We asked dozens of Catholic parents for the books they recommend to other parents to help raise kids in the faith. From picture books to faith formation and parenting advice books, here's what they think should be on your shelf.
We asked dozens of Catholic parents for the books they recommend to other parents to help with raising kids in the faith. Prayer books, chapter books, picture books, parenting and advice books—you name it, they delivered.
We've divided their suggestions up into the following categories: storybooks; catechetical/faith formation books; bibles; YA novels and chapter books; prayer; parenting advice and support. Click the links below to skip down to a category.
Got your own favorite books to recommend? Drop a note in the comments (or the associated Facebook post), or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the name of the book, the author(s), and a line or two about why you think other parents should have it on their shelves.
Book links take you to Amazon, where your purchase helps support the work of Peanut Butter & Grace.
Zacchaeus and Jesus (Flipside Stories). Great retelling of the story of Zaccheus, reinforced by it being told twice. Telling it from both Zaccheaus's and Jesus' points of view is a fun twist when you "finish" the story but then flip the book over to tell it again. Bold, colorful, illustrations and a text that lends it to being read aloud. Great for teaching repentance, forgiveness, and preparing for Reconciliation. (Cindy Eimann Coleman)
Saints for Young Readers for Every Day (Volumes 1 and 2) by Susan Helen Wallace. These are the BEST books I have found to read aloud to my children about the lives of the saints. Each day there is one-two pages about a saint and their feast day. I personally have grown to love and appreciate saints' lives by reading from these books aloud to my children daily! (Tracy Bua Smith)
The Man and the Vine and The Woman and the Wheat by Jane Meyer A set of beautifully illustrated picture books that explore the connection between the work of our hands and the work of the liturgy. The story each book follows either wheat or wine from planting to harvesting and then from the preparation of the ingredients to their being both received and offered with the gathered community. Absolute favorites! (Angela Compton Nelson)
Can You Find Saints by Philip Gallery. If your children love the search-and-find or Where's Waldo type books, they will love this! Each page is packed full of saints hidden in intricate settings that the child has to find. There are descriptions for each saint, but even my pre-readers enjoy looking through this. (Andrea Lucero-Watje)
Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus by Maura Roan McKeegan I love this book for introducing children (and parents!) to biblical typology or the foreshadowing that can be seen in the Old Testament. (Cheryl Goheen)
Mary and the Little Shepherds of Fatima by Marlyn Monge. My children & I have enjoyed reading this new book about Fatima as we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima. It even includes a page "For Grown-ups" that gives a little more detail about the apparitions to the adult reader. (Cheryl Goheen)
The Catholic Children's Treasure Box by . Perfect for reading during quiet time or at night before bed, the Catholic Children's Treasure Box set has stories of saints, guardian angels, old fashioned games and crafts, poems, and are great conversation starters about various religious topics. They are simple and beautifully illustrated. (Adrianna Tucker blogs at My Little Felt Friends)
An Alphabet of Catholic Saints by Brenda and George Nippert. I read one page of this with my daughter every night as part of her bedtime routine. At two years old, she can identify many of the saints in here! We love this book! (Kara Starceski)
Another book by Jane Meyer with totally gorgeous illustrations, When God Made You. Explores the particularity of God's creation in each child with attention to their vocations and virtues. This is my go to gift for birthdays and baptismal anniversaries. I read it to my own daughter again and and again and she loves it. My husband and I wrote a verse for her and for each of the God children we have given it to. (Angela Compton Nelson)
The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso. I love using this book with my 2nd graders to talk about Mass and the importance of Mass being worth more than anything. It has beautiful illustrations, a king and queen, a bakery full of amazing baked goods. Has the feel of an old-fashioned fairy tale. There is a discussion guide you can find online for it and a Youtube of it being read. (Cindy Eimann Coleman)
A wonderful picture books for kids. The illustrations are fantastic. Most importantly (and why I recommend it) it really helps a child understand how amazing the Mass is and why the Mass is so important. (Tiffany Ghigliotti)
The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Bernard Scherrer and Catherine Scherrer. This book is what we use to emphasize the Church teachings on marriage and family and the beauty and purpose of cooperating with God's plan in procreation. The chapters are short with questions at the end to discuss with your child. Each chapter discusses different aspects of why and how God created our bodies and the spiritual aspects by highlighting Mary's role of carrying Jesus in her womb. We use it as a read aloud when our children start asking questions or by age 10 or so.
