Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Joyful Witness

I wasn't sure what exactly to expect when I picked up Rany Hain's Joyful Witness How to Be an Extraordinary Catholic.  Once I started reading this book I had the hardest time putting it down.  When my little ones took naps, I reached for this book.  It was such an enjoyable book that I zipped through it in just a few days time.

The book is less of a how to for being an extraordinary Catholic and more a collection of stories about people just like you or me who do things that make them extraordinary Catholics.  The key is, they joyfully embrace their faith and seek to answer the call to holiness and from there they radiate it and ignite others.

The stories of those who are featured in this book are nothing short of inspiring.  I know sometimes you can look at someone and say "Wow, so and so is so holy!  I wish I could be like that but she's just in a totally different class.  I can't do that."  The thing is, you can.  You just have to start.  Everyone of these extraordinary Catholics featured in this book are all just like you or me.   Each story begins with a quote either from scripture or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Their stories illustrate a real life example of that scripture or catechism reference in action.  At the end of each story there are steps you can take to emulate the example of the person featured along with a series of questions for reflection.  So if you're thinking that you're just an ordinary Catholic and you can't do what they have done, think again.  Holiness is for everyone.  You just have to want it and be willing to pursue it!

I highly recommend this book if you're looking for inspiration to become an extraordinary Catholic.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

I was provided with a review copy of Joyful Witness by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  You can lear more about this title or purchase a copy of this book here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Prayers for Young Catholics

Prayers for Young Catholics is a pocket sized hardcover prayer book compiled by the Daughters of St. Paul that is good for school aged children.  The prayer book contains a dedication page which makes it ideal for gift giving.  It would be a great gift idea for a child who has just received the sacrament of first reconciliation or first Holy Communion.

The prayer book is divided into nine sections:

  • Basic Prayers
  • Prayers to Mary
  • Prayers to Saints
  • Prayers from the Bible
  • Prayers for Various Needs
  • The Rosary
  • The Stations of the Cross
  • Our Catholic Faith
  • The Seasons of the Church
Overall, this prayer book provides a wonderful overview of the faith and contains the means to help foster life long devotions.  I think the layout for the book is quite nice and the book looks like it will withstand many years of use.

The artwork in the prayer book is varied.  It's really a mix of traditional and modern images as well as photographs.  My personal preference with prayer books is to have a more old fashioned traditional feel, so while not all of the artwork in this prayer book appeals to me, it might be more appealing to those who are maybe put off by things that have a more traditional look.  So really, I suppose it all just boils down to personal preferences.

Overall, this is a nice prayer book that is easy to use thanks to a great table of contents.  I have several prayer books that I love that I wish had a table of contents like this.  This prayer book is a good pick if you're looking for a prayer book that isn't also a missal.

I was provided with a review copy of Prayers for Young Catholics by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  You can purchase a copy of this book or take a peek inside of it here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Fearless

It's odd, but for the longest time I felt like there weren't all that many American saints.  I knew about St. Katharine Drexel, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann but outside of those, I was largely unaware that there were many more.  Early last year I had read a book on American martyrs and saints which served to whet my appetite for learning more about them.  I can't tell you what I was reading when a copy of Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau's Fearless: Stories of the American Saints showed up at my house many months ago.  All I know was shortly after it arrived, the book was in my hands every time I found a spare moment until I hit the Bibliography.

The book details the lives of about a dozen American saints.  Unlike the book I had read early last year, these stories gave more background on the saints simply because there were fewer saints being discussed.  So I rather enjoyed getting to know some of these saints better.

I found this book to not only be a great source of information on various American saints, but also a great source of supplemental material for my daughter's 8th grade history book.  Many of the saints who are detailed in this book are also mentioned in her history text book, so the book is good supplemental reading for her, or for me to be able to help her take a more in-depth look at the saint or the time period from which he or she hailed.

Overall the book was an enjoyable read.  I found it hard to put the book down.  You know you have a good book on your hands when you don't want to stop reading it until you get to the end.

I was provided with a review copy of Fearless by the publisher, Franciscan Media, in exchange for my honest review.  You can purchase a copy or take a peek inside this book at Amazon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: Queen of Apostles Prayer Book

I don't think it's any big secret that I really like prayer books.  Most books I read get read once, maybe twice and then they sit on a shelf or get passed around to my friends.  Sometimes I feel like I'm a private library, only I don't exactly keep track of who has borrowed what and there are never any fines for returning books late.  But prayer books are different.  The ones I like I find myself turning to frequently.  They're the books that will be around for the long haul.  Generally speaking, I find that I gravitate to prayer books that are pre-Vatican II because they tend to contain prayers where the language is more beautiful, and in using those prayer books, I feel like I am able to draw closer to God.

I was recently given the opportunity to review the Queen of Apostles Prayer Book from Pauline Books & Media.  Queen of Apostles is a new up-to-date edition of a prayer book that has been around for more than fifty years.  This prayer book is really beautifully done.  It has a leatherette cover and the sewn page binding, so there are no worries about the pages falling out from years of use like you can find with glued bindings.  The pages are nice and thick, too.

As I paged through this prayer book I was amazed at how much this resembled my favorite older prayer books.  From the prayers included in this book to the language used in the prayers, this book has a very traditional feel to it.  It's not modernized to the point of stripping it of all it's beauty like some others.  It reminds me of a cross between the Mother Love and Blessed Be God prayer books, with more of a leaning towards the former.

The book is divided into the following sections:

  • Daily Prayers
  • Prayers to the Holy Trinity
  • Eucharistic Devotions
  • Prayers to Our Lady
  • Prayers to the Angels
  • Prayers to the Saints
  • Prayers of the Saints
  • Prayers from Scripture
  •  Seasonal Prayers
  • Latin Prayers and Hymns
  • Helps for Spiritual Growth
  • Catholic Beliefs and Practices
I was particularly impressed with the sections of this book that included prayers to the Blessed Mother and the prayers to and by the saints.  In the section on the Blessed mother I like the scriptural explanation of the mysteries of the Rosary.  I think this is done better than in other prayer books I have.  The section on prayers to the saints is filled with prayers for all different situations and needs. The prayers by the Saints is a beautiful variety of prayers written by the saints. I found several prayers in that section that I know are destined to become favorite prayers.

There is a section with Latin prayers and hymns, but the English translation is not given alongside the Latin prayers as you often find in other prayer books.  I'm used to seeing the English translation next to the Latin so it struck me as a bit odd, but I suppose when the compiled the book they thought it better to not repeat prayers that were already elsewhere in the book in English.

I like the examination of conscience that is found in this book.  It is very much like the one in the Mother Love prayer book which presents questions by commandment, only in Queen of the Apostles, the examination is more modern, which I like.

The prayer book comes with a dedication page which makes it suitable for gift giving.  As I read through this book I kept thinking that it would make a great gift for someone who has just gone through RCIA since it offers not only a lot of great prayers, but also a section on Catholic beliefs and practices.  As a convert, I know I would have found a book like this immensely helpful right after I was received into the Church.  This would also be great as a Confirmation gift.

I was provided with a review copy of Queen of Apostles Prayer Book by the publisher, Pauline Books in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Pauline Books & Media to learn more about this book or to purchase a copy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Small Successes February 12th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up...

1.  I've been blogging more.  Months ago I realized that my blog was rather neglected even though I had things I wanted to write about.  But, I came up with a litany of excuses and distractions rather than actually sit down and blog.  FaceBook seems to be the blog's #1 enemy.  I log on to FaceBook and POOF! just like that I've lost a nice chunk of time.  I am seriously considering giving it up for Lent or limiting myself to using it for only 15 minutes a day, or possibly only using it to post links to new blog posts.  I haven't decided.  I'm still trying to figure out what I need to do.

