Top 10 Tips for College Prep

I often get calls from homeschool moms asking me about college preparation and recommendations for their high school kids.  So I put together for you my TOP TEN TIPS for college prep:

1. Begin to talk about college plans with your child as early as freshman year of high school.  This helps you to develop goals for your high school curriculum, spiritually, academically and extra-curricular.

2. Keep a file for your high school student where you can collect transcript info, test grades, awards, course descriptions and extra curricular activities.

3. I have my children begin practicing for the SAT, ACT or the new CLT by taking the real tests that come directly from the test providers in their junior year.

 – I do this by having them get up early, just as if they were going to take the real test.

 – Do all three hours at one sitting, complete with me acting as the proctor.

  – Then we go over the completed test and make note of the types of          questions that gave them the most trouble.

 – We spend the next two weeks practicing these types of problems, then take the test again.

catholic homeschool

4. I have had good experiences in sending our children to the summer programs offered by good Catholic colleges our children were interested in. We found it gave them an experience to try out the curriculum, as well as meet potential future classmates.

5. During our children’s junior year, spring semester, or either semester in their senior year,  I have them take classes at our local community college.  I call this “boot camp for college.”

– It really helped all of our seven children adjust to the speed with which a college level class moves and to manage their study time as well as being able to ask for help when they needed it.  They gain confidence in their ability to interact in a classroom situation. They also were able to get college credit for the class.

– I usually have had them take a math class. It helps give their college applications some clout such as, “this homeschooler passed a college class and mom didn’t just hand out A’s…those grades are real.” This can also help in their freshman year in college, as they can take a lighter load and work on the adjustment to being away from home and improving study skills.

– While I realize community colleges aren’t perfect, I have found that the student body tends to be a bit more serious than campuses with an active dorm-life. The teachers are easily accessible, (no 500-person lecture halls or TA’s) and they are super encouraging. Lastly, they are also an affordable and local option to beginning college.

6. We begin to ask for college recommendations early in the summer before their senior year. This gives plenty of time for the request to be submitted, avoiding the usual last minute rush!

7. We apply for and gather college applications during the spring semester of their junior year and begin their essays over the summer going into their senior year.  This really takes the load off their high school senior year, if most of them are written by summer’s end.

8. Visiting prospective college campuses during the school year has been a great boon to all of our children.  They can truly imagine themselves in the classrooms, interacting with the students and they get a real feel of the school spirit, academically and spiritually!

9. Incorporate a class or two during their junior and senior high school years that covers Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization.  These are the hot button topics that they will encounter even if they go to a small traditional Catholic college.  Some of the best discussions I had with my kids about their relationship to Christ and His Church happened over these important topics. For discussion prompts, we used several of these books in my blog post, Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style. 

10. Most importantly, PRAY.  Begin or continue to ask your child’s patron saints to intercede on their behalf and ask Blessed Mary to lead their hearts to her Son. Help and guide them during the high school years to develop their own personal habits of prayer. Following what the family does is easy. However, once removed from their home structure it gets tougher, especially if they have not had any practice on their own! Adoration, rosary, bible study, volunteering at the parish or local pro-life group are excellent opportunities to be of service and develop their friendship with Jesus in love and action.

teens pray homeschool high school

Keeping you all in my daily prayer… Paola

PS – If you have friends who could use some support in this area please share this post!

Please comment below with your top tips for college prep too!

Teaching Your Child to Read

JESSIE WILLCOX SMITH's A Rainy Day, Dream Blocks original illustrationThere are a variety of ways to begin teaching your children to read.

I have used the book Teach Your Child to Read in a 100 Easy Lessons successfully with most of our seven children. I really love that it is scripted.  In other words, it tells mom exactly what to say and what to ask the child to repeat.

However, this is not the only way to teach reading, some moms and/or children respond better to a different presentation.  Another fantastic scripted program, I wish I had when my children were little, is All About Reading . A multi-sensory program this would have been perfect for my kinesthetic learner as well as my auditory learner.  It is a pick up and go program with a gentle approach that achieves success quickly and easily.

Also highly recommended, is the Little Angel Reader Phonics Program, this lovely program has the added bonus of being a Catholic program with readers and workbooks which reinforce and teach basic phonics. In addition I have used the series, Explode the Code, as it too has beginner lessons to give focus on sounds and blends that need some extra help or a different presentation of the basic letters and sounds.

All of these programs introduce your child to the concept that symbols represent sounds, and that when the symbols are placed next to each other and blended, the new, blended sound forms a word. The next step would be to introduce the concept of writing these sound-symbols together or in other words, begin a spelling program. We highly recommend the new All About Spelling Program.

The entire process of reading and spelling varies in time and method, and can be individualized for each child in your family. My best recommendation is to watch for reading readiness in your little child. When you begin to see your child follow along with you while 3321615408_a14f8bec88_oyou are reading to them, and you see them begin to make out the sounds, either by themselves or in imitation of you, it is a good sign they are ready.


Move at your child’s pace.  Try to keep these sessions short, fun, pleasant and full of praise.  A sure sign of moving too fast is when they get easily agitated or downright resistant to these sessions.  That’s when it’s a good time to close the book and move back to reading aloud, cuddled up next to mommy.

All of our children have learned to read at a variety of ages, some as early as five years old, and some closer johnny_automatic_children_readingto nine years old.  But all of them, I am most happy to report, by having had the luxury of moving at their natural pace,  have a true love of reading.

After all, a true love of reading and a real sense of reading success is a gift of lifetime of learning!


Paola’s Book Bites: Medieval Times

Catholic homeschooling consulting coaching historyLight to the Nations, Part I: The Development of Christian Civilization

Publisher: Catholic Schools Textbook Project

Use this text for any study of the Medieval time period.  It is especially good to use as your framework text, and the teacher manual will also prove indispensable too!

From the coming of Jesus Christ, through the achievements of medieval Christendom, to the threshold of the Enlightenment projects of the 18th century, God’s work in history reveals itself. This book combines narrative accounts with the necessary facts, dates, short biographies, and concept definitions needed for a Christian cultural understanding. The central concern of the volume is the effect on human civilization wrought by the Christian Faith. Drawing on the work of Catholic historians of the 20th century—Christopher Dawson, Hilaire Belloc, and Frederick Wilhelmsen—the authors have crafted a Catholic and accurate account of our Western heritage to convey our story to youth.

††Textbook (Grades 7-9, HC, $$$)
††Teacher’s Manual (PB, $$)
††Workbook on CD (Grades 7-9, CD-ROM, $)


Medieval History-Based Writing LessonsCatholic Homeschooling History

By Lori Verstegan

Publisher: Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

I love to round out my history with writing lessons centered on the time period we are studying.  You will find this the perfect complement to any study of Medieval Times.  You can easily coordinate the topics with the historic novels you read or the chapters in your framework text.

These 27 weekly lessons move through major Medieval History themes as they incrementally teach most of the IEW models of structure and elements of style. Easy-to-follow instructions and checklists are included for two levels of students: elementary and junior high. In addition, a Teacher Tips section provides helpful hints, sample whiteboards, and review games to help teachers reinforce the concepts taught. Vocabulary cards (with great pictures to help kids remember definitions), quizzes, and games are also included. 144 pages plus 64 vocabulary cards. Includes all teacher and student materials.

(Student Book: Gr. 5-9, 177 pages, PB, $$) (SB & TM Set: $$$)


Catholic homeschooling consulting coaching historyHistory Portfolios

by Barbara Shurkin

Publisher:Homeschool Journey

Hands-on is optional for the study of History BUT oh so much fun for those kiddos that are real tactical and visual learners!  Each Homeschool Journey History Portfolio encourages study and plenty of creativity while providing a compact way of organizing and showcasing a student’s own written research projects and reports, colorful drawings, photographs, clippings, downloaded images… anything that can fit between the pages! Use it as a stand alone curriculum using living books, or alongside your current history program. Each book is designed for individual use and will become a unique record of the student’s journey through history… a keepsake and a “book to treasure!” The History Portfolio Classic editions are designed for your middle school to high school students while the Junior version for your younger set, which is especially nice for families who want to study the same time period together. The body of the Portfolio is divided into chapters of commonly studied historical time periods, cultures and civilizations. The Table of Contents provides a thorough reference index to work with, indicating topics covering: works of literature, important people, works of art and architecture, important places and events, plus advances in science and technology. The attractively formatted Portfolios contain an entirely unique system of “image boxes” and “text boxes” that support and showcase the student’s work, whether hand or type written reports, graphs, diagrams, hand drawn images, photographs, or images accessed from the Internet. Also includes black-line maps of the regions being studied. And a sturdy timeline comes bound in each History Portfolio ready to be removed and easily assembled (we suggest using our History Worth Remembering Timeline Figures). The assembled timeline measures approximately 11” x 47” and is printed on heavy card stock. In the Teacher’s Guide you will find specific recommendations to put into each and every image box and text box. Use the Guide as-is, coloring, cutting, and pasting the images into the Portfolio, or simply you use it as a springboard and source of ideas. The Full color maps are a great add-on!

