Literature Bookshelf for Christian Children

by Fr. Gary Coulter with special thanks to Dr. Terrance Nollen and his reviews in the Southern Nebraska Register
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An aid to finding wholesome children's literature in harmony with the Christian life. Positive, healthy stories that inspire virtues such as courage, charity, prudence, justice, patience and generosity. With characters children can emulate, containing no negatives like cursing, swearing, self-indulgence, defiance, alternative lifestyles and witchcraft.

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ApologeticsIntellectual Books (Youth/Adult)Catholic PeriodicalsNovels / FictionPriests / SeminariansConversion Stories


Children's Books Reviewed 2007-2008
Recent BooksClassic BooksChildren's Authors

Recent Titles (1980-Present)

Escaping the Giant Wave by Peg Kehret, Simon & Shuster 2003, 151 pages, grades 4-6
A tale of adventure and suspense. When disaster strikes, Kyle must learn how to find courage and make tough decisions in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Empty Pot by Demi, Henry Holt & Co 1990, 32 pages, grades 1-3
Story of a young Chinese boy with a green thumb, and his struggles to grow a flower for the Emperor's contest. A story of courage and honesty, with finely illustrated artwork.

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe, Abrams Books for Young Readers 2006, 40 pages, grades 2-4
Illustrated story of a 19th century priest and scientist who discovers the principles of genetics. A reminder that science can be used to discover the discover the glory of God's creation. Highly reviewed by the Catholic Library Association.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, Harper and Collins 1985, 58 pages, grades 3-4
Heartwarming story of an unmarried New England woman, unsure what direction her life will take and her encounter with a widowed frontiersman with two young children in Kansas, dealing with the pain and sorrow of a lost wife and mother. This 1986 Newberry Medal winner has been made into an acclaimed movie and has two sequel novels, Skylark and Caleb's Story

Uncle Jed's Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1993, 32 pages, grades 1-2
Picture book set in the U.S. in the 1920s, a poor black man faced with discrimination and the depression, dreams of saving enough money to own his own barbershop. A story of maintaining hope, love and valiant perseverance in the face of many obstacles. A Coretta Scott King Honor Book in 1994 for its contribution to African-American children's literature. Beautifully illustrated by James Ransome, whose own father spent 25 years to trying to purchase his own barbershop, an amazing similarity to the character of Uncle Jed.

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1993, 32 pages, grades 1-3
Moving (auto)biography of a Japanese man who moves his family to the United States. A story of the problems and contrasts every immigrant family faces: language, values, culture. A 1994 Caldecott Award winner, this well illustrated picture book tells a story of cultural change and family love without any politically correct slant or agenda.

John Henry by Julius Lester, Dial Books, 1994, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A tall tale invented about a person capable of extraordinary feats, the legendary African American character John Henry. So strong he can chop whole forests of trees and break large boulders, John Henry and his 2 sledge hammers are put to the test in a race against a steam drill to see who can dig a rail tunnel through a mountain. Children will enjoy participating in its delightful rhyming cadence. A 1995 Caldecott Honor Medal winner for its fine artwork, this picture book is movingly illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting, Clarion Books, 1989, 32 pages, grades 1-3
Loving story of a seven year old girl who is just beginning to learn to read. Her Grandmother visits each Wednesday, with a sack of books, and they enjoy reading together. Together they also plan surprise party for their father, but the greatest gift is also a surprise for the reader. An uplifting story of intergenerational family love, it can touch both you and your child. Fine pictures by Donald Carrick.

Koala Lou by Mem Fox, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988, 32 pages, grades 1-3
The occasion of a new baby is one of joy and happiness for any family, but sometimes the next youngest child can feel displaced of neglected. Such a situation is this enchanting story, set in Australia, of a young koala bear who struggles when her mother doesn't pay her as much attention. So she decides to win her mother's love by training to win in the Olympics. An entertaining picture book illustrated by Pamela Lofts.

Mary: The Mother of Jesus by Tomie dePaola, Holiday House, 1995, 32 pages, grades 1-3
This easy-to-understand and beautiful picture book tells the life of Mary, based on scripture and liturgical feasts (and the rosary). The moving pictures bring one through the mysteries of her life, and show the purity, dignity, beauty and maternal strength of Our Lady.