2.  You can't tell it now, but I've actually written a lot of book reviews this past week.  I decided that rather than stick with my feast or famine blogging style, that the scheduler for posts could be my friend.  So for the next several weeks, there will be a book review every Monday and Wednesday.  I am hoping I can keep up with that.  I mentioned to Bryan the other day that I've noticed that I find time to read books, but then never get around to writing the review.  Again,  another indicator that I've spent too much of my precious little free time on FaceBook.

3.  I am slowly but surely working to detach myself from more material items.  I need to remove a lot of visual noise (clutter) from my home.  I came across this article [on FaceBook, of course...I really need to give it up for Lent, don't I?] recently and shared it with my husband.  It's kind of where I am with regards to the excessive amounts of things we have.   I wouldn't say I'm depressed about the copious amounts of stuff, but it does leave me feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  It's a problem and I think the messes we frequently have in the house are directly related to the copious amount of things we have.

4. Anthony has branched out to eating more solid foods.  He had been eating little bits of bread and those baby puffs for the past couple of weeks, but now he will also pick up and eat peas, hash browns, pancake, and pasta.  He really seems to enjoy eating table foods.  He acts like a crazed wild animal who hasn't seen food in days whenever we put some table food on his tray.  He goes nuts trying to get it all in his mouth.  He's such a funny baby.

5. Katie has learned several new words this week.  At long last, she now says up and down.  She came out with a few more words like baptize,  but I can't recall the rest of them at the moment.  She also learned how to fasten a snap.  And the best part about that was no one even taught her how to do it.  She learned it all by herself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Work In Progress

At Mass this morning the homily struck a chord with me and I was thinking about what Father had said on my drive home.  He talked about how each and every one of us is a work in progress.  We're all a project that won't be completed until the end. Think about that.  How often am I trying to rush to perfection only to find that I'm more like the proverbial frog in an algebra word problem who is trying to get out of a well only to fall back a few feet every time it makes some headway getting toward the top.  I frequently find that I'm annoyed with myself for not being able to grasp perfection.  That annoyance, is pride.  And I'd go further to say it's because I often feel like attaining perfection is something I should be able to do on my own.  But I can't, because it's not something I can do by myself.  It requires grace, which I cannot fashion on my own.

So on my drive home it just sort of hit me.  This work in progress that each of us is as we strive for perfection is really a lot like a fixer upper or money pit house.  When you bought the house you knew there was going to be a fair amount of work involved.  You may have even thought you could do all the repairs yourself.  And maybe, to start, you were able to do a lot of the projects on your own.  But what about when you discover that the house has some issues that aren't just cosmetic easy fixes like needing a coat of paint or a new tile floor?  You find out the house has termites or some other problem that threatens the structure of the house.  You need help; you can't do this job on your own.  So you acknowledge your limitations and call in a professional to get the job done.  It's a hit to your pride and probably your pocket because this was your project and you were the one who was going to take this fixer-upper and transform it into something perfect.

If you look at yourself as that fixer upper house, it's easy to see how our frustrations at our own imperfections is pride.  And what is that pride doing?  Is it helping you reach perfection, or is it like a collapsing foundation?  You can't fix that foundation without help and you can't fix a broken soul without help either.  We really are that broken down house, each and every one of us.  Some of us may fly towards perfection faster than others, but we can't realistically expect to become perfect on our own.  No, we need a professional, we need a Savior.

Thinking more along the lines of that fixer upper house, I like to think about how I was at the onset of this faith journey.  I can recall sitting there thinking I really didn't have any vices or any real sins.  And at some point I came to understand that I was essentially in denial. Wanting to be perfect, I was happy to stuff everything that I thought would shatter that illusion of perfection into a closet.  In short, I was ok with just lying to myself.  But I came to a point where I couldn't reconcile my perceived perfection against the words of 1 John 1:8-10.  If we say, "We are without sin," we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, "We have not sinned," we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.   Once I stopped deceiving myself, I took a look at myself, the fixer upper and realized there was some work to do.  There was more than just some minor cosmetic issues that needed attention.  There were big problems, too, like termites and structural issues.  Once the big problems were gone, I thought for a short time that I was pretty close to attaining that sought after perfection (Why hello, Pride!  What are you doing over there?).  It didn't take long for me to realize that perfection isn't something easily won.