The Medieval timeline is divided into sections, allowing a separate strand for each culture or empire. Dates begin at The Birth of Christ and continue to 1500 A.D. The JUNIOR version also include Teachers Guides.

Medieval History†Medieval History Portfolio (Ages 8+, Binder, $$$)††Medieval History Full Color Maps ($$)††Medieval History Teacher’s Guide ($$)††Medieval History Portfolio JUNIOR

Living History Novels

Catholic Homeschool History I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures

By Carlyn Beccia

When we recently visited the bookstore at a National historical site we were drawn towards this book… who wouldn’t be intrigued just by the title. It proved to be a really fascinating read and glimpse into how we view medicine and health since ancient days and ancient places all over the world. It wasn’t too long ago that people tried all sorts of things to help sick people feel better. They tried wild things like drinking a glass full of millipedes or putting some mustard on one’s head. Some of the cures worked, and some of them…well, let’s just say that millipedes, living or dead, are not meant to be ingested. Carlyn Beccia takes readers on a colorful and funny medical mystery tour to discover that while times may have changed, many of today’s most reliable cure-alls have their roots in some very peculiar practices. Great to add to your study of Medieval times (Grades 5+, 48 pages HC, $$)

The Making of a KnightThe Making of a Knight

By Patrick O’Brien

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Seven-year-old James wants to be a brave and noble knight like his father. He dreams of the day that he, too, will wear the golden spurs that symbolize knighthood. But before his dreams are realized, James must work for seven years as a page and for seven more as a squire, learning to ride, hunt, and fight. This is perfect for the younger crowd interested in the medieval period and especially what it takes to become a knight. (Ages 10+, 32 pages, PB, .epub, $)

The Castle CoronaThe Making of a Knight

By Sharon Creech, illustrated by David Diaz

Long ago and far away . . .

There was a castle. But not just any castle. This was a castle that glittered and sparkled and rose majestically above the banks of the winding Winono River: the Castle Corona. And in this castle lived a family but not just any family. This was the family of King Guido: rich and royal and… spoiled. And King Guido was so spoiled that neither jewels nor gold nor splendid finery could please him, for what he longed for most was… a nap and a gown that didn’t itch. Far below this grand, glittering castle lived two peasants. But not just any peasants. These peasants, though poor and pitiful, were resourceful and in possession of a stolen pouch. But not just any pouch and not stolen by them. A pouch whose very contents had the power to unlock a mystery from the past that will transform lives… Our children loved this, especially our Julia has read this one over and over again… delightful! (Grades 5+, 336 pages, PB, $)


By Avi

Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Newberry Winner)The Making of a Knight

“Asta’s son” is all he’s ever been called. The lack of name is appropriate, because he and his mother are but poor peasants in fourteenth-century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less—no home, family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a “wolf’s head.” That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name—Crispin—and his mother’s cross of lead. His journey through the English countryside is amazing and terrifying. Why are his enemies so determined to kill him? He discovers that by losing everything, he has gained the most precious gift of all. (Grade 7+, 320 pages, 7¾” x 5⅓”, PB, $)

 Catholic Homeschool HistoryCrispin at the Edge of the World

“The more I came to know of the world, the more I knew I knew it not.” Crispin.

In this riveting sequel to the Newbery Award–winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead—the second book in a this trilogy—Avi explores themes of war, religion, and family as he continues the adventures of Crispin and Bear. Crispin met Bear, who helped him learn the secret of his full identity. And in Bear—the enormous, red-bearded juggler, sometime spy, and everyday philosopher—Crispin also found a new father. Now Crispin and Bear have set off to live their lives as free men. But they don’t get far before their past catches up with them: Bear is being pursued by members of the secret brotherhood who believe he is an informer. When Bear is badly wounded, it is up to Crispin to make decisions about their future: where to go, whom to trust. Along the way, they become entangled with an extraordinary range of people, each of whom affects Crispin and Bear’s journey in unexpected ways. To find freedom and safety, they may have to travel to the edge of the world—even if it means confronting death itself. (Grade 7+, 256 pages, 7¾” x 5⅓”, PB, $)

Crispin: The End of TimeCatholic Homeschool History

“As long as I could keep myself out of bondage, I would be true to Bear’s teaching. And so it was that beyond all else, I was determined to keep my freedom.” —Crispin

After the death of their beloved mentor, Bear, Crispin, and Troth are more desperate than ever, wandering the desolate French countryside, where they don’t speak the language and know no one. The only hope they cling to is that somehow they can reach Iceland, where Bear had said there were no kings or lords, and where they can live in freedom. Crispin is determined to fulfill this dream, both for himself and to honor Bear’s memory. But the road to liberty is filled with danger, betrayal, and loss. Crispin must decide for himself what freedom really means—and how high a price he is willing to pay for it. (Grade 7+, 240 pages 7¾” x 5⅓”, PB, $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryFingal’s Quest

By Madeleine A. Polland

A wonderfully written historical fiction of Sixth Century France and Ireland! Learn about the life of St. Colomban, who brought the Faith back to Gaul after the collapse of the Roman Empire, as seen through the eyes of his young student, Fingal. (Gr. 7+, 191 pages, HC, $$)

Children of the Red KingCatholic Homeschool History

By Madeleine Polland

Publisher: Hillside Education

This was Mrs. Polland’s first novel for children, and it is excellent! In her usual beautiful storytelling style (City of the Golden House, Beorn the Proud, Chuiraquimba and the Black Robes), she tells the story of the last Irish chieftain to hold out against King John and the English conquest of Ireland. While his children are held captive by a Norman knight, Cormac of Connacht battles to keep the land free and retain his kingship against conspirators. Exciting historical Emmanuel Books Review 23

fiction set in early 13th century Ireland. (Gr. 8+, PB $$, .epub $)

If All the Swords in EnglandCatholic Homeschool History

By Barbara Willard

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Young Simon, recently and tragically orphaned, becomes a scribe in the following of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The uncertainty of the tumultuous years leading to the infamous cathedral slaying is heightened by Simon’s separation from his twin, Edmund, who is in the service of King Henry II. With astounding talent, Willard recounts the events leading to the Archbishop’s martyrdom. Gripping! (Ages 9+, 200 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistorySon of Charlemagne

By Barbara Willard

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Son of Charlemagne treats readers to a rare glimpse of the great historical ruler who united most of Europe in Christianity. Told through the eyes of Charlemagne’s son and heir Carl, with the rest of his sons and daughters, this fast-paced tale recounts the piety, faith, courage, and love of family embodied by the first Holy Roman Emperor. Readers are taken behind the scenes to witness the agony and turmoil Charlemagne faced when choosing one son over the other and sending two other sons to remote thrones. We also see his commitment to converting the barbaric tribes to Christianity and his determination for justice to always prevail. Charlemagne was a great ruler and an even better visionary, but more than that, he was a man extremely devoted to his wife and family. This unique perspective on one of history’s most famous men is a must read and is a great addition to any home library! (Ages 10+, 208 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Augustine Came to KentCatholic Homeschool History

By Barbara Willard

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

One of my all time favorites!! The era of English history right after the passing of the Roman empire has few books written about it. This historical novel does an excellent and inspiring job of filling that gap. The missionaries from Rome led by St. Augustine do not know whether they will be welcomed, tolerated or martyred. (Grade 4+, 179 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Hidden Treasure of Glaston

By Eleanore Jewett

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Amidst great mystery, Hugh is left in the care of Glastonbury Abbey by his father who must flee England too swiftly to be burdened by a crippled son. Ashamed of his physical weakness, yet possessed of a stout heart, Hugh finds that life at the abbey is surprisingly full in the year 1171, in the turbulent days of King Henry II. Hugh and his friends uncover a treasure, “It was here, right in this treasure vault…there may well be other things hidden – that Other Thing, most holy of all…Tis a good notion truly, to swear brotherhood. Now, by this sword of mystery and magic, King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, let us three swear that we will not speak of this thing nor cease to seek till we have found the Grail, the Holy Cup, if so be it still rests hidden in our Glaston.” There is also a deeper mystery to be uncovered, of the sort that could only occur in Glastonbury where Joseph of Arimithea was said to have lived his last years. A Newbery Honor winner. (Ages 10+, 345 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Lost BaronCatholic Homeschool History

