CatholicMom-booknotes-logo1-550x169As a mother of six, I am constantly on the lookout for good books for my children. Whether they are colorful picture books for my preschooler, classic tales to read as a family or lengthier novels for my tween daughter, my hope is to surround my children with books, so that they will develop a love for reading and an appreciation for quality literature.

Not every book that comes into our home is a winner, though. These days, I have to sift through a lot of books that are either too silly or too inappropriate for my kids. This is why I truly appreciate trustworthy recommendations from other moms, who are on the lookout for good books for their children, too.

Today, I am returning the favor of the many fantastic book suggestions I have received over the years and recommending two books to you. From one mom to another.

The Sisters of the Last Straw

9780989941136 Image courtesy of Chesterton Press.

Last year, when I was shopping for Easter basket gifts, I came across a new series published by Chesterton Press called Sisters of the Last Straw by Karen Kelly Boyce. In a nutshell, it is about a group of sisters that try very hard to overcome their bad habits. For example, Mother Mercy has a bad temper, while Sister Shiny can’t stop cleaning and Sister Krumbles struggles with forgetfulness. Along the way, they learn to love God and bear with one another’s faults. Problems and mysteries seem to find this group of sisters, and they learn to work together to overcome them.

This series seemed perfect for my (then) eight-year-old daughter who was just starting to enjoy reading on her own. I purchased the first book, The Case of the Haunted Chapel, and much to my delight, she loved it! So, I purchased the second book, The Case of the Vanishing Novice, for her to read over summer vacation.

I couldn’t believe how absorbed she was in these books! Looking back, I think this series really helped her jump from knowing how to read to loving to read! She told me all about the anecdotes that the sisters encountered, and she recommended these books to her siblings, who also read them.

This fall, when the third book, The Case of the Stolen Rosaries, came out, I finally decided to see for myself why my daughter was so drawn to this series about a group of sisters. I read it aloud to three of my daughters, and all of us were instantly absorbed in the fun storyline.

Someone is stealing rosaries from the sisters’ gift shop, even though the sisters make sure the convent doors are locked every night. Meanwhile, Sister Krumbles has to overcome her fear of the new rooster, who keeps pecking at her when she tries to feed him and the chickens. And the entire community tries to plan a surprise birthday party for Mother Mercy, but of course there are setbacks along the way.

Each night, my girls begged for another chapter. “But it’s so good,” my 10-year-old daughter exclaimed. Yes, it is so good, which is why I recommend The Case of the Stolen Rosaries as well as the entire Sisters of the Last Straw series. Like my children, I enjoyed the story and appreciated the humor and mystery. Especially when we select a read aloud book, it helps to find one that parents like just as much as the children!

One other aspect of this book series that I like is that these sisters are real people! So often, we can automatically place sisters, brothers, priests and even certain Catholic families on a more-holy-than-me pedestal. The fact is that no matter what our vocation, we are human, we are imperfect, and we struggle with bad habits or difficult circumstances. This series reminds the reader of this truth and helps us see one another in a more realistic, compassionate light.

9781940209043 Image courtesy of Caritas Press.

Miraculous Me

Before parents even meet their child for the first time, they cannot help but wonder about the person growing within the mother’s womb. Will this child be a boy or a girl? Will she be adventurous? Will he be studious?

When a baby is first born, the parents’ dreams for the child continue to grow. What kind of past times will she enjoy? What kind of books will he read? What will she be when she grows up?

Especially for young children, Miraculous Me by Ruth Pendergast Sissel is a beautiful book about the hopes and dreams parents have for their children, before they are even born.

In one part, the unborn child shares what his parents are thinking when they see the ultrasound images for the first time:

When the picture of me appears, Momma exclaims with joyful tears, ‘Those precious feet, with those wondrous toes! Where in this world are they destined to go?’ Daddy says, ‘Look at those fingers! What perfect design! I can’t wait ‘til they are wrapped around mine.’

With colorful illustrations by Tina Tolliver Matney, Miraculous Me incorporates a variety of delightful scenarios that are part of a growing child’s life, such as baking cookies with Mom, building sandcastles on the beach, and deciding on a vocation or career. All of which parents cannot help but wonder about from the very beginning. Most importantly, the parents’ prayer for the child is that no matter what happens in life, he always knows that God wonderfully made him, and that God will be his guide no matter what.

Published by Caritas PressMiraculous Me makes a wonderful baby shower gift as well as a gift for a young child or any family. In addition, Miraculous Me can be used as a teaching aid to gently teach children of all ages about the sanctity of human life.

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You're next! Have you recently read a book with your children that you'd like to recommend to other moms? If so, please share the titles in the comments section below!

Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm. All rights reserved.