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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

Author(s):
Robert M. Edsel

"The Monuments Men" is an engaging a little known story about servicemen who specialized in trying to preserve the art and culture of Europe during World War II. Not only were they involved in trying to get the Allies to do as little damage as possible in fighting the war, but it became almost another front of the war with Hitler, who not only stole and hoarded unbelievable quantities of art (in order to create his own "Fuhrermuseum"), but also gave orders to destroy these hoards of art as the Allies made headway into Germany.

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Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line

Author(s):
Karen Edmisten

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories about famous (and at times infamous) people who converted to Catholicism after many years of wrestling with God. The author handles their often tough life stories with gentleness and understanding, and with special attention to God's grace working through friends and family members who stuck with these individuals in good times and in bad.

Many of the stories include very messy life situations - including extra-marital affairs and abortions - but, of course have a good ending. For that reason, (besides recommending that you preview it for your children!) I think it's best suited for older teens, and would make a great jumping off point for discussions about how to be "salt of the earth".

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Popes Who Resigned

Author(s):
Thomas Craughwell

This is a fascinating (and very quick read) e-book that briefly outlines the stories of popes who resigned or were deposed (most of them in much more tumultuous circumstances than Pope Benedict XVI. It's a nice way to get a quick glimpse at how complex our church history is (which offers some great perspective for the struggles of our own days) as well as a nice overview of what the papacy means to us and where it comes from. Also included are a brief historical and biblical overview of the origins of the papacy and a lovely series of quotes from popes throughout the centuries on the concept of the papacy itself.

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Little Britches

Author(s):
Ralph Moody

We are now in the middle of the Little Britches series, written by Ralph Moody. I cannot speak for Ralph Moody's later books, or his fiction. I am referring to his series of books for children which are also his autobiography. The books have all of the elements you would expect in a good story and more! Family love, courage, disappointments and celebrations, birth, death, creativity and adventures galore.

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Behold and See 6

Author(s):
RoseMary C. Johnson

Recently during our school hours the iPad told us of a new study on salmon behavior--a link to it was posted by a prolific Facebook friend.

It was an "Aha moment"! We are using Behold and See 6 for Science and had read recently about the curious and amazing behavior of the salmon: it returns to the very place it was born to lay its eggs even after years in the open ocean. The article in question was about a new study where scientists think the salmon may actually use earth's magnetism to help direct them on their way back to their birthplace.

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The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

Book cover: 'The Librarian Who Measured the Earth'
Author(s):
Kathryn Lasky

This is a fascinating story, told for children and fully illustrated (beautiful full color pictures with interesting and at times humorous details) of the Greek scientist, mathematician and astronomer - Eratosthenes. (Don't worry - the author does help you to pronounce the name). Eratosthenes was born in the 3rd century B.C. in the country we now call Libya to Greek parents. There he was educated in the classical Greel tradition and developed a keen interest in the world around him. As a young man he was sent to Athens to study where he became known as a scholar and historian. At 30 he was appointed tutor to the son of the King Ptolemy II of Egypt and so he settled in Alexandria. He became involved in the great Library at Alexandria where he eventually became head librarian.

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Home in the Cave

Author(s):
Janet Halfmann
Illustrator(s):
Shennen Bersani

Baby Bat learns about the importance of guano to a cave's ecosystem in Janet Halfmann's new book "Home in the Cave." Children learn about bats and other creatures that live in caves through the exploration of Baby Bat and his pack rat friend. As with all Sylvan Dell books, the last pages contain more information and activities related to the story. Don't let the insects and guano deter you from this fun and informative book!

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A Doorway of Amethyst

Author(s):
Mary Daly

Here is a geology text that assumes no conflict between Christianity and science and is faithful to Church teaching. This book covers basic topics in geology, including the Earth's age and composition, the dynamics of continental plate motion, classification of rocks and soil, effects of glaciers, radiometric dating, and more. The illustrations are lovely and hand-drawn – not what you would expect in a textbook. However, I prefer a few glossy photographs as well, but you can find these on the internet. I was unfamiliar with many of the geologic terms so I learned a lot along side my 12-year-old daughter. I especially appreciated the author's explanation of evolution in the appendix and Chapter 11 on the geologic column in the Williston Basin.

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J. R. R. Tolkien

Author(s):
Alexandra Wallen
Illustrator(s):
John Wallen

The author and illustrator pair have done many children's picture books together, including the nice "Picture Book of..." American history series.

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The Chronicle of Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Author(s):
D. Salomon, editor

Many books cover large periods of history, but I've yet to see one that includes so many personal experiences and fascinating stories in such a stunning, sweeping manner as does The Chronicle of Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Most of us will never set foot in the Holy Land. Traveling there is a lot easier than it used to be, but, for me and most of the families I know, living our vocation takes up every spare minute—and most of our money. Nevertheless, we each have a strong and devotional attraction to the Holy Land. The Chronicle is an excellent means to feed that natural devotion we already have for the places where Jesus lived, worked and died.

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