Easter

A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families

Book cover: 'A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families'
Author(s): 
Monica McConkey
Copyright: 
2001
Publisher: 
Arma Dei Family Ministry
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
299 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

with laminated "jelly-proof" covers

During the past few years, there has been a renewed interest in beginning and in continuing traditions within our families within the context of the liturgical year. This book has been written to help make these celebrations easier to plan as well as to provide countless new ideas. Some of these ideas are original while others are traditional. This book is especially well-suited for families with children in the preschool years up through the late elementary years.

The majority of the suggestions for each month are craft-oriented or games that are sure to appeal to younger children. For example, January 17th is the memorial of St. Anthony, patron of basket makers. The book gives a very simple biography of St. Anthony, suggests a "prayer habit", and includes the directions for making a basket out of bread dough. The description for the Feast of the Ascension includes detailed directions for making a kite to ascend to the heavens in addition to directions for making bubble-blowers and bubble solution. Ordinary Time saints' days include a lengthy section describing the making of Catholic games that will help in learning the catechism and in remembering the Saints. Names of some of the games are Jell-O Box Jeopardy, Catechism Categories, Holy Rummoli, and Lists and Levels; don't they sound interesting and fun to play?

The book is organized by the liturgical calendar, beginning with a New Year's Eve party for the beginning of the Church year just prior to the start of the Advent season and continues on to the Feast of Christ the King in late November. The dates and feast days are those of the modern Church calendar, although the listings for some dates include those saints not found on the revised Roman calendar. There are more ideas and suggestions than a family could possibly do; this book should keep your family busy for many, many years. It will be an excellent addition to your family library and a good companion to a book of saint's stories or of church history.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
2-4-02
Reviewed by: 

A Year With God

Celebrating the Liturgical Year
Book cover: 'A Year With God: Celebrating the Liturgical Year'
Copyright: 
2005
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Binding: 
Spiralbound
Number of pages: 
261 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

A Year With God is simply THE purchase of the year! Completely original, inspiring, and unique, the abundance of fresh ideas and activities will re-energize your religion class and re-motivate you to make your homeschool a truly Catholic school in every sense of the word. Spanning the liturgical year, A Year With God contains hundreds of carefully detailed and illustrated projects and activities. Nearly all of these can be extended into several other projects, giving you many, many years of exciting projects to work on with your students.

The Table of Contents begins with "Celebrate Advent and Christmas", continues with "Celebrate Lent and Easter", and concludes with "Celebrate Ordinary Time". This overview will provide you with an easy-to-use reference to the book, but even more valuable is the "Index of Activities" in the back of the book. This Index is arranged by the calendar year and provides page and activity references to specific Feast Days of the Church. Have you ever considered celebrating The Feast of St. Nicholas? Or the Annunciation of the Lord? Or the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows? Now you have ready-to-go plans for these and hundreds of other special days.

Plays, craft projects, dramatic readings, games, drawings, hands-on learning, writing projects and much more employ all of the various styles of learning. Also included are the most popular longer-term projects from the CHC Lesson Plans. Many families have purchased the lesson plan sets just to have access to these enriching ideas. The wide range of projects and activities appeal to all age groups as well. I have a sixteen-year age-range between students in my own homeschool, and there are enjoyable activities for everyone, including me! The extensive artwork is professional, orthodox, and pleasing while remaining accessible and comprehensible to everyone. Produced with a variety of easily-read fonts on creamy, thick paper, the book is a joy to read while allowing both durability and excellent reproduction quality. CHC has permitted that activity pages may be copied for immediate family members, further extending the usefulness of the book. Arrangements can also be made for group copyright permissions; this is a terrific way to introduce these activities into homeschool cooperative groups, sacramental preparation classes, and other group situations.

