by Maria Jansen
My husband and I both grew up Catholic and have more than once been convinced of the powerful role of angels. When dreaming up names for our future children, we immediately agreed we wanted the three archangels to be special patrons of our family. Hence, Joseph Raphael, Gabriel Ignatius and John Paul Michael are the names of our first three boys.
Every fall as the feasts of the archangels Sept. 29 and guardian angels Oct. 2 approach, I am reminded how much my relationship with my guardian angel has fallen by the wayside, and I resolve to step it up and teach my children to love their angels as well. These yearly resolutions have led me to find some wonderful resources for our family to draw inspiration, and I am excited to share them with you!
“A Book of Angels: Stories of Angels in the Bible” by Marigold Hunt
The book I most highly recommend is “A Book of Angels.” We use this as one of our bedtime books, reading a chapter a night as our five children settle into their beds. It has often sparked thoughtful conversation, which great for their formation but not so great for keeping bedtime on schedule!
Writing in a comfortable, conversational tone, Hunt guides us through many, if not all the Bible stories involving angels. The stories are masterfully told in a style similar to Jim Weiss: slightly embellished to make the stories more engaging and relatable to the young audience, but remaining faithful to the story and theologically sound. And they are woven together so seamlessly that you feel they are all just a part of one big story (which, of course, they are!).
Each chapter contains one black and white illustration, following the style of the cover art. With so many angels depicted as naked babies or with feminine characteristics, I appreciate how the artwork portrays their true nature, as strong, mighty and a force with whom to be reckoned.
Because Hunt does a wonderful job setting you up, there is no need to be familiar with the Bible stories, allowing children as young as 2 or 3 to enjoy “A Book of Angels” as a read-aloud story. It would make a good independent read starting around age 7 or 8.
“Michael the Archangel: Protector of God’s People” by Barbara Yoffie
Having four boys, I was drawn to the book “Michael the Archangel” because of its superhero feel. It is a very short book (more of a booklet, actually) in the Saints for Communities set of the Saints and Me! series from Liguori Publications. Each two-page spread has an engaging paragraph and full-color illustration. The book touches on the creation of the angels, the battle and fall of some (led by Michael), symbols of St. Michael, his role as protector of the Church and pope, and the origin of the St. Michael prayer. The illustrations depict angels as strong, radiant, heroic and fearless, while Satan and the fallen angels are shown as ugly and wretched.
The book has two shortcomings. The illustrations of Mary are masculine, which is so bothersome to me I’m considering doctoring it! Also, since the book mentions the Prayer to St. Michael by Pope Leo XIII, I wish they would have included the text itself. But overall, this is a theologically sound, quick and engaging read-aloud book for younger kids and independent read for about ages 7 and up.
“Under Angel Wings: The True Story of a Young Girl and Her Guardian Angel” by Maria Antonia
“Under Angel Wings: The True Story of a Young Girl and Her Guardian Angel“ is the inspiring autobiography of a girl named Cecy Cony (later Sister Maria Antonia) who could see and hear her guardian angel during most of her life. From her accounts, we get real-life examples of how guardian angels protect us from dangers — both physical and moral — guide us through temptations and inspire us to be our best selves.
A book like this inspires us to deepen our relationship with our own guardian angels. Because of the length of the book and content, most kids would be ready for this around age 9, and girls will probably connect with her story a bit better than boys.
“Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know about Them” by Peter Kreeft
If you are wanting to go a bit deeper into your study of the angels, I recommend Peter Kreeft’s “Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know about Them?” Kreeft draws on Catholic tradition, the Scriptures and writings of St. Thomas Aquinas to separate fact from fiction regarding angels and demons. His Q&A format and clear, concise style are a good fit for busy, somewhat distracted moms like me.
“Always At Our Side” by Holy Family Press
While not a book, I must mention my family’s favorite resource about angels called “Always At Our Side” by Holy Family Press. This CD is a collection of 10 dramatized true stories of angels guiding and protecting people. One is from the life of Cecy Cony, author of the book mentioned above. These are great in the car or to put on at bedtime when we’re too busy to read aloud to our kids.
Holy Family Press also offers a similar dramatized compilation about eucharistic miracles and one about Mary, and all of them make great gifts for godchildren.
Do you have a favorite book about angels our family should check out this year? Tell me about it in the comments!
Maria Jansen is a mother of five in St. Louis. She is a homeschooling mom and with her husband runs two small family businesses: The Easy Chicken and Jansen Sharpening.