By Allen French

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Martin, the son of Sir Anselm of the Hollow, risks his life in more ways than one in this fast-paced story of Cornwall in the year 1200. King Richard is dead and John is a greedy, dishonest king. The young Rosamund must bear the burden Emmanuel Books Review 24

of the disappearance of her father, the Baron Eric. The moody Sir Basil, distant relation and heir, has taken over the castle—and would not be pleased if Eric should ever return. When Sir Basil invites young Martin to come to the castle as a page and squire, the boy is swiftly drawn into Rosamund’s troubles… as well as a few of his own! A courageous ride through the perils of medieval England! (Ages 10+, 303 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Red Falcons of TremoineCatholic Homeschool History

By Hendry Peart, Illustrated by Maurice Brevannes

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Set in 12th century Medieval England in the days of Richard the Lionhearted and the Crusades this exciting story will immerse you in Medieval life. Told through the eyes of the orphan boy Leo who at 15 finally hears what he has been longing to know, his families lineage. Entrusted to and therefore raised by the kindly Abbot who has protected and raised the boy since he was a baby Leo learns the way of life in a monastery until his mother’s and father’s families fight to claim him as their heirs. In a feuding family history played out with Leo at the center Leo must rise from childhood to become a virtuous young man, and mend the wounds of the past. (Ages 12+, 239 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Twelve Bright TrumpetsCatholic Homeschool History

By Margaret Leighton

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

This book is a real treasure! I use this book as a sweeping overview of the entire period OR we read a chapter every week or two to coordinate with our progress through this time period. Leighton paints a vivid portrait of life in the Middle Ages – through the eyes of children. Here are twelve stories that demonstrate the centrality of the Catholic Church for the people of medieval Europe. You will meet young boys and girls who are educated in monasteries, who fled from Viking invasions, and who witnessed the Crusades. Young readers will be fascinated by the adventures of these children—and moved by their faith! We suggest using this as a read-aloud or a framework novel for studying the medieval time period. (Gr. 6+, 172 pages, PB, $$)

Where Valor LiesCatholic Homeschool History

By Adele and Cateau De Leeuw

Publisher: Lepanto Press

This is the exciting tale of Richard, a young boy of fourteen who ‘takes up the cross’ and joins the crusade to free Jerusalem, but also to escape his lonely and impoverished life as an apprentice in 13th century Paris. However, Richard is in for quite a surprise as he discovers that life as a Crusader is not all triumph and glory! Food is scarce, disease is rampant, and the work is unceasing. Readers will enjoy sharing in Richard’s experiences as he travels into Egypt, participates in countless battles and learns the true meaning of friendship and self-sacrifice. An inspiring story for all ages! (Ages 12+, 186 pages, HC, $$)

CathedralCatholic Homeschool History

By David Macaulay

Another classic from the famed  David Macaulay’s wonderful books- this recreates the building of a French Gothic cathedral. Extraordinary!! Honored by countless medals, this book teaches about architecture as well as the crafts of the Middle Ages. Detailed B&W Illustrations (Ages 10+, 79 pages, PB, $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryCastle

By David Macaulay

And here is another award winning book from David Macaulay, tracing the step-by-step planning and construction of both castle and town! Detailed B&W Illustrations (Ages 10+, 79 pages, PB, $) Emmanuel Books Review 25



The Red KeepCatholic Homeschool History

By Allen French

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

In the country of Burgundy, the Sauval brothers have begun to terrorize the surrounding lands in an attempt to bring the area under their control. They raid the Red Keep, in hope of gaining it for themselves, only to be thwarted by Sir Roger and Conan. Now they plot anew to steal the Keep from its rightful owner, Lady Ann. She, with Conan and her loyal followers, set out to bring justice upon the evil brothers. An action filled tale of France, less than a century after William the Conqueror captured Britain, by the author of The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow. (Gr. 5+, 370 pages, PB, $$)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Story of King Arthur and His Knights

By Howard Pyle

Publisher: Dover Publications

The stories in this book describe the thrilling adventures of King Arthur and his knights in that glorious age of chivalry and honor. The author relates the story of Arthur’s battle with the Sable Knight and his securing of the sword Excalibur. Pyle tells of Arthur’s confrontations with the Duke of North Umber and Sir Pellias, describes King Arthur’s wooing and wedding the Lady Guinevere, and tells of the establishment of the Round Table. Includes tales of Arthur’s knights, including Merlin the Wise, Sir Pellias (or the Gentle Knight) and of course, Sir Gawain. An engaging tale of a classic hero. Some B&W illustrations and some side cliff notes. (316 pages, 6” x 10”, PB, $$)

The Blue Gonfalon at the First CrusadeCatholic Homeschool History

By Margaret Ann Hubbard

Publisher: Lepanto Press

Ever since he could remember, Bennet wanted to become a knight. No matter that he was the son of an armorer on the estate of Lord Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine; no matter that a peasant’s son could never see the realization of such a fantastic dream. In his few spare moments, Bennet practices a rigorous training routine, hoping that somehow he might be selected as a castle squire – the first step toward his goal. Then one day Peter the Hermit rode through Lorraine, describing atrocities commited by infidels in Jerusalem and calling for an army of Christians to march to Palenstine. Bennet’s chance had come at last, for when Godfrey took the crusader’s cross, he asked Bennet to accompany him to the Holy Land as his squire. With the Blue Gonfalon flying at the head of the French troops, Bennet began the long journey to Jerusalem – toward adventure, danger, and the possibility that a courageous deed would make his dream of knighthood come true. A panorama of Europe in 1099 unfolds in Margaret Ann Hubbard’s thrilling story of the First Crusade. (Ages 10+, 187 pages, HC, $$)

The Blood Red Crescent and the Battle of LepantoCatholic Homeschool History

By Henry Garnett

Publisher: Lepanto Press

It was fall 1570, and rumors of an invasion by the Turks were spreading throughout Venice. Down by the docks, Guido Callata listened to the sailors as they discussed past battles and speculated about more fighting in the future. From the altar of St. Mark’s, a message from His Holiness Pope Pius V had been read, calling for crusade to repel Turkish advances. A fleet of Venetian and Spanish vessels would be assembled, and Guido’s father, like other wealthy Venetians, had agreed to build and equip a galley for the Christian fleet. Secretly, Guido hoped to sail to battle with his father’s crew; instead, he was whisked off to the safety of a monastery, far from the excitement of the Venetian waterfront. How Guido finally manages to join the fleet and help to defeat the Turks in the memorable Battle of Lepanto is a colorful tale of danger, suspense, and adventure in sixteenth-century Italy. (Ages 10+, 188 pages, HC $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryAdam of the Road

By Elizabeth Janet Gray

Eleven-year-old Adam loved to travel through the open roads of thirteenth-century England with his father, a wandering minstrel, and his red spaniel, Nick. But when his father suddenly disappears and Nick is stolen, Adam finds himself alone searching these same roads filled with rich merchants, pilgrims with cockleshells upon their hats, Emmanuel Books Review 26

farming folk driving pigs to the fair, minstrels and priests, saint and thieves—and somewhere in the crowd are his father and dog. A story that clearly demonstrates the power of determination. Some B&W illustrations. (318 pages, 5” x 8”, PB, $)

Crossbows and CrucifixesCatholic Homeschool History

By Henry Garnett

Publisher: Sophia Press

England, 1585: Queen Elizabeth’s spies lurk everywhere, searching out Catholics who refuse to attend the non-Catholic services of the State religion. Officers of the law hunt down and kill Catholic priests, and imprison those who shelter them. In these perilous times, fifteen-year-old Nicholas Thorpe discovers that his widowed mother has become Catholic. He soon joins the Church and The Companions, a pious underground army of resistance that shelters priests and leads them in strict secrecy and great danger from one estate to another, so the Catholic faithful can continue to receive the Sacraments the law now forbids. Author Henry Garnett brings to life the drama of a nation where unjust laws forced good men and women to choose between their country and their Faith, and young people heard early and well the call to heroism that Christians must be ever ready to heed. Former title: A Trumpet Sounds (Gr. 7+, 208 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Merry Adventures of Robin HoodCatholic Homeschool History

By Howard Pyle

Publisher: Dover Publications

Pyle takes the reader along with Robin Hood and his band on their merry adventures. They tell of Little John, Will Scarlet, and Allan a-Dale, and how they came to join the band; how Robin Hood escaped the arrows of the grim Sheriff of Nottingham, and later revenged himself; and what happened at the court of the gentle Queen Eleanor. The tales go on to tell all the other exploits of Robin Hood and his band. Brings the timeless stories to life! Some B&W illustrations and some side cliff notes. (High School, 296 pages, 6” x 10”, PB $$, .epub free)

El Cid, God’s Own ChampionCatholic Homeschool History

By James Fitzhenry

This is an inspiring biography about an extraordinary Catholic knight chosen by God to save his nation from Islamic aggression. Known by the honorary title of El Cid, Rodrigo Diaz is an epic hero who is relevant to our time. Exiled by his king, insulted and maligned by those who should have supported him, he selflessly fought against seemingly insurmountable odds to save Christian Spain. Commanding the respect even of his enemies, upon his death a Muslim historian acclaimed him, “a miracle among the great miracles of the Almighty.” The Cid is an example of what can be achieved through devotion to duty, prayer, and trust in God. The history of this great Catholic knight will inspire all to do their duty to God without fear or concern for the cost and to imitate the virtues of this Catholic champion. (High School, 186 pages, PB, $$)

IvanhoeCatholic Homeschool History

By Sir Walter Scott

Publisher: Penguin Classic

Crowded with incident and full of memorable characters, among them: wicked Prince John, the outlaw Robin Hood, and the beautiful Jewess Rebecca, Ivanhoe is Scott’s most high-spirited novel. Ivanhoe, banished by his father Cedric for falling in love with Cedric’s ward Rowena, wins the trust of Richard Coeur-de-Lion in the Crusades. Returning to England to claim his inheritance, Ivanhoe is drawn into the struggle between Richard and his brother John. In the two central scenes of the book lay the opposing themes of historical reality and chivalric romance, social realism and high adventure. (High School, 496 pages, 5” x 8”, PB $$, .epub free)

The Apple and the ArrowCatholic Homeschool History

By Mary and Conrad Buff

1952 Newberry Honor Book

The year is 1291, and Walter is the twelve-year-old son of William Tell, the greatest bowman in the land of Uri. Walter lives happily in the remote heights of the Alpine Mountains, caring for his family’s goat herd and practicing his marksmanship in the hopes of making his father proud. But as the end of the year approaches, Walter’s peaceful life is shaken as his country enters a revolution, and Walter must carry a secret that could threaten the life of the father he loves so dearly. More than seven hundred years have passed since the day Walter stood in the marketplace balancing an apple on his head while the Austrian tyrant Gessler commanded Walter’s father, William Tell, to take aim at the apple with his great crossbow. The dramatic tale of William’s arrest and escape and the daring revolt of the Swiss against the Austrians has become a legend around the world. (Gr. 4-6, 80 pages, 7⅝” x 10½”, PB, $)

The Door in the WallCatholic Homeschool History

By Marguerite de Angeli

Ever since he can remember, Robin, has been told what is expected of him as the son of a nobleman. He must learn the ways of knighthood. But Robin’s destiny is changed suddenly when he falls ill and loses the use of his legs. A monk named Brother Luke rescues Robin and takes him to the hospice of St. Mark’s, where he is taught patience and strength. Winner of the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. (121 pages, PB, $)

The Black ArrowCatholic Homeschool History

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Set in England during the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, this swashbuckling historical novel by the author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped tells the story of young Dick Shelton. Betrayed by his treacherous and brutal guardian Sir Daniel Brackley, Dick seeks the help of John Amend-All, leader of the mysterious fellowship of the Black Arrow—and Brackley’s sworn enemy. Brimming with adventure, suspense, and romance, this thrilling tale presents a classic portrait of England during one of its most tumultuous eras, as Dick is pulled by his loyalties to the houses of both York and Lancaster. He must make a crucial choice, for the fate of England hangs in the balance. (234 pages, PB $, .epub free)

Red Hugh, Prince of DonegalCatholic Homeschool History

By Robert T. Reilly

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Growing up heir to the throne of Donegal, Red Hugh had known a comfortable life but with his father’s debilitating disease setting everyone’s eyes on Hugh, life becomes more dangerous by the day. Queen Elizabeth is on the prowl to conquer all of Ireland and the young prince and his mother, Queen Ineen Duive, stand in Britain’s way. Elizabeth hatches a deceitful plot to land Red Hugh in Dublin Castle, shackled under solitary confinement. The royal Irishman is cunning and never loses hope that he will successfully escape. When the time finally comes to escape, Hugh must brave a January blizzard, rough passages along the Wicklow Mountains and countless British soldiers in hot pursuit! Will he reach Donegal before Queen Elizabeth’s troops pillage and will the beautiful Kathleen MacSweeney be waiting for him? In the end, despite everything the English have put his family through, Red Hugh’s mother teaches her son an important lesson in forgiveness. A wonderful story on the power of faith, perseverance and love! (Ages 10+, 202 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Big John’s SecretCatholic Homeschool History0

By Eleanore M. Jewett

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

There is a mystery woven into Big John’s young life that he must solve. Raised during the strife-filled days of the reign of King John of England, in a rude peasant village by “Old Marm,” John understands that injustice has been done to his family and that Old Marm is preparing him one day to reclaim his name, family honor and avenge his unknown father! But Old Marm dies, and he is left without a clue to his name. In the next years John’s unusual size and strength (and the knowledge he has gained of letters and of the art of healing) earn him a place as page to an earl organizing the 5th Crusade. In the Holy Land, John searches for his father. Amidst battle, capture and setbacks, John encounters Francis of Assisi, who had come to the Holy Land just at this time to preach the Gospel to the Saracens. What a great story to incorporate medieval history with Church History! Our children couldn’t put this one down!!! (Ages 10+, 176 pages, PB $$, .epub $)Emmanuel Books Review 28

I, Juan de ParejaCatholic Homeschool History

By Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

We love this book. It combines history with art and faith. This 1965 Newberry medal story is told through the eyes of Velasquez’s slave and assistant. The slave becomes an artist in his own right as he works with his master Velasquez in spite of the prohibition against a slave learning to paint in 17th century Spain. We are also introduced to another famous artist Murillo and his deeply Catholic faith and how he shares this with Juan and uses his faith in his art. It is a wonderfully well told tale that will inspire the entire family to get to know the artists and their works as well as giving us a glimpse into the lives of those in Europe during the time period our country was being colonized. Simply wonderful. (Gr. 4+, 180 pages, PB, $)

The King’s ThaneCatholic Homeschool History

By Charles Brady

Publisher: Hillside Education

Set in Northumbria at the time of St. Paulinus (mid-7th century) and the conversion of King Edwin, this story retells the tale of Beowulf. Bjarki, a Viking descendant of the legendary “Beowulf” comes to King Edwin’s court from Geatland to rid the King’s halls of the Grendel. He takes Beorn, a lame boy, to be his thane, and Beorn’s life is forever changed. Beorn eventually accepts Christianity, as does his King, and becomes a monk. As a monk, in his old age, he writes the story of the original “Beowulf” as he promised Bjarki he would. This story ably blends the quest of Bjarki with the quest to convert England to Christianity undertaken so courageously by the missionaries. (Gr. 6+, 222 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Trumpeter of Krakow

Eric P. Kelly

Newberry Award Winner! The Great Tarnov Crystal has been sought after for many years and now a murderous Tartar chief has plans to steal it. It’s up to young Joseph Charnetski, who is bound to a sacred oath to protect the jewel at all costs, to keep it out of the hands of evil. Learn a little about Polish history as his efforts take him and his family to medieval Krakow where they find themselves caught up in the toils of alchemists, hypnotists, and a dark messenger of evil. (Gr. 8, 208 pages, PB, $)

The Ballad of the White HorseCatholic Homeschool History

By G.K. Chesterton

Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is one of the last great epic poems in the English language. On the one hand, it describes King Alfred’s battle against the Danes in 878 AD. On the other hand it is a timeless allegory about the ongoing battle between Christianity and the forces of nihilistic heathenism. Filled with colorful characters, thrilling battles and mystical visions, it is as lively as it is profound. (Gr. 9+, 173 pages, HC $$, .epub free)

The Lives of the Kings and Queens of EnglandCatholic Homeschool History

Edited by Antonia Fraser

My go-to reference book for keeping English history and reigns of kings in context. The family trees provided make this book not only fascinating but a valuable tool. A sweeping journey that helps to place English historical figures and events in the time period they lived. Beautiful illustrations and brilliant narration make history jump off the page, when kingdoms were won and lost, wars fought, and empires crumbled. “A beautifully illustrated collection of biographies… blending bare facts and narrative with a judicious amount of atmosphere.” (High School, 374 pages, Quality Softcover, $$$)

