Faithful Reading: Back-to-School Books with Meaning

Jeannie Ewing

Faithful Reading: Back-to-School Books with Meaning

With summer days coming to a close, most parents are shifting their thoughts to the transition to school. Here is a list of some Catholic books for kids of all ages that will guide them in their spiritual growth.

Preschool / Pre-Reading Age

  1. Let Us Pray: A Child’s First Book of Prayers by Katie Warner – A board book filled with charming images accompanied by classic prayers for every child, such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
  2. Cloud of Witnesses: A Child’s First Book of Saints by Katie Warner – Including the art of Meg Whalen, this is a fun book filled with short, familiar quotes from well-known and well-loved saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi (the Peace Prayer) and St. Ignatius of Loyola.
  3. The Word of the Lord: A Child’s First Scripture Verses by Katie Warner – Simple but powerful drawings showcasing many Catholic values, such as protecting unborn human life in the womb and the sacredness of marriage, this book also includes accompanying Bible verses that kids can learn and love.
  4. Kiddie Cat: A Child’s First Catechism Lesson by Katie Warner – Another board book your child will love, based on symbolic images that coincide with important excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which have been simplified for a child’s mind and heart to absorb. 
  5. Praying With My Fingers: An Easy way to Talk with God by Paraclete Press – This little board book fits into most diaper bags, purses, or backpacks and teaches practical counting skills for children to learn to pray, using each of their fingers.

Early Elementary


  1. Cutie Fruities and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit by Thomas Nelson Books – The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are personified in this adorable scratch-n-sniff glitter board book. Perfect for girls around ages 5 to 9.
  2. I Went to Mass: What Did I See? By Katie Warner – More for kindergarten ages, this book combines fun rhyme with whimsical pencil sketches to familiarize littles with the structure of the liturgy.
  3. Listening for God: Silence Practice for Little Ones by Katie Warner – A pictoral way to assist young ones in understanding how to develop the interior quiet needed to listen to God’s voice, through Scripture, other people, the Mass, Adoration, etc. 
  4. The Tiny Seed: A Parable by Katie Warner – A perfect treasure to help children understand how much God loves them and created them as unique footprints in this world.
  5. This is the Church by Katie Warner – A colorful and engaging way to introduce your child to the history of the Church, from the story of Adam and Eve all the way through the Resurrection of Jesus. 

Late Elementary / Tween


  1. Francis and Clare: Saints of Assisi by Helen Walker Homan – A chapter book that showcases in detail the extraordinary friendship between Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi.
  2. Marian Consecration for Children by Carrie Gress – This is a powerful way to introduce your older child to the concept of Marian consecration, without the heady, flowery language. Dr. Gress does a fantastic job of using metaphors and relatable stories to capture the concept for kids ready to give their lives and hearts to Mary.
  3. Saint Dominic and the Rosary by Catherine Beebe – The inspiring story of the Rosary’s beginnings and the visions St. Dominic received from the Blessed Mother.
  4. Saint Joan: The Girl Soldier by Louis de Wohl – A great way to help your older child learn about fortitude and courage by way of St. Joan of Arc’s example and witness.
  5. Lepanto’s Lady by Laurie Schmitt – A novel based on the real Battle of Lepanto, protagonist Rosa goes on an adventure on the sea and encounters the power of the Rosary in saving her life.



  1. A Single Bead by Stephanie Engelman – This is an intriguing story about a young girl who tracks every Rosary bead that broke after her grandmother died in a plane crash, and her quest to heal in the midst of her grief.
  2. Angelhood by Amy Cattapan – The story is a modern fantasy, in which Nanette, a teen, takes her own life and discovers in alternating places of darkness and light, that she is an angel meant to guide another young girl, Vera, away from taking the same path as Nanette in life.
  3. Playing by Heart by Carmela Martino – A romance set in 18th century Italy about two sisters of nobility, mainly the younger of the two who wants to marry but is expected to enter the convent instead.
  4. Shadow in the Dark by Antony Kolenc – A fun twist on the classic mystery, this story takes a young boy (Xan) through amnesia resulting from a traumatic attack to rediscovering who he is and whether he still has a family. In the meantime, a mysterious, dark figure follows him around in the abbey where he has been nursed back to health.
  5. Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein – A classic fantasy that all teens must read before graduating high school.

Though it’s a challenge to find books about the Faith for older kids that won’t seem lame to them, many of these my own ‘tween daughter has read, and I have shelved some of the YA books for her future reading. Parenting kids in these times, especially when we want to instill strong values in their hearts and lives, can be equally daunting. But reading is the primary means by which our imaginations are formed and solidified. My personal belief is that we can begin any time to introduce and reinforce the beautiful gifts of celebrating lives of saints and other courageous heroes and heroines in stories that exemplify their moral character.