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A Handful of Helpful Books for Children

At the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education, we are always on the lookout for great resources for parents. Whenever we discover some that will be beneficial, we do our best to pass them on to you! This week's blog is about a handful of books that have come to our attention recently. They are written for children at a variety of ages. We hope that you find them helpful. We also hope to periodically offer you more "handfuls" of books that come our way!

For the youngest children among us, we have found the board book called What Do You See at Liturgy? by Kristina Kallas-Tartara. This brightly-colored board book is filled with pictures of what a child will see when they go to the Divine Liturgy. The text is simple, with a delightful rhyming pattern. The photos are basic, featuring only the item being discussed on a white background, but the colorful photos are crisp and engaging. This book is the perfect size for little hands, and offers us an opportunity to help our wee ones enter into the service when their attention needs to be redirected. To learn more about this book, and/or to purchase it for a little one in your life, visit the author's Etsy store.

You may remember our blog post about Marjorie Kunch's book, When My Baba Died. (Check out the blog if you missed it before, so that you are aware of this wonderful resource for parents to use to help their preschool-through- elementary-aged childen learn about an Orthodox funeral.) We recently learned that Marjorie Kunch has also published a companion workbook to go with the book! When My Baba Died Activity Workbook is a full-sized workbook that parents and children can read through and complete together as a way to familiarize children with the Orthodox Christian funeral service and its components. The activity workbook has activities at a variety of levels, for many different ages of readers. Among other activities, there are coloring pages, drawing spaces, places to process the experience through writing, word searches, prayers to pray together, and even a recipe for Koliva! This activity book partners well with the book itself and will be helpful for parents to use to help their children learn more about what happens when a loved one departs this life. We recommend reading and working through these books before a child experiences a loss. It could also work to have them on hand to use in the event of a loss, but when such a difficult time happens to a family, there is so much going on that it may be challenging to even find the time to process in this way. That is why we recommend using them before a child's first experience with the departure of a loved one. If you have, when a family member departs this life, you will be able to pull these books out and revisit them, pointing out, "remember when we talked about this? See, this is what we will experience with grandpa's funeral today..." To purchase either book, or both of them together, visit www.paschapress.com/services.html.

Several years ago when it was first published, we asked two young people to evaluate Hear Me: A Prayer Book for Orthodox Teens, written/compiled by Annalisa Boyd. You may have read their evaluations here: www.antiochian.org/christianeducation/hearme. The third book we want to feature in this handful is the second edition of Hear Me. This edition is a smaller size at 4"x6", so it is quite comfortable to hold and easy to fit in a backpack or a back pocket. Although it is smaller, the new edition contains additional prayers. It also answers more questions that young people have, and it tackles even more of the difficult subjects that young people face. This tiny book contains much needed help for our high school and young adult children, sweetly wrapped in a pleasant, "able-to- be-used-in-public-by-young- people" cover. It is an excellent addition to any Orthodox Christian young person's library. Purchase one (or a handful) for the youth in yor life here

So, there is our current handful of helpful books. What books have you recently found helpful that the rest of our community may benefit from? We'd love to know what is in YOUR hand! Please comment below to share your suggestions with the rest of us! Thank you in advance!

Here are links related to this handful of books, which you may also find helpful:

  • What Do You See at Liturgy? by Kristina Kallas-Tartara is a lovely little board book about church and is worth noting of its own accord. However, it led us also to the the author's blog page, called Raising Orthodox Christians. The blog is a wonderful resource of its own! Check out the page to find blogs about Orthodoxy, teaching children, activities that will help children to learn more about the Faith, and recipes for allergy-friendly fasting.
  • Follow Pascha Press (the publisher of the When My Baba Died Activity Workbook) on Facebook for encouragement, tidbits of humor, and additional resources related to parenting and/or the departure of loved ones. (A side note: the publisher selects an Orthodox-related charity to receive a tithe of their income for each quarter of the year! Find out the current charity at www.paschapress.com/about.html.)
  • Annalisa Boyd, the author of Hear Me, has also written two other books: The Ascetic Lives of Mothers and Special Agents of Christ. Both are wonderful resources for Orthodox Christian families. She also offers many ideas and encouragements for moms/parents/teachers in her podcast  and on her facebook page.