Every other book that we have used as we have celebrated the liturgical year has been tied to the cultural traditions of different countries around the world. While we have enjoyed these experiences, there are plenty of books available to learn about them. A Year With God is different from these books; it does not include such popular and well-known traditions as the Christmas Tree or the baking of Hot Cross Buns. A Year With God is focused on the truly spiritual and universally Catholic in a way that develops and fosters growth in virtue and holiness. The richness and depth of our Faith comes alive in a way that is unforgettable, both to the student and the teacher. Take the time to really read through and use this book. It will be a blessing to your family!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Copyrights 2003/2005

Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula

Review Date: 
11-5-03
Reviewed by: 

Easter

Book cover: 'Easter'
Author(s): 
Fiona French
ISBN: 
1 586 170 244
Copyright: 
2002
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Number of pages: 
28 pages
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

A gorgeous presentation of the Easter story! Fiona French tells the story in twelve stained glass tableaux: the entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus judged before Pilate, the scourging at the pillar, the carrying of the cross, the crucifixion, taking him from the cross and laying him in the tomb, the resurrection, meeting with doubting Thomas, the loaves and fishes by the Sea of Tiberius, the Ascension into heaven. The images are inspired by stained glass in the English cathedrals of Ely, Lincoln, York,and Canterbury and are rich in traditional details.

The effect is rather more like guiding a child on a tour of a church, examining the artwork and explicating it than reading a story of Jesus' life. Which is a plus for me as I love the didactic art in old churches. I especially adore stained glass and love the way French uses its conventions.

The text is taken from the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, though I think it is edited some. This isn't the full text of the Gospel, just short passages of a paragraph or two that caption the picture. I like that it doesn't water down the Biblical language with too-simple paraphrases and yet doesn't overwhelm with too much text either. My three-year old is quite captivated by this book asking for it to be read again and again and pointing to the pictures and requesting further explanations of the images.

Review Date: 
4-7-2009
Reviewed by: 

The Easter Story

Book cover: 'The Easter Story"
Author(s): 
Brian Wildsmith
ISBN: 
679 847 278
Copyright: 
1993
Publisher: 
Alfred A. Knopf
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This book tells the story of the passion and resurrection from the point of view of the donkey that carried Christ on his back. "The little donkey had never been ridden before, but Jesus spoke gently to him, and soon he stopped being afraid." The donkey (and an angel companion who is never mentioned in the text but is always present in the scenes) follows along after the entrance into Jerusalem and witnesses the primary events of the Gospel narratives including the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Ascension.

Beautiful soft watercolor illustrations with gold highlights on each page bring the story to life. The language strikes a nice balance being neither overly simple nor overly flowery.

Most pleasing to me, the Eucharistic language of the Last Supper is maintained:

"Take and eat this," said Jesus, holding the bread. "It is my body." And the donkey watched as Jesus lifted up a cup of wine. "Take and drink this,"Jesus said. "It is my blood."

The bloody details of the passion are gently minimized so this book is easily read to even the youngest toddlers. For example, there are no details about the scourging just the mockery of the soldiers:

So the soldiers took Jesus away. They put a crown of thorns on his head and made fun of him. 'Hail the King of the Jews!' they said. They gave him a huge cross of wood and forced him to carry it.

A this point the donkey wishes he could help Jesus carry the cross and Simon of Cyrene does help Jesus. I like the way the donkey becomes a stand-in for the child and how this aside opens up a space to discuss with the child how we can help Jesus carry his cross. And the crucifixion and death are all covered in a simple statement: "They crucified him between two thieves." The narrative moves directly from that to Joseph requesting the body from Pilate. This allows the adult reader to help a sensitive child navigate the more difficult aspects of the passion narrative.

The donkey witnesses the resurrection and the ascension and then returns home:

And the donkey stayed there the rest of his life, remembering the kind and good man he had carried on his back to Jerusalem.

I'm not thrilled with reducing Jesus to a "kind and good man" in the final sentence. There are plenty of stories and pious legends about animals recognizing the divinity of Christ and I'd have preferred the story take that tack. But it isn't a terrible distortion of Christ. At least the book covers all the essentials of the story.

This is a good introduction to Easter and works well with my three-year old's level of understanding and her attention span. It will appeal to older children as well.

Review Date: 
4-7-2009
Reviewed by: