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A Guide to Spiritual Reading for Youth Ages 4-17

By Rev. Thomas G. Morrow, S.T.D.

The World, it seems, does a much better job teaching children its ways than we Christians do teaching them the ways of Christ. How important that parents and teachers make the effort to provide our children the opportunity to learn about the heros of the Church, our saints.

Parents might choose to read about the saints to their younger children, and as they get older, encourage them to read books on the saints themselves. What fortunate children they will be if they get this training from their earliest ages. And, how important that children learn a good deal about the saints before they become teenagers!

It doesn't require a great deal of time to introduce children to the saints. Even one short story about a saint each day, or five minutes of a longer story daily would be a great introduction to these holy men and women. When we do this we will often see little change in children's behavior for some time, but then at the right moment, one or two incidents from a saint's life will come to mind, and a little conversion will take place. Holiness, after all, does not come all at once. It must take hold one day at a time.

How many of the saints themselves got their inspiration from the lives of the saints they heard as children. Parents, wouldn't you like your children to become saints? And, children, wouldn't you like to become saints?

There are three separate lists herein. The first is for ages 11-17; the second is for ages 8-12; and the third is for ages 4-8. Granted, not all four-year-olds can read, but their parents can, and the books recommended are suited for parents to read to their four- and five-year-olds.

Ages 11-17

1. St. Martin de Porres by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 122 pages. Story of this humble, Dominican brother who was disowned by his white father and disliked by his black mother. Miraculous cures occurred through his prayers. He spent his life in prayer before the tabernacle (hours a day) and in helping huge numbers of the poor.

2. Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney) by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 211 pages. Priest who struggled with Latin and almost did not make it. Denied permission to hear confessions his first year, but later heard confessions 15-16 hours a day.

3. The Little Flower (St Thérèse of Lisieux) by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 167 pages. French girl who became Carmelite nun at 15 and lived childlike faith in humble obedience until her death at age 24.

4. St. Catherine of Siena by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 65 pages. Another "saint from childhood" who became so holy through prayer and self-denial she was given a wedding ring from God.

5. St. Margaret Mary (Alacoque) by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 224 pages. French girl who joined Visitation Order and had revelations from the Lord, especially about devotion to His Sacred Heart.

6. St. Thomas Aquinas by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 81 pages. Humble Dominican priest who was called the "Dumb Ox" by his classmates because he was slow, but became the greatest theologian in the Church.

7. St. Louis de Montfort by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books. 211 pages. A great biography of this saint who explained so well how to devote your life to Mary and thereby get very close to her Son, Jesus.

8. Blessed Marie of New France, The Children of Fatima, King David And His Songs, The Miraculous Medal, Pauline Jaricot, St. Benedict, St. Dominic, St. Francis Solano, St. Hyacinth of Poland, St. John Masias, St. Paul The Apostle, St. Rose of Lima, Patron Saint of 1st Communicants (Bl. Imelda Lambertini) - All by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, TAN Books.

9. St. Monica - by F. A. Forbes, TAN Books, 103 pages. Mother of a sinful son and wife of a cheating husband. She converted her husband by her kindness, and her son by her constant prayers. Her son became a priest, a bishop, and then a saint - St. Augustine.

10. Pope St. Pius X - by F. A. Forbes, TAN Books, 125 pages. Delightful story of this humble but great pope who introduced more frequent communion, and lowered the age for first communion. Fought great errors in the Church. Written especially for teens.

11. St. Vincent de Paul - by F. A. Forbes, TAN Books, 105 pages. French saint who did a huge amount to help the poor in his country. Founded Vincentian Order and helped found Daughters of Charity. Aimed at teens, and adults.

12. St. Teresa of Avila by F. A. Forbes, TAN Books, 108 pages. Spanish Carmelite who reformed her order, by her strong determination to found new convents despite lots of opposition. Wrote many books on prayer and spirituality; had great sense of humor, always cheerful.

