Mr. Shaun McAfee, O.P. is the author of Reform Yourself! and other books, is the founder and editor of EpicPew.com, and contributes to many online Catholic resources. He holds a Masters in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Shaun has made his temporary profession as a Lay Dominican and temporarily lives in Italy.
The McAfee kids love Catholic books and their collection grows by the week. We're constantly on the prowl for good kids books from Magnificat, Ignatius Press, Sophia Press, Regina Press, and other publishers. As they've grown, their tastes have changed, and even if they can't read completely on their own yet, they're able to listen to the stories of faith and prayer and reply with their questions and interests.
Having amassed so many Catholic children's books (and other books of the Christian faith), I wondered which ones were their favorites in order to provide parents out there with a recommendation of two. Gabriel, Tristan, and Dominic of Clan McAfee chose five of their favorites, and here they are:
Gabriel (6 1/2 years old)
Before I Was Me
A sweet book from Sophia Press, this one is also extremely unique: it tells a story about an unborn child in conversation with God. A true one-of-a-kind, I'm a personal fan of this book as well. I asked Gabriel why he enjoyed this book and he said, "Cause God had a baby and told him what to be. Then, he had parents who loved him." There you have it: a pithy summary! You can buy it at Sophia Press or on Amazon.
I Thank God for this Day
We love Veggie Tales—they're great at telling Bible stories and are downright hilarious. I still crack up at the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (part of the Jonah Story movie). So my kids are natural partakers as well. Gabriel said: "Everyone is so happy, and that's everyone's favorite thing to be, and I love it when everyone is happy." You can buy it at Amazon.
Saint Joseph Picture Books
I picked these up from a Catholic bookstore in Omaha, and they've easily become the best saints books for kids of all ages. And a serious value, too—12 books that tell the stories of 16 saints. From Joan of Arc to Magaret of Cortona, your kids will really love the more mature art and the way their stories are told. Gabriel said: "All saints are very good and they help us. They're in saint movies, and they help up, and I want to be like them." You can buy it at Amazon.
Catholic Faith from A to Z
An excellent and artful Catechism that discusses major and minor parts of the faith, from Mass to Easter and First Communion to what a monstrance is, this book encouragingly teaches children from 3-8 (I'd say). Gabriel said: "Cause God is the most powerful ever, he created everything so we can be happy." You can buy it at Ignatius Press and at Amazon.
Adventures of Lupio: The Inn and Other Stories
A fantastic multi-part series from Ignatius Press, Lupio is a 13th-century kid who learns about manners, faith, and morals. It's a comic-type read, and kids love that! "Everything in the adventures of life is what we have to find, and eating."—Gabriel. You can buy it at Amazon.
Tristan (4 1/2 years old)
In Mass, Tristan is undoubtedly heard above everyone else when we say the "Our Father." It's cute, but I think it also shows how special he believes this prayer is, and this book definitely had something to do with that. When I asked him why he chose this book, he said: "Because I love it." Easy enough. You can buy it at Ignatius Press and Amazon.
Catholic Baby Blessings Bible
Tristan and Gabriel were both given a copy of this children's Bible for their baptism, and they've cherished it since. If you can find the padded-pillow cover type version, your kid will love that even more. "Because Jesus is the Lord that keeps us safe."—Tristan. You can buy it at Amazon.
Catholic Baby's First Nativity
Tristan said: "Because Mary is the most one girl that's our Lady," but I think, like any kid, he thinks the handle on this book is really cool. He brings it to Mass almost every Sunday. You can buy it at Amazon.
Saints are Watching Over Me
"Because the saints are watching over me always." If you're a Catholic parent and haven't seen the Tiny Saints charmshttps://www.tinysaints.com/collections/all, you're missing out (and your kids are, too!). This sweet book is an excellent introduction to the saints for young children. The fact that it's from Tiny Saints probably makes it all the better. You can buy it at Amazon.
Who is Jesus? His Life, His Land, His Time
I love this book because it answers so many of the kid-type questions they already ask: Who were Jesus’ grandparents? What was his house like? What did Jesus’ disciples wear, and what did they eat? What did the Jerusalem Temple look like? What kind of fish did Peter catch in the Sea of Galilee? How did people pray back then? All their questions are answered. It’s another great title for kids from Ignatius Press.
Dominic (newly 2 years old)
My First Pictures of Jesus
Maite Roche's books with Ignatius Press and Magnificat are simple and wonderful ways to visually introduce your children to holy images. The importance of their seeing these images in their formative years is profoundly important as they will build memories and a foundation of faith for years to come. This book is available at Magnificat and Amazon.
A Missal for Toddlers
This book has been handed down from Gabriel to Tristan, and now to Dominic. The book is still in tact but because it was also used as a teething toy at least twice, I need to buy a new one. The book visually allows kids to follow the most important parts of the Mass from the opening entrance (where it instructs children to "shh") to the final blessing. I really love this one and you will, too. Buy it at Magnificat and Amazon.
Angels Surround Us
It's got a rattler on it—what's there not to love for a 1-2 year old? We got it on Amazon.