With Great Lent coming up, I always try to pick a particular book that is connected to my Orthodox Christian faith. This year I've selected Thirty Steps to Heaven by Vassilios Papavassiliou. It directly pertains to understanding the Ladder of Divine Ascent and applying the lessons of the monastic text to our everyday lives.
I don't know whether it's because I homeschool or because I'm an Orthodox Christian mother or both-- but I always think 'what can I do for my child during this season?' as well. It's probably more just the mother in me than anything. My older children are old enough now to decide for themselves. They have an understanding of what Lent is about and know what things we have done in the past during the season to prepare ourselves for Holy Pascha and place extra focus on our relationship with God during this season- even more so than usual. They know Lent gives us a chance to enter fully into that relationship and focus on the upcoming Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. They know it's a chance to get back on track and remind ourselves of what we should be doing all year. They know it is a season filled with extra church services, prayer and fasting.
But my youngest is six. So he needs more guidance. And while he will of course be going to those services, I've pondered over thoughts of what we could do this year to make the Lenten season more meaningful to him and focus on his own relationship to God, I came to wonder what books we could use - if you know me in person or by my blog- you know I have a tight relationship with books! I view them as friends and they are a wonderful way to deepen our children's knowledge and begin a wonderful conversation about what is important in our lives! I wondered what others use.
Below is a list of books I have found on my internet searches, on my own shelves and what others have shared with me as good sources/books to use during Lent. Of course, many of these, if not all, can be used any time of the year and should be. But if you are wondering what some good books are to add to your collection or to use during this season in preparation for Holy Pascha, perhaps this list can help you. I'd love to add to it- so if you know of others, please share with me so I can add to the list ! I have tried to order them in terms of age, interest levels, etc. Of course, you know your child or children better than me or anyone else. So review the links (I'll provide them if I have them) and make your decisions accordingly. I will mark with an * those that I have indeed read for myself. Hopefully , at some point, I can add some book reviews on these for your use.
Happy reading and God Bless!
The Story of Easter by Patricia Pingry - a lovely picture book for small ones, ages 2-5.
*Getting to Know God by John Kosmas Skinas - another lovely picture book for small ones, ages 2-6, that accentuate the sense we use in our Orthodox Faith.
*Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco - a lovely folktale picture book telling of Ukrainian eggs for 4-8 year olds.
In The Candle's Glow by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson - A beautifully illustrated picture book tells of Felicia taking the fruit of the bee and the beekeeper's efforts , lighting her and how she prays. This story is for ages 2-8.
*The Hidden Garden by Jane G Meyer - A picture book parable encouraging children to open the gate to Christ and tend to the garden their heart. It is suitable for ages 4-9.
The Blackbird's Nest: Saint Kevin of Ireland by Jenny Schroedel THis lovely book tells of Kevin who learned an unforgettable lesson from an unforgettable teacher. This book is suited for ages 6-10.
*Catherine's Pascha by Charlotte Riggle With delightful intricate illustrations and a lovely tale, children will learn much about the celebration of Pasch with this book geared for ages 4-10.
*The Miracle of the Red Egg by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson For ages 4-10, this picture book shares the story of St. Mary Magdalene and the miracle that occurred in the presence of an unbelieving Roman emperor.
*Pictures of God: A Child's Guide to Understanding Icons by John Kosmas Skinas A lovely picture book for ages 5-12, explaining in simple terms what each icon means and the importance of these people and stories in our lives.
Holy Week and Pascha by J Euphemia Briere The book takes will take the child, ages 5-12, through the period in the life of Christ starting at the raising of Lazarus to the Resurrection, as reflected in the Divine Services of the Church.
Lent! Wonderful Lent! by Debra Sancer This book offers a summary of the weeks of lent for children, ages 4-10.
Glorious Pascha by Debra Sancer This book offers a nice summary of the days of Holy Week. for ages 5-12.
*From God to You: The Icon's Journey to Your Heart by John Kosmos Skinas This book, a nice addition to the library of 6-12, is a nice follow-up to Pictures of God, introducing children to ancient icon archetypes and encourages children to "mindfully consider icons and their stories as windows of inspiration and doorways to prayer."
St. Seraphim's Beatitudes: Blessings for Our Path to Heaven by Priest Daniel Mar This book contains short sayings patterned after the Lord's Beatitudes in clear, memorable phrases.
*From I-ville to You-ville by Mersine Vigopoulou Wonderfully written and appropriate for ages 6-12, this best selling Orthodox Christian children's book of Greece, is a Christian allegory reminiscent of Pilgrim's Progress. A young man makes his way from I-ville to the unknown, long-for kingdom of You-ville, a kingdom where humility and kindness have their home and people put the good of others first.
*Journey To Pascha: An Explanation of the Holy Week Services by Ayman Kfouf This book was recommended to me as a lovely guide to older children as it offers a simplified explanation of the theological and liturgical themes of the services of the Great and Holy Week.
The Zacchaeus Tree: A family guide through the season of the Great Fast by Lynne Wardach While seemingly written for Byzantine Catholics from what I can tell, it seems to offer a nice prepatory discussion of the season and daily meditations for children and adults for throughout Lent.