Robert Southwell – Unit Study Catholic homeschool history

By Philip Healy and Lesley Payne

This “…is a unique high school level teaching resource, integrating the life and martyrdom of St. Robert Southwell with study of the English Reformation, poetry, the Catholic Faith, and more.” Recommended by The Wanderer and Laura Berquist! (High School, 43 pages, PDF, $)

The Daughter of TimeCatholic Homeschool History

By Josephine Tey

Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant lies in a hospital bed with a broken leg. To alleviate his boredom, a friend brings him a pile of pictures: photographs, prints, engravings, and clippings. Among the more engrossing images is the portrait of King Richard III. Studying the benign face, he asks himself how such a sensitive-appearing soul could have been the infamous murderer of his own nephews. With the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, Grant reconsiders 500 year-old evidence pertaining to one of the most intriguing murder mysteries of all time. Josephine Tey’s answer to who really killed the two princes in the Tower of London has provoked controversy ever since its publication in 1951. An easy and fast-paced high school level reader which just may inspire your child to research this “mystery of all time” themselves. (High School, 206 pages, PB, $$)

The Life of St. Thomas MoreCatholic Homeschool History

By William Roper

A classic biography by Sir Thomas More’s son-in-law that includes intimate glimpses of life in the More household, and an account of the heroic figure of the English court in King Henry VIII’s day—a lawyer, a servant of the king, and a devout Catholic always. It is a difficult read in that the language is of the time period it written. However well worth the effort in that it reveals his true character in light of those who loved and lived with him. An excellent opportunity to get to know this beloved saint who inspires us to this day—and clarifies for us—the hierarchy of God’s law over civil law. (High School, 125 pages, HC,$)

A Man For All Seasons (DVD)Catholic Homeschool History

This is the acclaimed Academy Award winning drama about the conflict between St. Thomas More and Henry VIII which is filled with intrigue and courage. Robert Shaw stars as Henry, who wants to divorce his wife in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Only Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) has the courage and conviction to oppose the King’s will. Though all alone in his brave decison to stand firm with the Church, More’s valiant refusal to abandon his principles leads to his martyrdom. A stunning performance by Scofield who won Best Actor for his role as More. A good exercise in comparing and contrasting sources on the same figure and events surrounding his life and choices. (Family, DVD, $$)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Gunpowder Plot

By Hugh Ross Williamson

Publisher: Neumann Press

Still the subject of controversy and anti-Catholic feelings, this book explains what happened almost 400 years ago in England when barrels of gunpowder were found under the House of Lords. This is a fascinating story of intrigue and suspense – involving heroic actions, cowardly politics and unwavering faith. (High School+, 301 pages, Some B&W Illustrations, HC, $$)

Isabel of Spain Catholic Homeschool History

By Warren H. Carroll

Almost every historian who has written of Isabel has recognized her extraordinary goodness and devotion to her Catholic faith, along with her greatness as a leader. She was not only as outstanding Queen, but a devoted wife and mother as well. The many evidences of her personal holiness led to the introduction and substantial progress of her cause for canonization. Isabel’s patronage of Christopher Columbus made possible his discovery of America. This is the first full scholarly biography of Queen Isabel in English in more than sixty years-extensively annotated and strictly accurate. Highly readable! (HS+, 385 pages, PB, $$)

The Characters of the InquisitionCatholic Homeschool History

By William Thomas Walsh

Publisher: TAN Books

A great book that dissects the Inquisition in a way that eliminates the preconceived judgments against the Catholic Church. This profiles six of the prominent inquisitors. Through these profiles, Walsh explains for the modern readers: the Inquisition itself, its operations, and the historical lines of its progress. This book lays to rest the myths which are accepted by modern Catholics today. Some of the main myths are just how unjust and sinister the Inquisition was, and the stories surrounding the “sinister” Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada. (Ages 14+, 304 pages, PB, $$)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Song of Roland

Translated by Robert Harrison

One of the crowning achievements of medieval artistic genius, The Song of Roland tells the story of the battle of Roncesvals in 778. At the center of this heroic epic is Roland, the supreme embodiment of the chivalric ideal who leads his men into combat and fights valiantly to the death. But Roland is just one of the superbly defined figures in the panoramic drama. The poem’s vivid portrayals of Ganelon’s treason, Roland’s last stand, Charlemagne’s campaign of vengeance, and the final act of retribution are justly famous. As Robert Harrison, the translator of this acclaimed edition, explains, “The carefully balanced structure of The Song of Roland is designed like a folding mirror to reflect the battle between Good and Evil at all levels of meaning.” (High School, 183 pages, PB $, .epub free)




Rarely do splendid characters reach across space and time, inviting us into the unexpected familiar of the past.

Living history books are truly great treasures and Caroline Dale Snedeker writes just such works. Mrs. Snedeker shapes and develops her characters with such vivacity that they come to life not only within the context of her stories but continue to exist long after the last page has been read. With her delightful weaving of history and fiction, she guides us through the winding streets of ancient Athens, the war-torn lands of Gaul, and the lovely solitude of old Nantucket.

Snedeker’s true love is the ancient world. Six of her books from American Homeschool Publishing are in that genre:, including Lysis Goes to the Play, Theras and his Town, A Triumph for Flavius, and The White Isle. Common threads of human emotion fill the pages of her works, connecting us in familial love, fear, pride, honor, compassion, and friendship to her vivid characters. Each story highlights the beauty found in the honor and responsibility to one’s family.

Theras and His Town (Ancient Greece)

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

In the pages of Theras and his Town, the young Theras is orphaned when his father dies fighting for Athens. More misfortune befalls Theras when a Spartan adopts him and tears the young boy away from his family and his beloved city. He plots his escape in the harsh landscape of Sparta, where all education is bent on warfare. Will he make it back safely to Athens or will more danger find this courageous young man? (Gr. 6+, 237 pages, PB, $$)

The Spartan (Ancient Greece)

Publisher: American Home School

This story is the tale of a young man who leaves his beloved Athens for the harsh brutality of Spartan military life. He adapts to the austere Spartan culture and quickly rises to fame. Because he survived a battle, he is disgraced by Spartan code and must flee the city with his mother’s curse upon him. This powerful story of Aristodemos the Coward recounts one man’s journey to clear his tainted name and legacy. It is during this pilgrimage that Aristodemos fully realizes his destiny to save Greece from the grasp of the Persians. Follow the courageous soldier from Sparta to Sicily as he searches to clear his tainted name and free himself from the bonds of his mother’s curse. Caroline Dale Snedeker weaves a fascinating tale around the historic battles of Thermopylæ and Platæa and the men whose lives were defined by these contests. A great addition to your studies of Ancient Greece! (Ages 13+, 374 pages, PB, $$)

Lysis Goes to the Play (Ancient Greece)

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

Lysis Goes to the Play involves a young boy who longs to attend an extremely popular event in ancient Greece–the theater! With his mother and father away, all hopes of going to the play are dashed until Lysis and his sister hatch a plan. Mrs. Snedeker artfully depicts ancient Grecian life, symbolizing the differing roles of men and women as well as free men and slaves, through Lysis and his relationships with family and friends. (Grade 3+, 62 pages, PB, $)

The White Isle (Ancient Rome

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

Lavinia and her family leave the safety of ancient Rome, exiled to the wilds of Britannia in The White Isle. As they make their way across Europe, they encounter many Roman outposts, as well as curious strangers before reaching the frontier country of Britain. What an exciting and dangerous time to be living in ancient England! The building of Hadrian’s Wall begins at the time of Lavinia’s arrival as well as the dawn of Breton Christianity. Will Lavinia cling to the traditions of Rome or will she realize her destiny in this distant and barbaric country? (Gr. 7+, 271 pages, PB, $$)

A Triumph for Flavius (Ancient Rome)

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

Snedeker delicately treats the subject of slavery in A Triumph for Flavius. Flavius’ father returns from war and presents him a captured Greek nobleman as a slave. Even young Flavius recognizes this man’s dignity and his right to live freely. Discover how the love of one boy can change the course of another’s life. (Ages 9-11, 87 pages, PB, $$)


The Forgotten Daughter (Ancient Rome)

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

Chloé is abandoned by her Roman father and made a slave on one of his villas, forced to live in a tiny, dark slave hut. Chloé’s only comfort is her late mother’s friend and fellow slave, Melissa, who tells the young girl about her Grecian mother. For years, the young girl existed only through Melissa’s stories and her own dreams. Chloé’s life is tossed upside down the day she rescued the young and handsome nobleman, Aulus, and life really begins! The unlikely friendship between the noble Roman soldier and the young slave quickly blossoms into love. Many obstacles lie ahead for the new couple, one of them being Chloé’s reluctance to accept and welcome the father she has bitterly hated. This amazing narrative on the life of a Roman slave seamlessly ties the studies of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome together and is a wonderful way to bridge these two civilizations! (Ages 12+, 206 pages, PB, $$)

