This year we've been preparing our oldest child to receive her First Holy Communion and First Reconciliation. Our situation is a little different than most in that our parish has no religious education classes so the whole responsibility of making sure she's figuring things out about the Faith, and answering her questions have fallen on my shoulders, which is a little daunting when I think about it!
I've tried to get a few different resources for her so that the different aspects of what she should know for around this age gets covered a few times. When it comes to religious education I think it's valuable to have the different aspects of the faith presented in different ways because you never know what will resonate the best for another person, and especially a small child.
I'm also a big fan of religious texts for kids having actual substance. I won't link to what was provided by the diocese, but let's just say I found it really lacking and hardly talked about "faith" at all. It hardly veered from the very disappointing script of "Jesus is your friend". Our children are exceeding keen to the truth and they deserve to have the fullness given to them, I don't want my kids pandered to but given the whole experience of their rich faith.
All that being said, I'm sure I haven't done a perfect job, but I'm also sure that the Holy Spirit will make up for my lack. It's always good to remember that this isn't a one time thing, this is more getting her in the door to keep receiving knowledge of the Faith. We've got a month and a half left to go until she'll be receiving her First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation so I'm hoping she'll be well prepared by then. These books have been the best help to us!
We use the Faith and Life series for our religion text for school, so we've been working on this book for the whole school year. I still appreciate this series for it's clarity and simply approach while explaining the doctrine of the Church in an age appropriate way.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book, but I found it to be a nicely presented way of bringing together Biblical stories and doctrines of the faith while explaining the Sacraments and the Mass. The pictures are bright, but not perfect, and engage young eyes. I think this is a nice compliment to the text-book like books. My only criticism is it's clunky prose, at first I thought this may be a translation, but the book page clearly states it was written by an English speaker and nothing can be blamed on poor translators. But it doesn't effect the overall good quality of teaching this book provides, just bugs a picky mom.
I'm not going to lie. I'm using this primarily to keep my from teaching heresy! There's just something reassuring in the pat question and answer catechism that you just can't find anywhere else. I know I don't want it to be the only way my kids learn their faith, but it is helpful in clearly up important things like, "How many persons in the Holy Trinity?" This little book isn't too intimidating and knowing that the questions cover the basics helps me know that I'm covering them in depth in other places. It's a little catechetical insurance policy.
This book is so good at presenting the teaching and meaning of the Sacrament of Penance to children in a straightforward, understandable, and clear way. I love that it's laid out with questions and answers, that it respects children and their capability to understand their own need for forgiveness and capability for sin -- two things which are so daunting to most catechetical writers that they ignore it altogether. I know this book has given my daughter confidence when at first she seemed tentative and unsure what Confession meant.
Your First Communion: Meeting Jesus, Your True Joy by Pope Francis
This is a devotional type book which actually makes a great compliment to the more catechetical books we've been using. Each reflection by Pope Francis has a nice, bright illustration and the reflections are straight forward and easy to understand even for children while at the same time being beautiful and substantial! I also just love that this is a book of actual papal writings presented to children! This is the type of thing that needs to be more present in catechesis from the very beginning--presenting the teachings of the popes early helps us realize that the teachings are important, approachable, and necessary for our everyday life. This book would also make a really great First Communion gift.
Ignatius Press kindly provided me review copies of two of these books, but my opinions are entirely my own...clearly!
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