Saints for Children by Kathie Johnson

Saints for Children

Every year, as October draws to a close, I feature in my library an array of books on Halloween themes. But since the day after Halloween is All Saints Day, I also feature a display of books about saints. These books have become popular in recent years, as parents seem interested in finding books about people who offer their children different role models from the ones they usually see in their everyday world. I originally thought I could cover this topic in a single column, but once begun, I realized there was so much material on saints and other Christian heroes that two columns would be better.

I'll begin with books that are collections of stories about saints. England's Ladybird "easy reading" series has a First Book of Saints that introduces young readers to Saints George, Andrew, Patrick, and Christopher, among others. Each page of text has a facing page with a brightly colored picture.

Ethel Pochocki has put together two collections: Once Upon a Time Saints and More Once Upon a Time Saints. The first book covers saints whose names begin with the letters A through H, including Alice, Ambrose, Benedict of San Fradello, Clement, Edward the Confessor, Elizabeth of Portugal, and others. Each story is about four pages long, with nice line drawings to complement the text. The second book covers saints with names from the latter part of the alphabet, including Kentigern, Martha, Melangell, Pharaildis, Servulus, and Simeon. The author says she chose lesser-known saints for this volume, because she was drawn to their stories and wants others to know about them.

Louis Savary's The Children's Book of Saints is aimed at American children. It includes 53 saints, with just one page of text, as well as a picture, on each one. Among the saints featured are Agnes, Augustine, Anthony of Padua, Bernadette, Elizabeth Seton, Francis Xavier, Jude, Peter Claver, and Vincent De Paul.

Carole Armstrong's Lives and Legends of the Saints is notable for being illustrated with reproductions of fine art paintings from some of the great art museums of the world. There are twenty saints in this volume, with a page of text and a painting provided for each one. Here you will find depictions of Saints Apollonia, Dorothy, Eustace, Joseph, Lucy, Michael, and more.

Collections for Early & Advanced Readers

The five books mentioned above are right for the "middle reader," with not too much print on a page. Even simpler is Arlene Marguerite Graston's Special Friends: Tales of Saints and Animals, which includes the stories of Jerome and the lion, Germaine and her sheep, Ciaran and the deer, and three others.

For the more advanced reader, The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs by Margaret Mulvihill is a good choice. Richly illustrated with paintings and photographs, this book covers saints from the New Testament, such as Thomas, James, and John; saints from the days of the Roman Empire, such as Bede and Benedict; and saints from the Middle Ages and Reformation, such as Hildegard, Dominic, and Ignatius Loyola.

There is also Joyce Denham's Stories of the Saints, illustrated with richly colored woodcuts. This book covers fourteen saints, including Peter, Paul, Laurence, Francis of Assisi, and Elizabeth of Portugal.

Finally, there is Carol Greene's Beggars, Beasts, and Easter Fire: Stories of the Early Saints. There are stories of twenty saints here, each starting with a lovely illustration and then several pages of text. Included are Nicholas, Patrick of Ireland, Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, Hedwig of Poland, Sergius of Radonezh, and Teresa of Avila.

Books on Columba


Kathie Johnson has always had a love for children's books. She collected many as a teacher and began sharing them with other teachers. In 1986, she opened a children's library in her home, and it has continued to expand over the years. Many home-schooled and schooled children borrow books from it, and she takes great pleasure in finding the "right" book for a child. She attends First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.


more on childrens books from the online archives

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