With the shortening of days and the dropping of leaves comes an autumn tradition in many Catholic homes the annual Saint report. In anticipation of All Saints Day on November 1, Catholic children around the country are learning about the holy men and women who have gone before us offering models of piety, virtue, and service to Church and fellow man. From preschoolers dressing up as their favorite saints to Catholic school children and homeschoolers writing research reports, saints-in-training are looking to learn more about the Saints.
Fortunately these days, information is plentiful and there are several wonderful books and internet resources for parents and students. While I choose here to focus on children’s books, I have found with my own children that even my collection of dog-eared holy cards can be an effective teaching tool.
Of the bumper crop of children’s books available on the topic, I have a few new favorites. Holy Friends: Thirty Saints and Blesseds of the Americas (Pauline Books and Media, September 2005) shares the stories of thirty different saints and blesseds from eleven countries of North, South, and Central America. This richly illustrated hardcover volume provides both religious and geographic value. School aged children will learn more about well known saints and perhaps be introduced to a few new names and neighbors.
Throughout the year, my sons and I read aloud daily from Saints for Young Readers for Every Day (Pauline Books and Media, June 2005) by Susan Helen Wallace and Melissa Wright. The boys alternate turns reading from this book, which highlights a saint for each day of the year and offers a brief, uplifting reflection with each. This has been a wonderful compliment to our daily devotions and a daily church history lesson for each of us.
No list of saintly resources for children would be complete without mention of Amy Welborn’s new classic Loyola Kids Book of Saints (Loyola Press, September 2001). Straying from the traditional chronological layout, Welborn divides her reflections on the lives of the saints into thematic segments, looking at the qualities of the saints which make them models of Christian living.
When helping your child to learn about the saints, there are also numerous internet resources available to assist in your research. The Saints and Angels is a comprehensive and well indexed database for information. On a lighter note, your child may enjoy exploring Coloring Saints, which was created for children by children. Another of my favorite resources is www.HolyCards.com which features high quality digital images of many saints.
One of my fondest memories for both of my sons is the fall of their second grade year when they presented their annual Saint Report before the whole school. My little St. Michael the Archangel and St. Patrick, garbed in their costumes, stood reciting the details of the lives of their favorite patron saints. With a little research and a lot of prayer, both boys memorized facts about these saints which will hopefully result in a lifelong devotion. Teaching your child about the saints can bring great joy, and who knows, you may learn a thing or two along the way as well.
Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of numerous web sites, including CatholicMom.com and ChristianColoring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at LisaHendey.com for more information.