Like that frog in the algebra problem, every time I feel like I'm getting closer to getting out of the well, I slide back.  Why?  Because just like the fixer upper house, every time I make a needed repair, another issue, which I hadn't noticed needed fixing before, crops up.  And so, looking at it like this, I came to realize that maybe I don't need to beat myself up when I take note of how far I am from perfect.  Maybe when I draw my final breath I will have come close to perfection, but until then, I will remain a work in progress and for today, I'm ok with that.

Book Review: Saint Thomas More

Pauline Kids has a great series of chapter books about the saints called Encounter the Saints.  I've had the pleasure of reviewing several of the titles from this series and I'm never disappointed in the stories.  The books are enjoyable to read whether you're a middle elementary school aged child or an adult.  The most recent title I've read in this series is Saint Thomas More.

Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated with Tudor history and St. Thomas More has always been one of those figures that I find inspiring.  In this book, Saint Thomas More is brought to life and we see him under a spotlight that you don't often encounter when reading about this period of history.

Although the story of St. Thomas More took place over 400 years ago, his story is so very relevant to Catholics today.  His courage, and convictions and refusal to back down from what he knew was right before God is a powerful message for us to recall when faced with a culture that is oftentimes add odds with Catholicism.  Given how our government has been lobbying attacks on the Catholic conscience in present times, this book is quite timely and a great source of inspiration for Catholic youth.

The book is ideal for readers in the third to eighth grade age range.  The story is well written and will keep young readers turning pages.  Throughout the book, readers will find some greyscale illustrations.  The illustrations are sprinkled throughout the book so children who feel they're beyond the point of reading books with pictures shouldn't be too off put by the illustrations.  The book contains a glossary which is helpful for words and terminology that are likely to be foreign to children who are not steeped in Tudor history, as well as other faith related terms that they might not be familiar with.

This title is certainly another great add to the Encounter the Saint series.  My eldest daughter read the book and enjoyed it and when she was done, her younger sister was waiting for her turn to read it, too.

I was provided with a review copy of Saint Thomas More by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Amazon to purchase a copy or take a peek inside this book.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: The Holy Land

A while back I received a copy of Fr. Mitch Pacwa's The Holy Land An Armchair Pilgrimage.  The book is essentially a tour of the Holy Land in pictures and commentary.  It's really a beautiful book that will leave you wanting to visit the Holy Land to see all of these amazing places in person.

Throughout the book you'll find loads of full color photographs of places and artwork found in the Holy Land.  Fr. Mitch's commentary gives the reader background on the historical significance of the place that is being visited as well as scriptural tie ins.  Throughout the book you will also find many prayers that will allow for further reflection. In short, the book is just really well done.  His experience of having led many tours of the Holy Land shines through in this book.

The book is filled with beautiful and inspiring photographs all of which tie in nicely with the text and the scriptural accounts that are presented alongside them.  I only wish that this book contained more photos.  There were several sections where I would have liked to have seen more pictures of an area that was being presented.

The book takes you on a tour by region and is separated into the follow eight sections:

  • Bethlehem and Ein Karem
  • Jerusalem Old City
  • Mount of Olives
  • East of Jerusalem
  • Mount Zion
  • North of Jerusalem
  • Western Galilee
  • The Sea of Galilee
The sections of the book are broken down into chapters, the number of which varies by region.  In all, there are thirty chapters of beautiful pictures, art, commentary, and scriptural and historical background.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.  I initially read this book over the course of several weeks last year during Lent and I felt like it offered a lot of opportunities for reflection.

I was provided with a review copy of The Holy Land by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  You can learn more about this title or purchase a copy at Amazon.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Patience, Penance and Spills

I don't think it's any secret that I struggle with patience.  Patience has really never been my strong suit.  It's something that I've really had to work at over the past several years.  Who am I kidding?  I've had to work on it pretty much all my life, but it's only been in recent years that I've been making a concerted effort to actually cultivate patience.  And my cultivation of this patience at times is about as successful as trying to grow a tomato plant in soil soaked with deck cleaner.