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, Hyperion Books for Children, 2006, 32 pages, grades 1-3 (oral reading), grades 4-6 (social studies)
The story of Harriet Tubman, a black slave who escapes from slavery, and then becomes a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping many others escape as well. A magnificent story of courage and faith, and the power that comes from a total trust in God. The evils of slavery and Harriet's harrowing escape may be frightening to some youth readers. A Caldecott winner for its outstanding art, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

Fables by Arnold Lobel, Harper and Row, 1980, 32 pages, grades 1-3 (oral reading), enjoyed by all ages
Animal tables meant to tell some moral truth, this wonderful picture books tells 20 fables. A masterful teacher, the stories cover a wide range of feelings and emotion, representing life's struggles and efforts, filled with beauty, joy and honesty. A Caldecott Medal winner, this book offering much-needed moral lessons in a non-threatening, fun-filled manner.

Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman, Clarion Books, 1987, 150 pages, grades 4-7
Story of the life of Abraham Lincoln, from his humble background in a Kentucky log cabin to becoming the 16th president of the U.S. Includes a vivid history of the civil way and the brutal evil of slavery. A blending of original letter and photographs makes this a captivating biography and history. This book won a Newbery Medal winner, and the author has written many fine biographies.

Piggins by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Harcourt Brace, 1987, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A delightful mystery story in which all the people are played by various animals. Can you figure who robs the distinguished guests in this befuddling crime before Piggins, the pig butler does? Jane Yolen has written almost 300 children's books and won many awards such as the Caldecott Medal in 1988 for Owl Moon. An example of her Jewish heritage is The Devil's Arithmetic (Grade 4-8), a riveting book but without adult themes about survival in a concentration camp that parents will want to read and discuss with their children.

Dandelions by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Greg Shed, Harcourt Brace, 1995, 32 pages, grades 1-4
A pioneer story of a family beginning a homestead in Nebraska, with both the joys and challenges, such as living in a sod house. A good book for primary children to understand how and why the Great Plains were settled, plus learn the subtle beauty of the Cornhusker state! By a famous write of children's novels and picture books, popular because readers can identify with how the characters see and experience life.

Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap! by Tom Birdseye, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Holiday House, 1993, 32 pages, grades 1-3
Appalachian folktale that is a delightful oral read for younger children. The humorous misadventures of a forgetful young boy who tends to repeat whatever he last heard. No deep, hidden message, just a fun-filled story that will have children bursting with laughter. 1996 Nebraska Golden Sower winner. Also see his: Airmail to the Moon

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola, Holiday House, 1980, 32 pages, grades K-3
Because of her maternal love, Jesus sometimes sends His holy mother to call mankind back to a greater reverence for God. These visits are called apparitions, and this wonderful picture book tells the story of the apparition in Mexico in 1531 to St. Juan Diego and the miraculous image of our lady of Guadalupe. Learn why she is so important for the Americas, and be lifted into a greater love for Jesus and his mother Mary.

Family Farm by Thomas Locker, Dial Books, 1988, 193 pages, grades 1-3
A beautiful picture book of rural America, it follows the difficulties for a typical family farm and the rural community, from crop prices to school consolidations. With hard work and creativity, will they be able to save the farm and the lifestyle they value. Thomas Locker's superb picture books have an impressive elegance and have won numerous literary awards. See Sky Tree and Cloud Dance

A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche by Joanna Cole, Morrow Junior Books, 1989, 32 pages, grades 1-3
One of the most inspiring teaching symbols is the Creche, the Nativity scene of the Christ Child in a manger surrounded by the other figures of the Christmas story. Simple or elegant, the creche is a tool for learning about the Incarnation. This book will help you learn about how St Francis started a beautiful Christmas tradition that still awakens the love for Christ in our hearts. Joanna Cole is an established children's writer, most known for her "Magic School Bus" series.

Psalm Twenty-Three by Tim Ladwig, Eerdmans books for Young Readers, 1993, 32 pages, ages elementary and above
With the text of this book coming from Scripture and containing one the most powerful prayers and poems in the book of Psalms, Psalm 23, this books speaks of the loving intervention of God, not just in history but the present day. The Psalms are a prayer that reflect the joys and sorrows, the triumphs and tragedies, the hunger for and blessings from God. This book set the psalm in modern day America, showing the challenges children face in the inner city, and that God still sends his care through those around him. Filled with hope, justice, protection and peace, this picture book would be consoling to all children, especially those living in difficult situations.

