Saint Joseph: A Comprehensive List of Books and Resources For Catholic Kids And Their Families
Pope Francis has proclaimed 2021 the Year of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. Surprisingly, it is a hard to find books about the foster father of Our Lord. The hidden life of this great saint is not a popular subject for writers, it seems. This post contains books about St. Joseph for Catholic kids of all ages, along with some audio, video and online resources I have collected over a year’s time. You will find stories about St. Joseph from Holy Scripture, the Apocrypha, the Church Fathers, legend and folklore. May they help your family to joyfully celebrate Righteous Joseph, Helper and Intercessor for our Souls, in this year dedicated to him.
Here is what you can do:
Chant an Akathist Hymn to Saint Joseph
One excellent resource came to our family in the form of a beautiful traveling icon of St. Joseph. The icon was accompanied by The Akathist Hymn to the Righteous Joseph, the Betrothed of the All-holy Virgin Mary. In our Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, akathist hymns are a living art form. Akathist means "standing". Akathist hymns are chanted standing, mostly in honor of Mary, Our Blessed Theotokos, on her various feast days. The St. Joseph Akathist follows the traditional structure, alternating narrative parts of the life of St. Joseph with poetic praises assigning a wonderful abundance of titles to the Saint: “Scion of the root of Jesse”, “more glorious than kings”, “more righteous than the patriarchs and forefathers”, and my favorite, “terror of demons”. There are no less than 12 times 6 praises altogether! Our family chanted this hymn divided into parts (it is long) during the two weeks the icon stayed at our house. The Akathist certainly gives St. Joseph the praise he deserves and teaches us almost everything there is to know about him. This is an Orthodox hymn and the Orthodox Church is mentioned a couple of times. You could substitute this with "Catholic Church" or you could explain to your children that our Universal Church is catholic and orthodox at the same time.
Study Apocryphal Writings
The Akathist to St. Joseph mentioned above includes details about the Saint’s life from apocryphal sources. The most important of these are The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary and the Protoevangelium of James. Even though these sources did not make their way into the canon of Holy Scripture, they are respected in the Church and details from them have been incorporated into Catholic liturgical texts.
Read Pope Francis
Read Patris Corde, With a Father’s Heart, a beautiful apostolic letter by Pope Francis
Consecrate Your Family to St. Joseph
Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Father Donald Calloway, MIC
This is a 33-day program of consecration with lots of information including prayers, devotions and the 10 Wonders of St. Joseph.
Read About St. Joseph As A Family
I found the best and most comprehensive story about St. Joseph in Dennis McGeehan’s The Diaries of Joseph and Mary. These fictional diaries are fun to read and draw from the above-mentioned apocryphal writings as well as from the Church Fathers, legends and the Saints. The book ends with 101 questions and answers about St. Joseph - a wonderful resource! Read my detailed review here:
Read A Board Book About St. Joseph
Read about St. Joseph: Picture Books , Ages 3-9
The Holy Family by Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, ages 3-7. This is a small, nicely illustrated St. Joseph picture Book, published in 2003, telling the major events the lives of the Holy Family.
Good Saint Joseph by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik is a classic for ages 3-7. This is solid Catholic teaching, telling the story of Saint Joseph from the nativity to the Saint’s death. This book was first published in 1978, retaining some of the lovely, traditional language of the Church as shown in the title.
Father and Son by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Fabian Negrin, ages 4-8.
This beautiful book introduces a mystery theologians cannot wrap their minds around to elementary-level children. Joseph looks at his new-born step-son in the manger, realizing that he is asked to be a father to the one who created him, the one who created the heavens and the earth; the sun, the moon and the stars; etc.
The Saints and Me series teaches the virtues to children ages 4-9. Mary and Joseph: Models of Faith and Love by Barbara Yoffie, illustrated by Katharine Borgatti, concentrates on the virtues of faith and love. The illustrations are gentle and appealing.
Staircase for the Sisters by Pamela Love, with the loveliest, happy illustrations by John Joseph (aptly named). Ages 4-7.
Read about the miraculous staircase in the Chapel of Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was built in 1876 by a mysterious carpenter. The stranger arrived on the last day of a novena to St. Joseph prayed by the Sisters. The book includes an explanation of novenas and a novena to St. Joseph especially written for young children.
Joseph’s Heart: A Story of Adoption by Mary Clare Evans
The author wrote this book for adopted children and their parents. It tells the story of Christmas from the point of view of St. Joseph as an adoptive father. The beautiful illustrations are by the author.Ages 5 and up.
Saint Joseph by Francesca Fabris, tells the story of the Saint’s life illustrated by glowing and delicate contemporary art. The story includes apocryphal material like the flowering staff. The author adapts the language for young children while remaining close to the biblical text. Ages 5 and up.
The Story of St. Joseph For Children by Sister Eleanore, C.S.C. Imprimatur 1933, is a small inexpensive 32 page booklet telling the Saint’s life from the betrothal to his death. It includes prayers, hymns and a litany to St. Joseph, with 13 old-fashioned illustrations. Ages 5-8
Listen To An Audio Book About St. Joseph
St Joseph: From an Angel in a Dream by Holy Heroes is a professionally produced 15- minute audio drama about the fatherhood of St. Joseph for ages 5 to 8. You can hear the ox mooing in the background when Jesus is born. This audio book is available as MP3 download and on CD. Take a look at the website. There are many Saints’ stories on the website along with lots of great teaching materials.
Read About St. Joseph: Beginning Reader
The Story of St. Joseph, by Brother Ernest, C.S.C, illustrated by Carolyn Lee Jagodits
This is a level-one reader from the In the Footsteps of the Saints biography series by Mary’s Books Publishing. This book is a reprint originally published in 1957. Even though the font is large, the vocabulary is not as easy as we might expect from a modern easy reader. Grades 2-3. Imprimatur.
Read About St. Joseph , Ages 9-12
Around the Year Once Upon a Time Saints. Find St. Joseph in the third collection of Saints’ lives by Ethel Pochocki, with wonderful drawings by Ben Hatke. The extensive text is very engaging The text is very engaging, dramatized by occasional poetic license. The book has an imprimatur! Ages 9-11.
This is a beautiful book presenting the lives of twenty of the most popular Saints, including Saint Joseph, illustrated with high-quality prints of great works of art. Ages 10-12.
Watch a Movie About St. Joseph
The Staircase with Barbara Hershey and William Petersen is a 95-minute, 1998, CBS production about the miraculous staircase in Santa Fe .
Read Articles About St. Joseph
About St. Joseph’s Staircase in the Chapel of Loretto in Santa Fe:
Why St. Joseph is called the Terror of Demons (this title is also in the akathist above)
Legends and stories:
Listen to and Sing Songs about St. Joseph
Learn and Have Fun With Activities About St. Joseph
The Saint Joseph mini book is a cute eight page printable download from Teresa Herkel’s Heaven’s Little Helpers series, grades 1-3, with coloring pages.
Here’s another St. Joseph Mini-Book. This one has titled blank pages with writing prompts, teaching research skills to your child. It’s free if your parish has a membership.
Read About St.Joseph: Adults
The Shadow of the Father by Polish author Jan Dobraczynski
This book is recommended by Pope Francis, a novel about St. Joseph based on the Gospel. I have only just discovered it and have not read it, but I wanted to include it here. It has great reviews on Amazon. If you read it before me, please let me know what you think and if it is suitable for teens. Thank you.
St. Joseph, pray for us!