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Spiritual reading has been vital to Christian life since the Church’s earliest years. St. Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, “Attend to reading” (1 Tim 4:13). Since then, countless saints have encouraged us to read spiritual books.
St. Josemaria Escriva once wrote, “Don’t neglect your spiritual reading—Reading has made many saints.” He makes a great point: The annals of Church history are replete with saints who found Christ through stumbling across a great spiritual work.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux said that “Spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won,” while St. Augustine said, “He who wishes often to be with God ought to pray frequently and read pious books.”
It’s clear that spiritual reading is an essential part of living a saintly life that’s truly rooted in prayer and imitative of Christ.
A saintly life is not just for adults. Children are part of the Body of Christ too, and can have a spiritual life just as rich and meaningful as ours.
Doesn’t the Bible tell us that “A little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6)? As parents and educators, we can nourish our children’s interior life of prayer and grace.
All of this has been on my mind as I plan my children’s homeschool year. My oldest is in second grade this year and will be receiving his First Holy Communion this spring.
I want to prepare him well. I want to guide him to have a deep and lively interior life, filled with devotion to Christ and love for holy things.
I am already using standard catechetical texts like the Baltimore Catechism. Together we read Scripture and the lives of the saints.
But I have been pondering how I can help him to encounter Christ in his own independent reading. How can I provide my child with “spiritual reading” that educates him about Christ and nurtures his growing faith, but is also appropriate to his age?
I asked other Catholic parents and friends, and together we came up with this list of engaging “living books” that encourage a child’s life of faith. They’re books children can read on their own that will help them prepare for First Communion, learn about their faith, and grow closer to Jesus.
If you’re looking for something similar for the children in your life, check out these 10 books of “spiritual reading” for children.
1Patron Saint of First Communicants: The Story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini
This book tells the story of Blessed Imelda, who desperately desired to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, but lived in the 14th century when children could not receive Communion before age 14. It’s a moving story sure to inspire reverence and enormous gratitude for the Eucharist.
2King of the Golden City
A religious sister, Mother Mary Loyola, wrote this allegorical story as a catechetical tool for children. It has stood the test of time because of the beauty of its symbolism and the richness of its spiritual advice. There are versions for both girls and boys.
3St. Patrick’s Summer
This “adventure catechism” tells the story of two children who go on time-traveling escapades to learn about key periods in Church history. It’s an engaging, enjoyable story, and kids won’t soon forget the important lessons learned.
4Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids
This best-selling book for children is a treasury of short stories about all the miracles that are part of the Vatican Exhibition of Eucharistic Miracles.
5Outlaws of Ravenhurst
This outstanding classic is one every Catholic kid should read! Filled with sword fights, secret passages, and mysterious strangers, this tale of adventure and intrigue shows heroes of courageous virtue amid trials and dangers. The bold spirit, selfless charity, and heroic sacrifice of the characters are sure to inspire in children a deep love for their faith and a passion to defend it.
6Tales of the Ten Commandments: 50 Fables to Help Children Learn God’s Law
Perfect for reading in the home or classroom, this book helps children understand the Ten Commandments through 50 fables and parables that inspire young people to grow closer to God. Children will encounter stories told in the classic tradition of Aesop’s fables, as well as modern parables of children and adults who learn to live the Ten Commandments.
7Beatitales: 80 Fables about the Beatitudes for Children
What does it mean to live the Beatitudes? This book helps children to understand them better. The 80 fables and parables in this short story collection inspire a greater appreciation for ways to live out the teachings of Jesus from the Bible.
8The Interior Castle: A Boy’s Journey into the Riches of Prayer
An adaptation of St. Teresa of Avila’s spiritual classic, this enchanting story reveals to children the wonder, power, and true adventure of a rich interior life of prayer. It’s one of the best books for Catholic children published in recent years.
9The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith
This lovely allegory shows how nothing in the world can outweigh the true worth of a mass. Luminous watercolor paintings and gold foil artwork make this best-selling book a treasure.
10Stories of the Saints for Children
The author of Once Upon a Time Saints tells the stories of human and lovable people whose passion for God led them into thrilling escapades. Another excellent option is the series of saint biographies for children by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. If you can’t decide which of Windeatt’s excellent books to get, choose a saint for whom the child was named, or to whom the child has a special connection.