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman, Clarion Books, 2004, 114 pages, grades 4-6
The true story of a heroic young woman who helped change the evil of racial prejudice in the US through the grace and majesty of her voice. Afer overcoming childhood tragedy and poverty, Marian Anderson's vocal abilities allow to sing anywhere in the nation, before sell-out audiences, or almost anywhere... Will racial disgrimination still prevent her from singing? Can one voice both challenge and heal a nation? Russel Freedman is an acclaimed biographer for children, weaving photos and quotes into a brilliant and moving story.

I Believe: The Nicene Creed by Pauline Baynes, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2003, 32 pages, grades 2-4
As a result of numerous heresies about the Incarnation and the Trinity in the first centuries of the Church, the Council of Nicaea was called in 325 AD. 318 Bishops gathered and would condemned the Arian heresy, which misunderstood the Divine Nature of Jesus, by approving the Nicene Creed, saying that Jesus is "God from God, Light from Light, true God" consubstantial or "one in being" with the Father. This creed, recited at every Sunday Mass, is entirely recited in this beautiful and inspiring picture book.

The Lord's Prayer by Tim Ladwig, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2000, 32 pages, grades K-3
Prayer is an intimate communication with God, and this is the prayer given to us by God himself in the Gospels, the Our Father. In this touching picture book, Tim Ladwig paints contemporary African-American scenes to illustrate its beauty and richness. Ladwig paints beautiful, powerful portraits in a magnificant visual display. Also see his book, Psalm 23 reviewed above.

The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1993, 32 pages, grades 1-3
A beautifully drawn picture book that tells the story of Holy Week and why Easter is the most important event in history. Artfully told through the perspective and actions of a donkey (think Palm Sunday) who is present at each of the events. Experience the pain and sorrow, beauty and joy of Holy Week with Gospel texts and moving pictures. Winner of the Kate Greenway Medal for the most beautiful picture books.

Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues by Patricia & Fred McKissack, Scholastic Inc., 1994, 184 pages, grades 5-7
Baseball is America's national pastime, but even this popular sport was affected by the discrimination against blacks. The first 5 decades of the 20th century, black were locked out of the major leagues. So a number of talented players formed the Negro League teams, who traveled across the country playing local teams. This biography details the fascinating background of the players and the rise and decline of many Negro League teams. Patricia McKissack is a renowned writer of children's litererature and coauthored this book with her son.

The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola , GP. Putnam's Sons, 1989, 32 pages, grades K-3
An autobiography of a boy who loved to draw from a young age; for him art was simple and fun. And as Tommie entered school he was introduced to new forms of art, but also met challenges and limitations, as his own ideas of art didn't meet those of his first grade teacher. A beloved artist and writer (reviewed twice above) with simple and beautiful art, Tomie dePaola reveals intimate and inspiring details of his own life.

Mother Teresa by Demi, Margaret K McElderry Books, 2005, 32 pages, grades 3-5
An biography of a devout Albanian Catholic girl who would dedicate herself to the religious life as a teacher, and many years later would hear Jesus call her to serve the suffering and poor. Sister Teresa would form a new religious order, the Missionaries of Charity, gather others who joined her new community, and soon became famous worldwide as Mother Teresa, now declared Blessed. Superbly illustrated and meaningful, the language used in this picture book makes it appropriate for upper elementary grades.

Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told By a Cat by Jeanne Perego, Ignatius Press, 2007, 32 pages, grades 4-5
A delightful account of the life of Pope Benedict XVI, as told from the viewpoint of his pet tabby cat, Chico. With charm and innocence, Chico introduces the reader to Joseph Ratzinger, his family, childhood and studies in Germany, and of course the horrors of living in Nazi Germany during World War II. All readers will enjoy learning more about our Holy Father in this informative book.

Chess for Kids by Michael Basman, Dorling Kindersley, 2001, 45 pages, grades 5-8
Chess: From First Moves to Checkmate by Daniel King, Kingfisher, 2000, 64 pages, grades 5-8
The game of chess is said to be the only board game which does not involve luck or chance. Over 1,500 years old, this board game can be both relaxing and educational. These two books explain how to play this marvelous game of warfare, and will deepen your appreciation of the game. Today millions of boys and girls sharpen their thinking skills through the interesting sport of chess.

