Summer gift ideas for young Catholics

Reviewer Katie Bogner recommends these three books for consideration as gifts for First Communicants, confirmands, and high school or college graduates. (Provided photo)

Reviewed by Katie Bogner

Whether you are looking for sacrament and celebration gifts or suggestions for fun summer reading, here are some great new books for Catholic kids.

For Your First Communicant

“Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus” — Maura Roan McKeegan

This is the newest edition to the Old and New series, a fantastic series of children’s books on Biblical Typology. The series connects the Old and New Testaments in a beautiful and accessible way using side-by-side parallels and vivid illustrations. This picture book shows how Moses prefigured Jesus with rich, deep connections in both the words and images. Simple enough to be enjoyed by young children, it also presents a rich theology that can be discussed with your First Communicant and beyond.

For Your Confirmand

“Our Friends in Heaven, Volume 1 & 2” — The Daughters of St. Paul

One focus of confirmation preparation is getting to know the saints. We look to these Heavenly friends to guide our path here on earth and pray for us on our journey to Heaven. This two-volume collection of daily saint biographies features a wide variety of saints and blesseds from around the world. Having these books on hand would be a perfect way for the soon-to-be or recently confirmed to frequently look to the example of the saints, seeing the encouraging variety of those who showed heroic virtue through their commitment to Christ.

For Your High School or College Grad

“Cultivating Virtue: Self Mastery with the Saints” Translated by the Order of Mercy

This daily devotional would be a perfect addition to a new graduate’s desk or bookshelf. Organized around a monthly theme virtue, the book includes a saint quote for each day followed by a short but substantial reading about how a saint lived out that virtue. The leatherette cover, gilded pages, and ribbon bookmark enhance the keepsake quality, making it a memorable and usable gift.

Looking for summer family reading? Our reviewer Katie Bogner offers these suggestions. (Provided photo)

For Summer Family Reading

“This is the Church” — Katie Warner

Gorgeously and creatively illustrated, this picture book tells the story of salvation history for little Catholics in a cohesive and super age appropriate way. It features bite-sized pieces, but still contains the fullness of the truth, which will leave them curious for more and eager to find connections in their own practice of the faith. The visual storytelling is shared through a mix of black and white backgrounds and vibrant stained glass windows and blends perfectly with words that communicate how each child has a role in the church and that every story leads to Jesus.

“Holy Mysteries: 12 Investigations into Extraordinary Cases” — Sophie de Mullenheim

This super fun nonfiction is about intriguing Catholic “mysteries” like incorrupt saints, eucharistic miracles, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Loretto staircase, and more. It’s high interest and perfect for engaging late elementary to middle schoolers. The fact file style interior layout includes photographs, history, explanations, and definitions. It’s a great way to share some of the incredible but true marvels of our faith, and how they can point us back to our all-powerful God.

“Abba Moses: Notorious Robber, Desert Father” — Andrew Votipka

Hum-drum CCD class? Bored students? Eccentric catechist? Mysterious book? Time travel? Robber/Murderer turned Monk/Saint? This adventurous encounter between modern kids and a saint from centuries past is not exactly your typical Catholic story. This chapter book would make an entertaining read for a third- to sixth-grader, or a fun family read aloud. Adults won’t want to miss the “Religious Education Committee Meeting” at the end!

“Louis and Zélie: The Holy Parents of Saint Thérèse” — Ginamarie Tennant

This is a brand new addition to the Vision Books series from Ignatius Press, which are awesome staples for middle schoolers. It shares the beauty of Louis and Zélie’s life, starting with each of their childhoods and continuing through their businesses, marriage, and parenting. The author included facts researched from Zélie’s own letters to help form this biographical novel. What a gift this book is to share with children as a way to highlight the variety of Vocations within the universal call to holiness.

Katie Bogner

KATIE BOGNER is director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Parish in Lacon and junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School, Peoria. A popular blogger at, she is the author of “Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children.”


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