In this post, I have selected books about the great devotions of the Roman Catholic Church: The Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, all of which will greatly invigorate your family's Lenten workout.
The Stations of the Cross for Children, a brand new book by Jerry J. Windley -Daouts, beautifully illustrated by Vicky Shuck, makes the Stations accessible to young children. The Stations contained in the book are from the "New Way of the Cross," which includes some different scenes from the traditional Stations, such as the Last Supper, The Good Thief, Mary and John at the Foot of the Cross, etc. There is a page for each station with short readings and prayers. Recommendations of how to use the book are included. The text is short and simple for five-to-eight-year-olds.
I was happy to find The Stations of the Cross for Children, a beautiful self published book for grades 3-4 by Carolyn Cooney with Mary Cooney. Fifteen classical works of art illustrate the Stations, each with a scripture verse, a description of the painting and a meditation. Great for art studies, too!
The Rosary is another tradition nourishing our childrens' spiritual development. While it should be prayed throughout the year, Lent is a great time to begin or increase your family Rosary practice.
Mary Cooney has published The Rosary in Art for Children, a companion book to Stations of the Cross with classical art plates for each mystery, a bible verse, a description of the painting and a meditation. Grades 3 - 4.
The Complete Illuminated Rosary: An Illustrated Rosary Book For Kids And Their Families, by Jerry J Windley-Daoust and Mark Daoust, is an investment - the deluxe version of the above. It has an entire page for each bead of the rosary with the prayer and a work of classic or contemporary sacred art. You can use the pages of the book in place of the actual rosary beads. This is a book for all ages.
If you cannot afford the Complete Rosary, you can purchase the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries and the Luminous Mysteries in separate volumes.
It is wonderful that a small company, Peanut Butter and Grace, dared to take on the creation of such a glorious book, even if not of all of us can afford it.
Visit the Peanut Butter and Grace website for wonderful Lenten ideas on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, on Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer ideas for kids and teens, and, my favorite, on Giving Up Nagging Your Kids For Lent.
Let's Pray The Rosary by Mauricette Vial-andru, illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudesson, frames the history of the Rosary in a narrative about a family of four praying together. There is lots of information on Saints and miracles connected with the Rosary, even some little known stories.
The book concludes with how-to instructions and the complete Rosary prayers. This book wonderfully complements the art books above.
Mary Holds My Hand by Michele E. Chronister, illustrated by Heather Sleightholm helps preschoolers pray the Rosary with a color illustration for each set of mysteries and beautiful rhyming verse meditations for each decade.
My Path to Heaven by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J. and illustrated by Caryll Houselander allows you to follow another ancient tradition with your children this Lent, the Ignatian Retreat. The book lays out this classic Jesuit retreat adapted for children ages 9-12. First published in 1936 and republished by Sophia Institute Press in 2005, this amazing and beautiful book teaches the basics of the Faith to children, the teachings and concepts that will lead them to Heaven. Each of the 12 chapters ends with review test questions. In the words of the publisher, the book "focuses on proper devotion and right action, not feelings." This book can be used as a retreat/catechism combination ideal for homeschoolers. The publisher encourages copying the black and white illustrations as coloring pages.
Reading Scripture is another important Lenten activity. As a dedicated unschooler, I would just read bible passages to the kids and see what happens. If you prefer a more structured approach, "Come and See" KIDS: The Life of Jesus by Laurie Watson Manhardt, may be the right Catholic bible study for your kids aged 3 to 7. Many parents and homeschoolers love this book because it is easy and fun to use with all the craft ideas and coloring pages needed to keep little ones happy.
If you are looking for ideas to observe Lent with young children, Catholic Icing is a great place for lots of crafts, recipes, printable coloring pages and more. I especially like the Lent Preparation for Children checklist.
For concise descriptions of Lenten history, traditions, prayers, visit
For more Lenten ideas, click on the links to my previous posts:
Eastern Lenten Workout: Climb The Tree With Zacchaeus And The Ladder With Saint John Climacus
Ready, Set, Go: Lenten Workout For Catholic Teens