Major Taylor, Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Atheneum Books, 2004, 32 pages, grades 2-4
This interesting biography tells the story of the most famous American bicycle racer at the turn of the 20th Century (the Lance Armstrong of his day). An African American from Indianapolis, Marshall Taylor became an expert rider at a young age, performing stunts and winning races in the Midwest. Upon entering National races, he soon experienced the hatred of racism, but his only response was to outride the others. What will happen when he enters the International championships? Lesa Cline-Ransome and her husband, James Ransome, the illustrator of this book, have both won numerous children's literature awards for their hopeful and inspiring books.

Tornadoes by Catherine Chambers, Heinemann Library, 2001, 48 pages, grades 4-5
One of the most destructive forces in nature, particularly in the Midwest U.S. This book explains the science behind tornadoes, the forcasting of tornadoes, and what to do in case of one. Pictures show the immense damage they can cause.

The Magic School Bus At The Waterworks by Joanna Cole, Scholastic Inc., 1986, 32 pages, grades 2-4
The first in a series of many fascinating science books, in which the slighty wacky Ms. Fizzle takes her class on adventurous field trips. While humourous, the books in this popular series give many valuable facts, are scientifically accurate, and allow children to learn in an enjoyable way.

Our National Anthem by Stephanie St. Pierre, Millbrook Press, 1992, 47 pages, grades 3-5
Learn more about the history and meaning of our national anthem, the circumstances in which it was composed, how it came to be well known and played at all important events. The "Star Spangled Banner" is more than just a moving song, it is the cry of a country standing up for itself during violent attack.

John Philip Sousa by Mike Venezia, Children's Press, 1998, 32 pages, grades 2-3
An interesting biography of the childhood, musical traiing, and enormous sucess of this famous composer and conductor, John Philip Sousa, who captured the American spirit in his stirring music. Both enjoyable and informational, this is one of a well-regarded series "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers."

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, Candlewick Press, 2006, 32 pages, grades 2-3
Libraries are exciting places full of interesting treasures (i.e. reading material), but is a library a place for a lion? As everyone knows, there are a number of rules need so everyone can enjoy a library. In this humorous picture book, a lion is a helpful assistant to the librarian, but also keeps breaking the rules. A great book to read aloud, it is illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, famous for his children's books.

The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindbergh, Candlewick Press, 1998, 32 pages, grades 1-3
St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most beloved saints of the Catholic Church, one who sought to serve the Lord in every aspect of his life and founded the Franciscan order. This picture book beautifully illustrates his famous prayer, "The Canticle of the Sun." In it you see the love St. Francis had for creation, and understand how to turn towards God by seeing his beauty in the created world. Reeve is the daughter of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and poet Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and she has written a number of fine, highly regarded children's books.

Duck Hunting With Grandpa by Helen Hunter, Hunter House Publications, 1998, 102 pages, grades 3-4
Hunting has long been a storied pastime in the U.S. Learning to hunt can open one to a world of beauty and outdoor adventure, meaningful relationships, and important lessons. This interesting book provides a complete description of responsible hunting and the philosophy and adventure behind hunting. But is also is about the valuable lessons a young boy learns from his Grandpa.

The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso, Gingerbread House, 2002, 32 pages, grades 1-3
At the center of Catholic Worship, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest form of prayer possible, a participation in the Body and Blood of Our Lord, offered on Calvary, and in an unbloody manner at the Last Supper and each Mass. This is beautiful picture book about a society that has grown lukewarm in faith where many never go to Mass anymore. See how they rediscover the value of "One Mass". The illustrator Katalin Szegedi, has been awarded Hungary's highest award for children's picture books.

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan with Roslyn M. Jordan, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000, 32 pages, grades 1-3
Many would consider Michael Jordan one of the best basketball players of all time. This picture book tells his story as a young boy, learning to play basketball. One may be surprised at how even he struggled, was discouraged and lost at times, but finds advice and consolation from his family. Most notable is the support and affection of his parents who teach him how it is inner qualities that make one a winner. A wonderful, popular book that will delight students with its story and its humorous illustrations by Kadir Nelson.

The Giver by Lois Lowry, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1993, 180 pages, grades 11 and higher
The culture of life see every person as having dignity and value because they are created by God. The culture of death measures a person's value only if they are productive - they can produce material benefits for society. This novel shows the consequences of complete acceptance of the culture of death, imagining a secular society entirely based on comfort as the highest good, satisfying one's every desire, at the cost of removing all individuality and humanity A Newbery Medal winner in 1994, this book deals with dark and mature topics like euthanasia, infanticide and suicide, but may help high schoolers to grow in ethics and understand why euthanasia is morally wrong.