Downright Dencey (19th C. America)

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

I could not put Downright Dencey down and when I was forced to do so, I could not wait to begin reading again! This charming story is set against the backdrop of Nantucket Island life where tranquility is disturbed by the War of 1812 and by husbands and fathers leaving families for long absences to make a life at sea. Into this world, we meet Dionis “Dencey” Coffyn who struggles against her natural tendencies and the Quaker discipline she has been taught. She risks her family, reputation, and the promise of a bright future when she vows to teach Sam Jetsam, a troublemaker and outcast, how to read. Will she lose everything or will the determination of one young girl change an entire town? This is a beautiful story of love, friendship, family, responsibility, and religion that readers of all ages can enjoy! (Ages 12+, 268 pages, PB $, .epub $$)

Here we share a biographical note fromThe Horn Book Magazine written by her sister, Nina Parke Stilwell:

“She was happiest while writing, for her characters were companions whom she missed when she finished her books. Before actually writing a story, she would steep herself in the background of her characters; then, as she wrote, they acted of themselves. The author could not force them to act contrary to their way of life. She studied Greek art, literature, religion, and philosophy for six years in preparation for her first book, The Spartan[1912], which was laid in ancient Greece. She was a student all her life, even during the latter part when she was bedridden; at 82 she published A Triumph for Flavius [1955].”


Paola’s Book Bites: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors

By Marian Broida

No study of Ancient Egypt can be complete without some exploration into the other cultures that existed at the same time and what better way than to add hands-on fun along with informative text. This unique activity book for children shows what life was like among the Nubians, Mesopotamians, Hittites, and their neighbors the Egyptians from around 3100 B.C., when Upper and Lower Egypt became one kingdom, to the death of Queen Cleopatra under the Romans, in 30 B.C. Projects such as building a Nubian irrigation machine, creating a Mesopotamian cylinder seal out of clay, and writing in Hittite cuneiform help young readers to connect with these ancient cultures and see how profoundly they have influenced our own. (PB 208 pp. 11” x 8 1/2”, 25 B/W Photos, ages 9+)

Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

By Ralph Masiello 

I love when we can incorporate art lessons into our study of history.  In this engaging book Ralph Masiello explores the mysteries of Ancient Egypt, from the great pyramid of Khafra to Queen Nefertiti. Step-by-step diagrams show kids how to draw pyramids, sphinxes, pharaohs, and more. Bonus steps encourage young artists to customize their drawings with historically accurate symbols and other details. An introduction and annotations throughout the book provide a glimpse into the fascinating world of this ancient civilization. (PB, Gr. 3-7)

Secrets of the Pyramids: A Maze Adventure

By Graham White

This challenging maze book is not just for fun, but is interspersed with fun facts about historical topics and culminates with a special code-cracking puzzle. All mazes are finger-traceable for easy reuse, and solutions are shown in the back of the book. In Secrets of the Pyramids, a friend’s father is trapped inside the Great Pyramid. To reach him, readers have to make their way through secret tunnels and chambers, deciphering hieroglyphics, uncovering buried treasures, and learning a lot about pyramid construction and life in the age of pharaohs. (PB 32 pages, size 9” x 11”, Gr. 3-8)

Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Build Yourself

By Carmella Van Vleet

From reed boats, papyrus, and amulets to pyramids, pharaohs, and mummies, this interactive activity book explores the fascinating lives of ancient Egyptians with more than two dozen hands-on projects.

The informative text covers ancient Egyptian food and housing, games and toys, farming, medicine, clothing and jewelry, as well as gods, pharaohs, hieroglyphs, pyramids, temples, and mummies. It gives readers today a chance to experience how the ancient Egyptians lived, cooked, worked, worshipped, entertained themselves, and interacted with their neighbors through building projects that use common household items.

These engaging projects using easily obtainable materials and requiring little adult supervision build on what is taught in each section and include building a shaduf, making a 1:1,000 scale model of the Great Pyramid, cooking flatbread, recreating papyrus, mixing perfume, designing a cartouche using hieroglyphs, and making sandals in the style worn by King Tut. Detailed step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and templates for creating each project are combined with historical facts and anecdotes, biographies, and trivia for the real-life models of each project. Together they give kids a first-hand look at daily life in ancient Egypt. (PB, 128 pp. 60 Color Illustrations, 100 Line Drawings, 30 Diagrams, 8” x 10”, Gr. 5-8)

God King

By Joanne Williamson

A never before published tale by the author of Hittite Warrior. It tells the story of Egypt during the Kushite dynasty. Young Taharka has assumed the throne after his father’s death, and is quickly pushed into exile by his own people, causing him to fall into the hands of Amos, an emissary of King Hezekiah seeking help for Judea from the Egyptians against the Assyrians. Now Taharka finds himself in the middle of a battle and having to choose between two kings – Sennacherib, the Assyrian, promising alliance – and Hezekiah, the Jew who trusts in Yahweh – and with whom he will live and die. (211 pages quality softcover – Ages 10+)

The Golden Goblet

By Eloise Jarvis McGraw

A young boy is orphaned and left in the care of his older brother. His life’s ambition has been to learn the trade of a goldsmith in whose shop he serves, but his brother threatens to apprentice him to the stonecutters. (PB, 248 pages, Grade 4-8)



Mara, Daughter of the Nile

By Eloise Jarvis McGraw

A slave girl finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies— each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt. (PB, 279 pages, Ages 11+)




Hittite Warrior

By Joanne Williamson

Judea has always been the crossroads and battlefield of contending nations. When Uriah Tarhund’s Hittite home is destroyed by invading Greeks, his dying father tells him to go south and seek a Canaanite named Sisera. Uriah is plunged into the tumult of an uneasy Judea. When he saves a young boy from being sacrificed to Moloch, he is given succor for a time by the Hebrews. Later he finds Sisera and joins him in war against these same people. When the Canaanites are defeated, the young Hittite has the opportunity to come to a peace with himself, the Hebrew people and their God. Set in 1200 B.C. (PB, 238 pages, Ages 10+)

Paola’s Book Bites: Encounter the Saints Series


St John Paul II: Be Not Afraid
By Sr. Susan Helen Wallace, FSP

John Paul II, who served as Pope during the last 25 years of the 20th century and who led the Church with hope into the third Christian millennium, was beatified six short years after his death on May 1, 2011. Born in 1920 to a devout Catholic family, ordained a priest in 1946, ordained a bishop in 1958, and elected Pope on October 16, 1978; the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. From that moment he took the Church and the world by storm. He traveled the world to proclaim Jesus Christ to all people, making a tremendous impact on hearts and minds and drawing large crowds everywhere he went. John Paul II never let oppression and tyranny spoil his dreams or dampen his faith. It is a message every child needs to hear as they try to be a true follower of Jesus. (Grade 4+, 111 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

St. Gianna Beretta Molla: The Gift of Life
By Susan Helen Wallace, FSP

This title in the series for younger readers tells the inspiring story of Saint Gianna from her awaited birth to her touching death. This book reveals the friendly and loving Gianna while we see her coping with the death of her siblings and later her parents, moving to different places throughout her childhood years, struggling with schoolwork, falling in love with her future husband, fulfilling her duties as a doctor and raising children. Gianna was impressed with the idea that we can prepare ourselves for heaven by the way we live on earth. Gianna studied medicine and became a doctor in 1949 specializing in pediatrics. Practicing medicine was not just her job, but the way she obeyed Jesus’ command to love one another and nurture both body and soul. It was not until she met Pietro, the brother of one of her dying patients, that Gianna realized that God was calling her to marry and be a good Christian wife, mother and doctor. (Grade 4+, 112 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

St. John Vianney: A Priest for All People
By Elizabeth Marie DeDomenico, FSP

Discover the life story of St. John Vianney—beloved patron saint of parish priests. From his youth during the tumultuous French Revolution, to his difficult years of study and amazing work to rebuild the parish of Ars, John Vianney is a model of love for God that spilled over into tireless care for others. Historical and cultural details make the story of this remarkable saint come alive for young readers. Also includes a glossary, features black and white illustrations by Ben Hake and a concluding prayer. (Grade 4+, 128 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

