, in their appearance, manners, speech, etc. The books provide girls with practical insights to grow closer to Jesus, to grow in virtue, and to learn from the lives of the saints. It’s all of these aspects of the book that makes this series one of a kind! The books are fun and easy to read as the pages are very colorful and engaging. My goal for ATG is for all ‘tween girls to realize that they can have a relationship with Jesus as they grow up; He is their Best Friend! They can continue to live their ordinary lives — family, school, sports, fun, etc. — and at the same time grow in their faith. Realizing that they are daughters of the King, they are princesses! For me, working on these books has been an amazing experience; I have learned to trust God more, especially when things don’t seem to be going the way I had planned them! I have learned that when I put God first, no matter how busy or tired I am, things always work out the way they should. While doing the research for the books, I have come to realize more fully the gift of being created a female. This makes the messages of the book not only important to our daughters but to ourselves as well!”
The series is available on Amazon, through the author’s website www.RunwaytoReality.org, or can be ordered at your favorite Catholic bookstore.
Note: Teresa Tomeo is a media specialist and Catholic talk show host. Her website is www.teresatomeo.com and anyone can sign up for her newsletters. She can be contacted at 586-777-2691 to schedule her popular talk dedicated to ‘tweens and teens called, “Choices and Challenges Facing Today’s Teens.” Molly Miller and Monica Cops offer talks and presentations based upon the topics of the series. They also speak at Mother/Daughter events where they offer such products as bracelets, bookmarks, and door hangers for the “All Things Girl” series. Their website is www.runwaytoreality.org.