The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog by Tomie dePaola, Voyager Books, 1981, 32 pages, grades K-2
Old Mother Hubbard and Her Wonderful Dog by James Marshall, Farrar, Strais and Giroux, 1991, 32 pages, grades K-2
Oral reading of this all-time favorite nursery rhyme can be an effective way for children to learn and to bond with their parents. Tomie dePaola has created a funny and enjoyable picture book, with his usual witty, charming character. James Marshall has an even more hilarious version (be sure to see the little side pictures), both funny and endearing.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable by John Boyne, David Fickling Books, 2006, 218 pages, grades 9 and higher
Story of 9-year-old German boy whose father, a rising officer in the Nazi Third Reich, is made commandant of a Polish concentration camp (Auschwitz). There he meets a boy on the other side of the prison fence. His naieve friendship grows as each boy finds love and acceptance, but with a tragic, riveting conclusion. This book has won numerous literary awards and has been made into a movie. For older readers because of its treatment of the Nazi's Final Solution.

The Christmas Story: Told Through Paintings by Richard Muhlberger, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990, 39 pages, grades 8 and above
Magnificent book of painting that tell the Christmas Story through the great painters of the Renaissance. The scenes and symbols of each painting are explained, so that the book becomes a brief course in art history, along with a magnificent retelling of the beauty of the Incarnation.

Bethlehem by Fiona French, Ignatius Press, 2004, 32 pages, grades K-3
A powerful celebration of the birth of Jesus by using illustrations inspired by the stained glass of cathedral windows, combined with the New Testament texts of the nativity from Matthew and Luke. A useful picture book for helping children understand the birth of our savior, yet the stunning illustrations and accompanying scripture will appeal to all ages. This book is a glorious sequel to French's original, Easter

Classics (before 1980)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, 1950, grades 5-7
The classic story of four children who accidentally discover a new, magical land. A marvelous story of betrayal and redemption. The first book by publication (or second by chronological story) in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field, with Elizabeth Orton Jones (Illustrator), Collier Books 1941, 32 pages, Preschool
A child's prayer in a memorizable poem, a grace filled picture book of praise and thanks to God (Caldecott Award winner). Rachel Field also wrote the Newberry Award winning Hitty Her First Hundred Years, 1929

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, with Garth Williams (Illustrator), Harper Collins 1952, 184 pages, Grades 3-5
A wonderful literary treat and childhood favorite, a story of friendship and care for your neighbor - involving a spider and a rat trying to save Wilbur the pig. (Newberry Award winner)

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson, Viking Press 1944, 128 pages, Grades 3-5
A classic animal story of a young rabbit and his encounter with humans. Combines action, humor and suspense with a beautiful ending and a delightful southern twang. (Newberry Medal winner 1945). Mr. Lawson also wrote the Caldecott Medal winner: They Were Strong and Good, 1940

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, Putman and Sons 1977, 64 pages, Grades 3-4
Based on a true story of a Japanese twelve year-old girl's fight with leukemia. A story of courage and greatness, consideration of others, and the aftereffects of war.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harper and Row 1932, Grades 2-4
The first book in the charming and remarkable stories in the Little House series set in the woodlands of Wisconsin, describing the pioneer settlement of the US. Your child will delight to discover how settlers lived, discovered, hunted and survived in a challenging yet comforting world. A great story of family life and love, perhaps reflecting how the books were probably a joint collaborative effort between mother (Laura) and daughter (Rose).

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, Aladdin Paperbacks 1947, 173 pages, Grades 3-5
Based on the real life Chincoteague Island (Virginia), and the wild horses there, this Newbery Honor book combines a story of family and love with adventure. A great horse story.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Harcourt Inc. 1944, 80 pages, Grades 3-4
Heartbreaking story of a Polish-American immigrant girl who wants to fit in, but is taunted by her peers for only owning one dress. Every bit as relevant today, it could be a useful book for demonstrating the consequences of taunting and ostracizing a student. 1945 Newbery Honor book, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin.

Helen Keller: From Tragedy to Triumph by Katherine Wilkie, Aladdine Paperbacks 1969, 192 pages, Grades 3-5
Fictionalized biography based on the facts of Helen Keller's life. A glimpse into the life of this inspirational and famous American, who grew up both deaf and blind. How can a student unable to see or hear be taught - one who strong-willed and rebellious as well? From The Childhood of Famous Americans Series, which contains more than 30 fictionalized biographies, based on the facts of a person's life in story format.