St. Damien of Molokai: Hero of Hawaii
By Virginia H. Richards

Canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11th of 2009, Joseph De Veuster was an ordinary boy growing up in Belgium in the mid 1800’s, planning to take over the family farm as he grew older, until he was called to a new vocation-the life of a priest. Joseph became Father Damien and was sent as a missionary to Hawaii and, eventually, to volunteer to go to Molokai to become the priest for those suffering from leprosy. He ministered to those who were quarantined on this remote and desolate island. He brought dignity and more important, Jesus in the Eucharist to his new family, the lepers of Molokai. This truly is an amazing and inspiring life of service in the name of God. (Grade 4+, 102 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

St Bakhita of Sudan: Forever Free
By Susan Helen Wallace, FSP

Kidnapped into slavery at the age of seven and brought to Italy as a teenager, the indomitable Bakhita eventually became a Catholic nun and spent over fifty years joyously serving her Lord as a Canossian Sister. In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized her. This African saint’s engrossing life story, heroic choices, and forgiving heart make her a wonderful role model! (Grade 4+, 102 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

St. Edith Stein: Blessed by the Cross
By Patricia Jablonski, FSP

Learn about a saint of our times…a brilliant Jewish philosopher born in Germany before WWI. After reading the biography of St. Teresa of Avila, she converted in 1922 and became a Carmelite nun! She was also martyred in Auschwitz during WWII and was canonized by John Paul II in 1998. (Grade 4+, 115 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)



St. Maximilian Kolbe: Mary’s Knight
By Patricia Jablonski, FSP

Learn about another great saint of our times… born in Poland in 1894 to poor, but devout Catholic parents. At a young age, he asked Mary what would become of him…and when she appeared to him, she asked would he accept the crown of purity or of martyrdom. He accepted both! After becoming a Franciscan priest, he began Militia Immaculatae as well as a publication Knight of the Immaculate. In Nazi occupied Poland, he was sent to Auschwitz, where he asked to take the place of another prisoner (who was a father and husband) selected for starvation in reprisal for the escape of three prisoners! He was canonized by John Paul II in 1982. (Grade 4+, 115 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

St. Pio of Pietrelcina: Rich in Love
By Eileen Bertanzetti

Known to us first as Padre Pio, he was born of poor farmers in southern Italy in 1887. He had poor health, but through grace became a priest in 1910. Many were attracted to his confessional and saintly counsel, including an elderly, saintly Italian neighbor of ours. He became the first priest to bear the wounds of Christ stigmata in 1918. His life was one of austerity and suffering till he died in 1968. (Grade 4+, 112 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)


Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: Missionary of Charity
By Mary Glavich, SND

The name Mother Teresa of Calcutta is known to all of us… get to know her life story! She followed her first calling to become a nun and her second calling to serve “the poorest of the poor”. Since 1950, when she began the Missionaries of Charity, her work knew no boundaries… the poor are “… Christ in distressing disguise.” She died in 1997 and was beatified in 2003. (Grade 4+, 132 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: Journey to the Summit
By Ana Maria Vazquez and Jennings Dean
Pier Giorgio Frassati, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1990, lived only twenty-four years. But in that short time, he lived his life to the fullest. His student escapades, his athletic achievements, and his dedication to helping the poor all combined to make this amazing young man an “avalanche of life.” (Grade 4+, 142 pages, 4 ½” x 7”, PB, $)

Paola’s Book Bites: Heroes and Saints

Book of Heroes
By Amy Welborn
Publisher: Loyola University Press

What a breath of fresh air to read a book written for children about real HEROES.

Amy Welborn has an incredible gift of relating deep truths to children in an easy manner. Her description of “What a hero is” alone is worth getting this treasure of a book. By using the spiritual and moral virtues as a guide towards introducing REAL Heroes (Saints and Blesseds) she incorporates opportunities for the child to really think about their own relationship with God.

Meet well known, lesser known, modern, and ancient saints in stories that describe the saints lives and how they loved God above all, how God was the center of their lives and in ways that our children can find true heroes to imitate!!! This is a real find and one you will go to over and over again. This book would also work well with the PACE program in bringing home virtue to a child’s life. Great to read aloud. (Ages 8+, 175 pages, HC, $$)

Book of Saints
By Amy Welborn
Publisher: Loyola University Press

Perhaps you have read her Prove-it series, which is amazing see my review here! Well, she has done it again—this time for a younger set.

This gifted author has written a great compilation of the saints accessible for our children and it is truly inspiring. Who are the saints, why are they important, and what can today’s children learn from them? In Book of Saints, author Amy Welborn answers these questions with exciting and inspiring stories, real-life applications, and important information about these heroes of the Church.

This delightful collection of saints’ lives, written in a storybook style for children eight to twelve, explains how saints become saints, why we honor them, and how they help us even today. Divided thematically, the book features more than sixty saints from all over the world and from all across time, including our newest saints, such as Katharine Drexel; popular saints, such as St. Anthony of Padua; and Blesseds, such as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Each story tells about a saint and encourages readers to consider how they might apply what they learn from the story to their everyday lives. (Ages 8+, 304 pages, HC, $$)

Paola’s Book Bites: Catholic Bibles

Beginner Bibles

Great Adventure Kids Bible Series
By Emily Cavins and Sarah Christmyer
Publisher: Ascension Press

This dynamic learning system is designed to teach children the story of the Bible in an interactive manner by focusing on the narrative periods and stories of the Bible.

I especially love the coloring book and include it in my lesson plans for Kindergarten. Your child can color along as you read aloud the corresponding stories of the Bible. This system is based on the very successful Great Adventure line of adult Bible study materials, which have helped hundreds of thousands of people all over the world grow in love for Sacred Scripture and make reading it a part of their daily lives.

Through play, memorization, prayer, and interaction, these learning tools bring familiar Bible stories into a system where children can relate them to their own life while learning the story of Salvation History. (Gr. K-6)

Kit includes:
Bible Timeline – Chart color-coded accordion-style folding chart detailing the 12 periods of Bible history. with vibrant colors and kid-friendly illustrations. Great to use with your history curriculum.
Bible Card Game Set – Instructions for five games are included designed to teach players as young as three the “big picture” of salvation history.
10” x 13” Bible Story Coloring Book – 49 pages of illustrated Bible stories. with four coloring pages from each of the 12 periods of Bible history, ideal for younger children, but helpful for all readers to capture the overall story of the Bible in the context of the 12 periods of Bible history. Best used when reading the Bible to little ones.
• Color-coded bookmark – scaled-down version of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline Chart for easy reference.
Prayer Beads – Used in conjunction with the Bible Timeline Prayer (printed on the back panel of the Great Adventure Kids Bible Timeline Chart) Designed to emphasize the important lessons God wants us to learn from each period of Bible history and helps children learn God’s plan for their lives.

cover_bibleforchildrenThe Catholic Bible for Children
Publisher: Magnificat

This is an excellent choice to use with Kindergarten or 1st graders to help them become familiar with Scripture. This is the Bible I recommend in my Kindergarten Religion Lesson Plans. From the creation of the world to the infancy of the Church, the important stories from both the Old and New Testament are vividly retold and illustrated for young people. Also included are chapters on the prophets and the psalms. A Scripture verse is offered for most stories and can be used as memory work. In the back is a glossary of important people, places and objects, providing added information. (Pre-K, 238 pages, 6½” x 8½”, Softcover, $$)


New Catholic Picture Bible   New Catholic Picture Bible
By Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D. 
Publisher: Catholic Book Publishing

This is a natural second Bible to follow a beginner Bible. The stories are longer and more detailed, providing ample depth for Bible retellings. Fr. Lovasik is faithful to the original Scripture in his prose of these important Bible stories. This is the preferred book for my First Grade Religion Lesson Plans. Here are Catholic stories taken from the Holy Bible, intended for the whole family and easy to understand. The first part treats the Old Testament from Adam to Christ and contains the most important and memorable events in God’s dealings with man during that time. The second part contains sixty stories from the New Testament that narrate beautifully the life, teachings, and work of Our Lord and Savior. These simply written stories, praised by leading Catholic educators for their style, will delight your children time after time. (Gr. 1-3, 240 pages, 5¾” x 8¾”, HC, $)

The Golden Children’s Bible The Golden Children's Bible by Golden Books

Publisher: Penguin/Random House

Perfect for your next step after the New Catholic Picture Bible. This is a great keepsake Bible for your 3rd to 5th graders. Use it for Bible retellings (as I lay out in my 4th grade Lesson plans), or for reading alone, the language is sophisticated and provides much depth for a closer resemblance to Sacred Scripture. Main events of the Old Testament are retold chronologically. New Testament combines all four Gospels into one detailed account and gives accounts from Acts, the Epistles and even Revelation. Written in a clear, simple, yet beautiful style for children. Approved by an editorial board of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish scholars. Original copyright 1965. Realistic full-color illustrations on every page! (Gr. K-6, 510 pages, HC, $$)