A Missal for Toddlers (Magnificat). Our 2.5-year-old daughter loves A Missal for Toddlers, published by Magnificat with Ignatius Press. It's been so helpful for her to begin making connections at Mass. (Katie Morroni)
The Mass Book by Donna Piscitelli and Rosemarie Gortler (and others by the same author). This is a GREAT first introduction for toddlers and preschoolers to what the Mass is. With my littlest ones, we pick one page a week to focus on and practice at Mass. (Andrea Lucero-Watje)
Building Blocks of ToB for Kids byMonica Ashour. This world is nuts and we need to start fighting the battle early. These books help guide my kids about the beauty and purpose of the human body. (Sara Estabrooks)
Shine: Choices to Make God Smile by Genny Monchamp and Karol Kaminski. This book introduces little ones to the fruits of the Holy Spirit. This book has been extremely helpful in teaching my son, at an early age, the reason to follow rules, not worry, and to be kind toward others. Many conversations have been had where he has asked, "Did I shine? Did God smile?" and, there may have been a few times where he has reminded me, "Mommy, you need to shine and make God smile." (Anni Harry) [See Anni's full review at her blog.]
A Little Book About Confession for Children by Kendra Tierney. This is a really thorough and accessible book about confession. Even I learned a few new things! It includes an examination of conscience and walks your child through a step-by-step confession. (Andrea Lucero-Watje)
Magnifikid! A parish I went to used to give these out for the kids during Mass. I'd like to get them for my son to start using. I think it's so important for them to be involved during the Mass. (Chelsea Hoyt)
A Child's Book of the Mass by Betsy Puntel and Hannah Roberts. I went to a Cathechesis of the Good Shepherd training/intro class held by the author of this book. We started reading it to our son and I like it 🙂 One of the best liturgical/catechetical Mass books for young children. The writers have done an exceptional job. (Amy Brooks)
Catechism of the Catholic Church. I often recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church to parents and young adults. And use it myself, frequently as a great resource for questions about what the church teaches and where do I begin when talking about aspects of the faith. It continues to prove helpful to me in my spiritual growth. I remember my mom often used the Catechism to field my questions when I was a kid. 🙂 (Angela Snyder)
Called to Serve: A Guidebook for Altar Servers by Father Albert J. Nevins. I'm a DRE & started giving this book to all of our altar servers to help them learn their role & its importance. The book provides a lot of detail, for example when discussing how to hold your hands in prayer when you are not doing a specific task, it tells how to cross your thumbs and what angle to hold your hands in relation to your body. (Cheryl Goheen)
The Catholic Children's Bible (Saint Mary's Press). My 9-year-old has really enjoyed his Catholic Children's Bible. It's the entire Bible, not just the big stories. We take it to Mass and he reads along. It's great. (Chelsea Holt)
Has 2-page spreads with "big stories" including illustrations and questions to enhance understanding. This is in addition to the complete text in order. (Cindy Eimann Coleman)
The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories by Zondervan. My oldest loved this! I enjoyed it with her! She hasn't picked it on a while now, but she wanted it as her bedtime story for months. One night, we turned the page and there was the new testament, starting with Jesus' birth, and she was so excited she rad out of the room to tell her dad that we were about to read about Jesus being born! That is a great memory for me. 🙂 (Rebecca Whittaker)
The Picture Bible by Iva Hoth. It is a comic-book style bible that is super engaging and enjoyable to read. I had one as a kid and read it cover to cover several times a year. Now my older two have done the same! I always recommend it as a first communion gift. (Andrea Lucero-Watje)
Chapter Books & YA Novels
Chime Travelers by Lisa Hendey. A great way to learn more about various saints through the eyes if 2 catholic children. Our kids love them and the second book my hubby read out loud to the kids when the little girl traveled back to meet St Kateri my son said this is my favorite part. When I ordered the next two books in the series he snuck them to his room to read them he was so excited. I couldn't be too upset with him because they are such amazing books! (Rachel Medlam Ormiston)