The Story of Easter by Aileen Fisher, Harper Collins 1968, 32 pages, Grades 1-3
A warm picture book that helps capture the central events in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second half of the book describe the meaning and evolution behind many Easter traditions, such as Easter eggs. Written for all Christians, Catholic parents may want to supplement the story of the Last Supper, explaining that the Holy Eucharist contains Jesus Christ. Illustrated by Stefano Vitale.

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Macmillan Publishing 1948, 173 pages, Grades 3-5
A story of an Arabian horse and his stable boy, and their travels and trials from Morocco to France and England. Almost killed, ill-treated, sold and resold, yet this horse shows courage, strength, and most importantly, great speed. A novel of adventure and pain, joy and triumph. A Newbery Medal winner for literary distinction in 1949, it is one of the most popular children's books ever written (equally enjoyed by adults).

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, 1872, 208 pages, Grades 4-7
A classic piece of children's literature, a story of a princess and her search for goodness and love, as she matures and grows. A story of a fight between humans and goblins who plot to takeover the earth. Is this fairy tale also a Christian allegory about faith and salvation? George MacDonald was a personal favorite and shaping influence to later English writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Spire Books 1971, 241 pages, Grades 10 and above
True-life story of a family living in Holland when it is overrun by the Nazi regime in 1940. Despite the terror and threats, the family hides Jews in their home. Caught and sent to prison camps, they discover the redeeming love of Christ, grace and forgiveness in the midst of horror and suffering. Contains painful themes about the Holocaust important for high school students but inappropriate for younger children.

The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Puffin Books 1961, 248 pages, Grades 6-8
An adventurous novel about an Egyptian boy whose happy life takes many difficult turns. He tries to do what is right, but too often his actions seem to make things worse. And when he discovers a plot to plunder and pillage the royal pyramid tombs, he must conquest his fears and have the courage to risk his life. One of three Newbery Medal winners from Eloise McGraw's some 20 novels. With well developed characters and a great deal of history, her books are both interesting and educational.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri, William Morrow 1996 (first published 1881), 383 pages, Grades 4-6
A beloved classic of children's literature, centered in Switzerland, tells the story of an unwanted orphan, who forms various relationships with different people and caretakers. A story of innocence, charity, and healing based on the value of having faith in God who guides us through life's struggles. [Note: there are less expensive versions than this one illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith.]

Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, originally published 1922, Grades 2-4 with Adult Themes
A simple yet penetrating story about a stuffed doll who wants to be real. Not just a picture book, the Velveteen Rabbit asks the same questions about the meaning and purpose of life that we all do. Therefore adults can also gain much from this book, for we all have similar ideas and desires in our hearts. Author of many short stories and novels including "Winterbound," a 1937 Newbery Medal winner.

I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1965, 180 pages, Grades 5-7
A moving story and revealing novel and a slave, Juan, who while treated well desires more in life. An apprentice to a world renowned painter, Juan has a secret desire to himself be a painter, even if it is forbidden. De Trevino won the Newbery Medal in 1966 for this book that captures the desires of the human heart and the greatness that is possible in each of us.

Madeline's Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans, Viking Kestrel 1956, 32 pages, Grades K-2
One of the most memorable characters in children's literature, there are six (actually seven) books about Madeline. The youngest of 12 girls, Madeline is fearless, brave and generous, always at the center of the action. Bemelmans was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1956 for Madeline's Rescue. Adults enjoy reading these books almost as much as they are popular with young children

My Side of the Mountain by Elizabeth (Jean) Craighead George, Dutton Children's 1959, 177 pages, Grades 4-6
A fascinating novel of a young boy from New York city escaping to see if he can survive in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountain Range. He learns important life lessons, survival skills and observes the work of nature, yet also learns the importance of the support of a loving family. George was awarded the Newbery medal for this book in 1959 and again 1973 for Julie and the Wolves. Her writings about sever challenges usually appeal to adventurous children, and also contain beautiful descriptions of the natural world.

The Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys) by Franklin W. Dixon, Grosset and Dunlap 1927, 180 pages, Grades 3-5
The Hardy Boys are young detectives solving mysteries and facing difficult problems that require courage and intelligence. The first mystery in the most popular series ever written for 9- to 12-year-old readers (and not just boys - enjoyed by many girls over the years as well). Over 50 books (by various authors) about Joe and Frank Hardy were published in the series.