Middle Grades – High School Bibles

The Ignatius Catholic Bible Ignatius Bible (RSV) 2nd Edition

Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is our go-to Bible for our 6th grade and up children. Our kids have all received a copy as their Confirmation gift and have taken these copies to college—as it was the preferred version at Christendom , Thomas Aquinas College, and Benedictine College where our children attended. The only contemporary Catholic Bible translation in standard English is even more beautiful in word and design! There are nine color reference maps of such historical places and events as The Exodus from Egypt, Jerusalem – From David to Christ, Palestine in Christ’s Time, and The Holy Land in Modern Times. Also, the Revised Standard Version, second Catholic edition is the only Bible translation that uses standard (non-feminist) English and is in conformity with the Church’s translation guidelines found in the Vatican document, Liturgiam Authenticam. Comes in a variety of formats, Paperback, Hardcover, Compact Leather, and Large Print and eBook. ($$)

Ignatius Study Bible Series          The Gospel According to John, Catholic Study Bible (2nd Ed.) eBook - 25% off

By Scott Hahn/Curtis Mitch
Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is a great help to you and your child’s lessons on particular books of the Bible for its rich annotations, references to other texts in the Bible and Catechism.  We also use the study questions for discussion prompts.  I often found that the material was rich in its content and touched their hearts in such a way that opened up discussions towards their relationship with God. Time is best spent once a week discussing the chapters.  How do you begin discussions of such weighty stuff?  We will use the Study Questions and Questions for Application that go with each chapter. We use the Catechism questions in the Study Guides written by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch to help the parent lead the discussion by providing detailed notes on passages and verses as well as study questions. Very accessible. I detail how to use these in my 6th and 7th grade Religion Lesson Plans. (Grade 6+, PB, or eBook, $$)

Here is a listing of the titles available: †Gospel of Matthew††Gospel of Mark††Gospel of Luke††Gospel of John††Acts of the Apostles††Letters of St. Paul††Genesis††Exodus††Job††… and many more!

The Bible Compass      

By Dr. Edward Sri
Publisher: Ascension Press

Excellent companion to Bible study in high school. The Bible is central to our faith as Catholics, but approaching such a large and complex collection of writings that span thousands of years is intimidating for most of us. The Bible Compass provides readers with the tools to study the Word of God with confidence and purpose within the living Tradition of the Catholic Church. As Catholics we are called to have an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ and the Church as revealed in the Scriptures. Reading the Bible with the proper tools and in the appropriate context will help you grow in your love for the Faith and in your relationship with Jesus Christ himself, who is “the Word made Flesh,” (John 1:1) (Gr 8+, 149 pages, PB, $$)

Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament  
Produced by Raymond Arroyo
Publisher: FutureSoft, Inc

This awesome audio bible is “…not just reading,” explains producer Raymond Arroyo, “these actors are performing, sharing these stories in the same way they were originally communicated—passed from person to person as part of an oral tradition. The stories come alive. propelling us right into history, the way it might have happened.” “… Performed like this,” he says, “you are thrown into the middle of the action. The Bible is suddenly not only understandable, but arresting and compelling.”

Listening is important!!! When reading, we tend to skim and miss important points. Not only will this enhance your child’s Bible studies, it will improve listening skills and ultimately instill a more active participation at Mass. It is endorsed with an Imprimatur from the Vatican and includes a foreword by Pope Benedict XVI. Voiced by internationally-renowned actors. Go to their website to listen to clips from  The Gospel of Mark. (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition translation. The complete audio New Testament is 22 hours, on 18 CD’s, or now as a new app with the Ignatius Bible too, $$)

Please let me know what are your favorite Bibles too!

Paola’s Book Bites: Purity

Here are my go to list of books for passing onto family and friends, on the virtue of purity.  Each book or video offers something practical and more importantly spiritual for fostering purity in our own lives and those most near and dear to us!

Choosing Beauty: A 30-Day Spiritual Makeover for Women
By Gina Loehr
Publisher: Franciscan Media

Gina Loehr does it again, I really enjoyed her insight into the lives of women saints in her book Real Women, Real Saints and learned much from their virtues….now Gina takes us on a real and practical retreat towards inner beauty…the kind that reflects the joy of our Faith. Mascara will help and eyeliner too, but the surest way to a beautiful you doesn’t require hours at the cosmetics counter. The best beauty routine starts within. Choosing Beauty guides you through a day-by-day inner makeover that will give you a glow that can only come through a life infused with the virtues. Learn how to step away from gossip, grow in courage, practice mercy and enter more fully into the qualities that will allow your inner light to shine. A great addition to Choosing Beauty is the inclusion of lively reflections on the virtues presented and questions for discussion. This is a good book to share with your teenage daughters, too! (High School+, 128 pages, PB, $$)


All Things Girl: Friends, Fashion, and Faith
By Cheryl Dickow
Publisher: Bezalel Books

In this exciting book, girls will explore John Paul II’s Letter to Women and will learn how to manage their time and money. They will see themselves in the light of Christ and will learn how to develop a rich and rewarding prayer life. All Things Girl is written for tween and teen-aged girls covering such topics as living a soulful life (what does it really mean to have a soul?), discerning a vocation (consecrated, married or single?), developing a prayer life (getting past boredom and into the good stuff!), living responsibly (financially and spiritually) with dignity and modesty, and finding the right role models (like St. Gianna Beretta Molla). This is the book all women wish they had when they were young girls…and now can’t wait to give! (Ages 12+, 84 pages, 7” x 10”, PB, $$)


All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters
By Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller, Monica Cops and Cheryl Dickow
Publisher: Bezalel Books

This much needed and asked for book is filled with information that every young Catholic boy should have at his fingertips. The sections include: Dignity; Virtues and More; Media and Men that Matter; Vocations; Family and Friends; Body; Know Your History; Boys in the Kitchen; Strong Catholic Men Today; and Building a Prayer Life or bettter known as Basic Combat Training. (Ages 9-15, 200 pages, PB, $$)

“This book talks to kids straight on, no soft peddling, no sidestepping. It speaks to them where they live too much of the time – in the pop culture and media world. It says what good, faithful parents want to say, but may not always be able to find the words.” – Dr. Ray Guarendi, Best-Selling Catholic Author and Speaker

Theology of His/Her Body
By Jason Evert

From Genesis we know that God created men and women in His image and likeness, and from the first letter of John that “God is love”. Therefore men and women are made in the image and likeness of Love. This isn’t hard to see. Look at the design of the male and female bodies. They are made for each other. In fact, neither makes complete sense apart from the other. In this book — which utilizes a dynamic, “flip” book design to be “two books in one” well-known chastity speaker and author Jason Evert unpacks the mystery of what is means to be male and female in light of the Theology of the Body in a language teenagers understand. Your young adults will learn about the profound realities to which their bodies point – and how to live chastely and lovingly towards those of the opposite sex in the way we are created and not in the way the “world” is trying to lead them. This book is so well grounded and solid and never talks down to the reader but lifts them towards the divine plan God has placed in their hearts. (HS+, 102 pages, PB, $$)

Love is a Choice
Publisher: Ignatius Press

This sweet video documents the heroic life of St. Gianna Molla through interviews with her husband, children, friends, letters, and family mementos. You actually watch home movies of this amazing saint! Wow!

St. Gianna, who sacrificed her life to save her unborn baby, was a mother, a medical doctor, a lover of opera, art, and culture; one who can speak much to our present day especially when family life is threatened on so many fronts. This DVD contains the following language options: English, Spanish, or Italian. (DVD, 52 minutes)

St. Gianna Molla: Wife, Mother and Doctor
By Pietro Molla & Elio Guerriero
Publisher: Ignatius Press

Another great role model for our time!! Dr. Gianna Molla (1923-1962) was a dynamic and devoted wife, mother and physician. She loved skiing, playing piano and attending concerts in her native Italy. During her fourth pregnancy she was diagnosed with uterine tumors. She refused treatment that would have aborted her child, opting for a surgery that posed greater risk to herself. After delivering the baby she succumbed to an infection from the surgery. Newly canonized, this multi-faceted woman shows us the ultimate maternal sacrifice as a worthy and even joyful martyrdom. A fitting intercessor in this age of endless attacks on unborn children. (High school+, 125 pages, Illustrated, PB $, .epub $$)

“A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, Gianna Molla gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel.”
– Pope John Paul II