Our family loves the Chime Traveler series by Lisa M. Hendey. Our kids love the time-traveling adventure the children go on and my husband and I love how that adventure includes meeting a saint and learning about having a relationship with Our Lord and the importance of the sacraments while learning about the sacraments. Bonus at the end of each book are ten discussion questions. (Donna McCall)
Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers (USCCB Publishing). Hundreds of blessings and prayers for families, many drawn from the Book of Blessings. Includes blessings for almost any occasion you can think of, plus special prayers for feast days, and pretty much every prayer in the Catholic "library" of prayers. Very handy to have around for family prayer time. (Jerry Windley-Daoust)
Parenting advice & support
Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents' Guide to Raising almost Perfect Kids by Gregory K. Popcak and Lisa Popcak. It's a must have. Great info and advice on every stage of childhood. I refer back to it all the time. It's so helpful in reminding me to pursue my vocation as a mom, discipling my children. (Sara Estabrooks)
This book was recommended to me before our first child more than 13 years ago. It has been a real guide and resource to me so many times over the years, and a book I reread and reference each year as one of my children is a year older. I have given this as a gift to multiple moms, and all of them were very thankful. (Jennifer Cope)
A great read for parents to discuss where you stand on discipline as a parental unit and practical ways to live it out. (Liz Walsh Smalley)
A Mothers Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot. This series is good because it helps mom's figure out a schedule that works within their daily lives. (Rachel Medlam Ormiston)
A Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion by Lisa M. Hendey and Sarah A. Reinhard. A compilation of quotes, Scripture and reflections from a wide range of authors specifically for moms. (Cindy Eimann Coleman)
Raising Chaste Catholic Men by Leila Miller. It gives sound, practical advice for raising chaste kids (primarily written for moms of boys, but it is a good resource for raising girls, too). (JoAnna Wahlund)
It's a super practical and detailed approach to dealing with the sexual sins that are so common in our culture today. It's a tough subject to talk about with our kids and Leila gives you the theology and the words to use when trying to explain our counter cultural way of thinking. My son is only 2, but it is a book I will probably reread a dozen times before he's out of the house. (Mandy Farrage)
Rosaries Aren't Just For Teething: Reflections on Mary by Mothers. This was put together by some well known Catholic bloggers, some of whom I have been blessed enough to meet virtually. For me it's a collection of great Mama reflections reminding me to lean on my Mama in Heaven. (Therese Milbrath)
Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Your Daily Call to Think, Pray, and Act by Bean and Foss. I often recommend and gift [this book]. I find it a simple and concrete way to pray, live and practice virtues in family life. It often plays to the liturgical year as well. (Angela Snyder)
Love this book. It is such a great devotional for moms. (Tiffany Ghigliotti)
She Calls Me Daddy: 7 Things You Need to Know About Building a Complete Daughter by Robert Wolgemuth, It's a a must-read for every dad with daughters. It offers wonderful advice for fathers in a humorous and easy-to-read style. My husband has read it multiple times and has loaned it to his friends.
Lifeline: The Religious Upbringing of Your Children by James Stension. It has practical ways and ideas on how to help parents with the religious upbringing of their children in the faith. This book never goes out of style for basic truth are forever needed. It is easy to read with thoughts to ponder. (Ceci Escobedo blogs at HairBows4Life)
To Know the Savior by Michelle Gelineau. An easy to follow prayer guide and journal. This book will lead you through your prayer time using the inspired FAITH guide. With this book, prayer time and journaling become a natural part of your day. (Michelle Gelineau)