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Leslea Wahl offers faith-based book recommendations for readers of all ages, just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping.

Looking for some last-minute gift ideas? Faith-based books offer the gift of adventure, knowledge, and inspiration. Below are suggestions for each member of the family. 


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Wisdom Finds a Way by Cathy Gilmore 

Wisdom Finds a Way is a sweet story about the Nativity as experienced by a surprising observer—Amel the Camel. The Virtue Heroes picture books, written by Cathy Gilmore and illustrated by Jeanie Egolf, are a delightful series that shares biblical stories told from the perspective of animals. The stories and illustrations are precious and provide an excellent introduction to the wonders of our faith. 


Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree by Claudia Cangilla McAdam 

St. Boniface’s fascinating tale is brought to life through this delightful picture book as Kristoph, a young orphan, and the missionary priest venture out one Christmas Eve. St. Boniface’s imagery of the evergreen—its perpetual green branches which reflect endless life as they point toward heaven—is sure to inspire readers. As you gather as a family around your Christmas tree this year, may this book be a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.  


Molly McBride and the Christmas Pageant by Jean Schoonover-Egolf 

Kindergartener Molly McBride is so excited about Christmas, especially the Christmas Pageant. When Molly’s innocent enthusiasm causes a few problems, she learns a lesson in obedience. The Molly McBride books are fun stories with engaging illustrations and wonderful messages.   


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The Strangers at the Manger by Lisa M. Hendey 

This book is part of Catholic Mom founder Lisa M. Hendey’s Chime Travelers series. This adventure follows twins Katie and Patrick as they magically travel to the night Jesus was born. This is a fun way for kids to think more deeply about the Holy Family and their story. I love how the author not only informs readers about biblical events and saints through these stories, but she always offers a lesson that readers can take to heart and learn from. 


Margaret’s Night in Saint Peter's by Jon M. Sweeney 

Meet Margaret, the cat. She is no ordinary feline. You see, Margaret is the Pope’s cat. Author Jon M. Sweeney has written several stories about Margaret’s adventures in the Vatican. This particular book focuses on the events leading up to Christmas Mass. With so many people milling around, Margaret’s natural curiosity is piqued, which may just get her into a bit of trouble. The bonus of this cute story is that the reader learns about the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and traditions of the Church. 


The Case of the Christmas Tree Capers by Karen Kelly Boyce 

The Sisters of the Last Straw series is a delightful set of books about the misadventures of a quirky group of nuns. The whole family will enjoy the humor of this Christmas adventure as the misfit Sisters attempt to discover who is behind the disappearing Christmas trees.  



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St. Nicholas the Wonderworker by Andrew Votipka 

This is the second book in The Mr. Baker’s Book Series. These books are fun adventures that introduce readers to some incredible saints. Mr. Baker’s catechism classes are literally brought to life through a special time-traveling book. The stories are light-hearted but offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of some faithful servants of God. The stories include some factual tidbits, along with plenty of humor around modern day kids traveling back to ancient times. 


Treachery and Truth by Katy Huth Jones 

Treachery and Truth is the exciting true story of Good King Wenceslas. Katy Huth Jones writes a beautiful story about this beloved Czech Duke, a faithful Christian during a time filled with pagan gods, betrayal, and war. The story is cleverly written through the eyes of the duke’s faithful servant, which was an intriguing way to tell this story. Though it’s a work of fiction, the story is based on the facts known about this historical figure and draws the reader into his fascinating life.  


Deception in December by Doreen McAvoy 

Deception in December is the second book in Doreen McAvoy’s middle-grade Fern Valley Mystery series. Twins Will and Wendy, along with their friends, find themselves involved in an intriguing adventure set at the town’s mysterious Mayfield mansion. As Christmas nears, can the twins and their friends uncover who is behind the strange happenings around town that threaten to tear their friend group apart? Join the residents of Fern Valley in this heart-warming Christmas-time caper.  