13. St. Athanasius by F. A. Forbes, TAN Books, 98 pages. Bishop of Alexandria who was exiled from his diocese 5 times but kept coming back to fight against errors.

14. St. Catherine of Siena, by F. A. Forbes, TAN Books, 103 pp. Devout from a young age, Catherine became a lay Dominican and lived life of prayer and penance. Dictated a book, The Dialogue, in which God the Father spoke to her and explained many spiritual things. Died at 33.

15. Treasure in Clay, autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, Ignatius Press. Fascinating account of this famous, holy priest and bishop, the "TV priest."

16. St. John Bosco & St. Dominic Savio by Catherine Beebe, Ignatius Press, 157 pages. Fascinating story of fun-loving priest, John Bosco and his pupil, Dominic who lived to be only 14 years old, but became a saint.

17. St. Isaac and The Indians by Milton Lomask, Ignatius Press, 175 pages. Jesuit missionary who converted many Indians in upstate New York. Martyred by the Indians.

18. St. Ignatius and The Company of Jesus by August Derleth, Ignatius Press. Strong-willed Spaniard who underwent great conversion, lived so humbly and in poverty, founded the Jesuits.

19. St. Catherine Labouré by Alma Power-Waters, Ignatius Press, 140 pages. Daughter of Charity to whom Mary appeared and gave her the Miraculous Medal.

20. St. Francis of The Seven Seas by Albert J. Nevins, M. M., Ignatius Press, 168 pp. Brilliant teacher who joined Ignatius, became Jesuit and went to the far East to convert thousands (Francis Xavier).

21. The Curé of Ars, St. Therese and The Roses, St. Dominic and The Rosary, St. Elizabeth's Three Crowns, Fr. Marquette and the Great River, Edmund Campion, Bernadette: Our Lady's Little Servant, Francis and Clare: Saints of Assisi, St. Anthony and The Christ Child, Mother Cabrini, Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Pius X, St. Philip of The Joyous Heart, Mother Seton and The Sisters of Charity, St. Vincent de Paul: Saint of Charity, St. Joan, St. Benedict: Hero of The Hills, all part of the Ignatius Press Vision Book Series (along with the previous 5 books). All highly recommended.

22. Give Me Souls, (Life of St. John Bosco), by Peter Lappin, Don Bosco Publications. 363 pp. Detailed life of this delightful saint, who loved to juggle and do magic tricks for his friends as a boy. Helped thousands of troubled boys in Italy turn their lives over to Christ. SRM Distributors (201) 986-0503.

23. St. Dominic Savio, by St. John Bosco, Don Bosco Publications. 187 pp. (Also, see Peter Lappin's life of St. Dominic Savio, same publisher.) Dominic was a fun-loving but devout boy in John Bosco's school. He died before his 15th birthday. SRM Distributors (201) 986-0503.

Ages 8-12

1. See F. A. Forbes books above.

2. St. Anthony of Padua, Fire and Light, by M. C. Kerry, and M. E. Tebo, Pauline Books, 120 pp. One of the greatest preachers the Church has ever had. Whole towns would come to hear him speak about God.

3. Bl. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Shepherds of Fatima, by A. E. Heffernan and P. E. Jablonski, Pauline Books, 108 pp. Two of the 3 children Mary appeared to at Fatima in 1917. Both died young.

4. Journeys with Mary; Apparitions of Our Lady, by Z. DeSantis, Pauline Books, 132 pp. Our Lady's appearances at Mt. Carmel, Guadalupe, Rue de Bac (Miraculous Medal), Fatima and others.

5. St. Bernadette Soubirous; Light in the Grotto, by A. E. Heffernan and M. E. Tebo, Pauline Books, 120 pp. The French girl to whom Our Lady appeared at Lourdes in 1858.

6. St. Edith Stein; Blessed by The Cross, by M. L. Hill, Pauline Books, 132 pp. Jewish intellectual who became a Catholic, then a Carmelite nun.

7. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, by Jeanne M. Grunwell, Pauline Books, 132pp. Wife, mother, school teacher, and founder of the Daughters of Charity. 1st American saint.

8. St. Joan of Arc, by Susan H. Wallace, Pauline Books, 132pp. Devout teenager who led France on the battlefield against England and won. Captured, burned at the stake.

9. St. Julie Billiart, by Mary K. Glavich, Pauline Books, 120pp. Belgian girl who loved to teach the faith to others. While paralyzed for 22 years, she founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Miraculously healed.

10. St. Maximilian Kolbe, by P. E. Jablonski, Pauline Books, 120pp. Polish priest who spread great devotion to Mary worldwide. Was held in Auschwitz during WWII and gave his life in place of another inmate.

11. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Call Me Little Theresa, Pauline Books, with previous 10 books.

12. St. Bernadette, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Elizabeth [of Hungary], St. Joan of Arc, St Martin [of Tours], St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Therese of Liseux, St. Vincent de Paul, 32pp. and [Fr.] James Alberione [founder of Pauline Priests and Daughters of St. Paul], 80pp. (All Pauline Comic Books).

13. Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, two volumes, revised and edited by Susan Helen Wallace, fsp, Pauline Books, 1999. One or two page accounts of over 360 saints (180+ per volume) written for young people.

Ages 4-8

(Parents can read these books to non-readers)

14. Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, two volumes, (See above description).

15. Treasure Box Books - Edited by Maryknoll Sisters, TAN. Twenty 32-page books which teach children how to be good Catholics. They include stories of the saints, poems, games, activities, and crafts. Also, info. on Guardian Angels.

16. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Paul The Apostle, St. Peter The Apostle, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Martin de Porres, St. Patrick, St. Anthony of Padua, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe. All part of St. Joseph Picture Books - 81 short books on the saints and Catholic practices by Fr. L. Lovasik and Fr. J. Winkler, Catholic Book Publishing Co.

17. First Book of Saints, St. Joseph Beginner's Book of Saints, My Friends The Saints, and Picture Book of Saints - all by Fr. L. Lovasik, Catholic Book Publishing Co.

18. St. Angela Merici; Leading People to God, Pauline Books, hardback, 74 pp., by Sr. Maryellen Keefe. Story of woman who founded the Ursuline Sisters to teach, serve in hospitals, prisons, and help the poor.

19. St. Colette; in The Footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare, Pauline Books, hardback, 74 pp. Woman whom St. Francis appeared to and asked to reform the Poor Clares.

20. St. Anthony of Padua; Proclaimer of The Good News, St. Catherine Labouré; Mary's Messenger, St. Francis of Assisi; God's Gentle Knight, St. John Bosco; The Friend of Children and Young People, St. Thérèse of Lisieux; And The "Little Way" of Love, St. Vincent de Paul; Servant of Charity, all Pauline Books, hardbacks.

21. Tomie de Paola's Book of Bible Stories, Penguin/Putnam, 128 pp. Comprehensive collection of Bible stories with illustrations by award-winning artist and story-teller Tomie dePaola. Also he has books on Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi, and The Lady of Guadalupe. (Most available from Christian book stores &

22. Great Women of The Bible and many other Bible stories in the Arch Books series, Concordia.

Where to Get Books for Children

Mail Order Houses (ask for their lists)

Pauline Books & Media - (800) 836-9723. They also carry other publishers.

TAN Books - P.O. Box 424, Rockford, IL 61105. (800) 437-5876. Many fine spiritual works.

Ignatius Press - P.O. Box 1339, Ft. Collins, CO 80522. (800) 651-1531.

Christian Book Distributors, P.O. Box 7000, Peabody, MA 01961. (978) 977-5000. Christian books & tapes, Bibles, etc. (some Catholic).

Bulk leaflets of this article are available to purchase from our online store.

*Most, if not all of these books can be found on the web at or at For used books, go to or Or try public library's inter-library loan.