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew) by Carolyn Keene, Grosset and Dunlap 1959, 180 pages, Grades 4-6
In the Nancy Drew mystery stories, the reader feels as close intimacy to this teenager with an intuition and spunk for solving difficult cases. This first mystery also requires her courage and strength to face danger and help a poor family search for a missing will for their inheritance. The series went on to include 56 books (by various authors), TV shows and movies. It was and is still very popular with young girls because of the character of Nancy Drew.

Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction by David Macaulay, Houghton Mifflin, 1973, 80 pages, grades 4-8
The architecture of a church should draw the faithful to awareness of the presence of God (in the Eucharist in the tabernacle) and to a deeper faith and love. The desire to honor God led to the remarkable development of the Gothic Cathedral. A detailed description of the process of constructing a cathedral, it shows not only the incredible craftsmanship, intricate detail, and compelling stained-glass windows; but also the persistent dedication of the common people, centered on God and not on self. (Note: page one mistakenly confuses the veneration of relics with "worship". Catholics worship God alone.)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, 1870, 325 pages, grades 10+
A famous, classic science fiction work that combines exciting advenure and brave heroes while pushing the reader to understand the mysteries of the physical world. First sent to destroy dreaded submarine Nautilus, pilated by the reclusive Captain Nemo, three men find themselves captured and becoming part of its crew.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Harper and Row, 1964, 53 pages, grades 1-3
A central paradox of Christianity is that in losing your life, you will gain it, in giving love we find it, in total surrender to God we discover the truth of the Gospel. This valuable lesson of the significance of sacrifice is illustrated by a beautiful tree who gives everything she has, in contrast with the emptiness of the man who takes without giving back.

The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann, 1816, adapted by Janet Schulman, Harper Collins, 1999, 34 pages, content: K-6, reading: 4-6
Most famous as the beloved and spectacular ballet by Peter Tchaikovsky, the ballet was first based on this adapted book. Loved by children for its story of toys coming to life, this book will halso help one understand all the battles and dances in the ballet, and what or who the nutcracker really is.


Children's Authors

James Marshall (d. 1992)
Wrote more than 70 children's books (grades 1-3), including the famous George and Martha series. Another of his legendary characters is Viola Swamp, the substitute teacher. His books are filled with human and hysterical drawings. See Red Riding Hood for a delightfully zany version of the classic fairy tale. Or Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this irreverent telling of the familiar tale was a Caldecott Honor Book winner in 1989.

Trina Schart Hyman (d. 2004)
A well-known children's author/illustrator she frequently used fairy tales as the subject of her work. She won the Caldecott Medal four times for her picture books (grades 1-3), such as Saint George and the Dragon. She too has a version of Little Red Riding Hood, more traditional and with a moral lesson about right and wrong.

Jan Brett (1949-Present)
A renowned author/illustrator of children's books (Grades K-3), the borders of her books are often filled with characters from the story and can be useful to engage students, even younger children. Her drawings and paintings are so splendid that many simply want to gaze at the beauty and passion of the pictures before reading the text. See Fritz and the Beautiful Horses, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the classic Beauty and the Beast among many others.

Chris Van Allsburg (1949-Present)
One of the most acclaimed writers and illustrators of children's literature, Van Allsburg's pictures are captivating and his range of subject matter is amazing. Among his many books, The Polar Express was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1986, a literary and visual delight in which a boy learns the meaning and joy of gift giving from Santa himself.

Vera B. Williams (1927-present) is a distinguished children's writer, and was honored by the Catholic Library Association's Regina Award in 2008.
A Chair for My Mother Greenwillow Books, 1982, 32 pages, grades K-3
The story of a young girl whose home was destroyed by a fire, losing everything. Although the neighbors and friends are very generous in donating many clothes and items, the family is in need of a comfortable chair, which they cannot afford. Although disheartened, the girl devises a plan to earn what she can and save their coins in a large jar, but will she be able to save enough, or become too discouraged? This book was a Caldecott Honor Winner
Cherries and Cherry Pits Greenwillow Books, 1986, 40 pages, grades 1-3
Another story of young girl with an array of challenges, whose power and strength of charater will influence her decisions and make positive choices. In an inner-city setting, she learns that life is like a bowl of cherries (sometimes it's the pits), but she also learns the lesson that the pits themselves can have value.