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Gifts: Visible & Invisible by CatholicTeenBooks authors 

Gifts: Visible & Invisible is a collection of Christmas-y stories written by eight different CatholicTeenBooks.com authors, including two Catholic Mom contributors. This anthology is a great way to introduce readers to different author’s unique styles and is full of inspiring Christmas stories designed to help make Christmas a little bit more meaningful. The contemporary, historical, dystopian, and saintly stories each feature a gift and the importance of helping others. 


The Secret of Glaston Tor by Donal Anthony Foley 

Matt is excited to travel to England to spend Christmas with his cousins. However, as soon as he lands in England, his trip is plagued with odd incidents. Thankfully, his cousins, Annie and Luke, take him to see the ruins of Glaston Tor, a tourist site he’s been anxious to explore. But, if he thought his day was strange before his tour, things get downright bizarre. A strange light at the historical ruins leads them through a strange portal where a mysterious man offers them the adventure of a lifetime. This thrilling time-travel adventure not only explores a piece of history in a unique way but delves into some fascinating questions of faith.  


A Very Jurassic Christmas by Corinna Turner 

Corinna Turner’s unSPARKed series is a collection of short stories set in a dystopian world where dinosaurs once again roam the earth. These unique installments are filled with exciting adventures and characters of deep faith. If you have enjoyed these books in the past, you’ll enjoy joining these characters on their winter adventure. If you haven’t read this series, don’t worry: this Christmas story gives a festive glimpse into the characters and unique world that Turner has created. I have a feeling you’ll want to check out more from this series. 



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Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk 

This Catholic Romance is the story of Dan and Emily and the journey they must take to find a real, faith-based relationship. I loved how real this story is. This is Catholic Mom contributor Carolyn Astfalk’s expertise: creating real characters with real issues. This story has plenty of sweet romantic moments, but it also has all the grit and problems of real life. Let’s face it: mistakes from the past can affect our future. It’s difficult to let go of the pain and the guilt from the poor decisions we make. The only way to get over these past wounds is to turn to Christ, to let Him wrap us in forgiveness, and for us to truly believe we are forgiven.  


From Afar by Roger Thomas 

I absolutely loved this fascinating fictional look into the Three Wise Men. While we all know of these three mysterious men, there is little that is actually known about them. The author takes us on a fictional journey into how these men knew about the birth of a King and why they were even interested in this Jewish king. I was expecting an interesting story but was blown away by this exciting, adventurous tale that I couldn’t put down. I will never think of the Three Wise Men in the same way ever again.  


The Diaries of Joseph and Mary by Dennis McGeehan 

This novel is a fictional yet possible, unique look into the lives of Joseph and Mary. The book consists of diary entries beginning when they were children. Seeing their story unfold through these personal accounts was quite intriguing. The author used his imagination but also Catholic tradition and historical facts to create this fascinating book. This short book brings the Holy family to life and challenges the reader to contemplate the lives of Mary and Joseph. 




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The Boys Upstairs by Jane Lebak  

This is the first book in Jane Lebak’s Father Jay series. This is a fairly short book, but don’t let its size fool you; there is a lot of depth to this story about family, faith, and second chances. The story revolves around Father Jay and his estranged brother, Kevin, a jaded police officer. When Kevin encounters three homeless children during the holiday season, he must turn to his brother for help. As they work together, Kevin begins to see his view of faith in a new light. 


Joy to the World by Scott Hahn  

This is a powerful non-fiction book to help deepen anyone’s faith journey. Biblical scholar Scott Hahn always does an amazing job of providing deep theological issues in an understandable way. This book focuses on the Holy Family and that forever-changing first Christmas, and is full of incredible insights. If you’re looking for a book to enhance the Christmas season, you may want to check this one out. 


Drinking with Saint Nick by Michael P. Foley  

I haven’t tried all the drinks in this book, but my husband and I have enjoyed a few of the cocktails in the original Drinking with the Saints books. This edition is set up as an advent book with stories about St. Nicholas and other saints. Different drinks are matched with the various saints. Not only do you get to find out a bit about them on their feast day, but you also get a fun cocktail recipe. Within the pages of this book, you’ll also find toasts, blessings, and even some punch recipes that the younger family members can enjoy. 



Copyright 2023 Leslea Wahl
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