Heroes For Catholic Kids in Bonnie Way’s “Canadian Saints Kids Activity Book”
Bonnie Way, who blogs as the Koala Mom, has written the second book in her Saint 4 Kids series, Canadian Saints Kids Activity Book, in collaboration with illustrator Katherine Babcock. This book is a treasure trove for homeschoolers, teachers at Catholic schools and parents. The sheer abundance of materials and activities and the spiritual depth of the stories make me wish I had had this book available when my kids were young. This book is a guide to sainthood for children ages eight and up.
The author introduces six Canadian saints: St. Marie of the Incarnation, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, St. François de Laval, St. Marguerite d'Youville, and St. Andre Bessette.
The only saint in this book known to me is St. Kateri. I knew of St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Brebeuf and his company of Jesuit martyrs, but I had not realized there were so many more. I am happy to have met four new women saints as role models and inspiration for Catholic girls.
The book begins with an introduction to children written in simple and clear prose without being simplistic. Here’s the beginning: “Saints are like heroes. They are ordinary men and women just like you and your family, but their great love for God helped them do great things for Him in their time.” The emphasis on heroism is so important today because there is such a lack of true heroes. It is so important to inoculate our kids against idolizing sports and rock stars whose virtues may be questionable at the least.
The book offers a lot of material concerning each saint. Each holy person has a summary page with the date and place of their birth and death, their feast day, and their historical achievements. There is a characteristic quote in a nice font that looks like handwriting. We are given a title the saint may be known under, e.g. Lily of the Mohawks for St. Kateri, or a religious ‘job description’, e.g. ‘mystic’, which, again, is simply and clearly explained. There is also a symbol and a stylized picture of the saint.
Bonnie Way introduces each saint in a beautifully written, two-page biography along with additional narratives about the saints’ individual qualities. St. Marie of the Incarnation, for example, receives an impressive, one-page essay titled “What is a Mystic”, which affords clearly formulated but mature insight into mysticism, complete with a reference quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But this is not all. Bonnie allows the saints to speak for themselves with an entire page of quotes each.
Activities include popular staples such as coloring pages, word games and mazes but also more unusual ideas, e.g. ‘design a postage stamp.’ More advanced and profound is the ‘write your own prayer rule’ guided story writing activity with very imaginative and educational scenarios.
There are activities for different age levels, each thoughtfully designed to reinforce the information provided in the introductory narratives and each with spiritual value.
The most impressive feature of this book distills all the previous information in ‘how to apply the Saint’s life and teachings to our lives’. The child is asked to imitate the saintly hero or heroine.
Bonnie Way is a remarkable writer for children. She expresses complex theological concepts in a clear kid-friendly way, which is such an important and undervalued art. The Canadian Saints Kids Activity book will truly build knowledge and foster relationships with the saints.
Don’t forget the first volume in the Saints 4 Kids series: North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book.
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Blessings to you and your family