The weeks leading up to last Saturday were a bit on the trying side.  Homeschooling had hit that point that you often hear people talk about where everyone hits this winter slump and no one wants to do work.  I didn't feel like grading anything and when I did get around to doing it, I found myself growing impatient with the kids who took advantage of my laxity and hadn't done all of their work.  Then we all got sick (except Madeline) just before Bryan had a business trip.  By the time I successfully made it to confession last Saturday, lack of patience was topping my list.  In fact, I regarded my impatience as being enough to add the word exceedingly in front of it.  Good job, Karen, toss out those awesome modifiers!

So do you want to know what kind of penance I managed to walk myself into thanks to my love of descriptive language?  Father decided to pick out the word exceedingly and use it, too.  I think I almost fell over when he told me that my penance would be to pray to become exceedingly patient.  Now I'm not someone to ever question the priest about the penance.  I'm sure there are some who probably do, but I never have, until last Saturday.  I couldn't help but ask him if he knew what he was asking me to do.  The response was him laughing and telling me that he did.  Arrgh!  I told him that I knew that I was going to have loads of opportunities to practice patience now since I know full well what happens when you pray for patience.  You don't get the actual patience. No, no, you get opportunities to BE patient.  They are not, in fact, one in the same.

Do you know what happens when you spend several days praying to become exceedingly patient?  Let me tell you.  You get a super-sized dose of opportunities to be patient lobbed at you from all directions.  Child crying for no apparent reason? Check!  Bickering kids to set your nerves on edge?  Got it!  Dog barking as soon as the baby finally falls asleep?  Yup!  Spills?  We got 'em!

What's that about spills?  They don't require much patience, right?  Ha!  Did I mention that I mopped the floor on Saturday?  So for the first time in I don't know how long I mopped the kitchen floor.  I held my breath for the first 24 hours because that's when spills usually happen.  We made it over 48 hours before the spill happened.  Not sure how she did it, but Ellie was being nice and getting Katie a cup of apple juice and somehow she dropped a full bottle of apple juice on the floor.  She stood there in shock as the juice glugged out copious amounts of apple juice  all over the floor and under the oven.  I had to tell her to pick up the bottle before all 96 ounces ended up on the floor.  Somehow, I managed to be patient.  Crazy, right?  Cleaning up this spill was more involved than a normal spill.  The juice was in all sorts of crevices on the oven that I didn't know about prior to the spill, and it even dripped into a cabinet.  But the important thing is I stayed calm and was patient.

The next day I had a new spiller in town.  Katie was playing with her klip klop ponies and spilled apple juice all over the table, herself and a little on the floor.  I got it cleaned up quickly and was happy that none of Ellie's school books got hit.  Spill #2 conquered.  Five minutes and a new outfit for Katie later spill #3 happened.  It was a repeat of the previous one.  The blasted ponies she was playing with behind the cup led to another spill.  Deep breath. Exhale. Wipe up mess. Get a new shirt for Katie while my granola in my yogurt goes soggy.  Another hurdle cleared.

Today I realized that the first three spills were just a warm up act.  Somehow, Ellie managed to spill milk and while it wasn't a lot, she hit all of the bottom kitchen cabinets, a large area of the floor, and the oven and all it's annoying crevices, along with her hair and her shirt.  Don't ask.  I have no idea and I don't even think I want to know.

Not sure if I've ever mentioned it before or not, but I absolutely hate the smell of white milk.  I can't stand being around it unless it's in cereal.  So there I was this afternoon, wiping up splatters of white milk and thinking about that penance of praying to be exceedingly patient.  It was in that moment that I realized that this really wasn't an easy penance at all. I knew within seconds of being told what my penance was that it was going to have an element of difficulty, I just didn't realize that it was going to require so much cleaning.  As I was on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor wiping up spills for the fourth time in four days I couldn't help but wonder if Father had any idea just how far reaching this penance would go.  Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll be patient or perhaps even exceedingly patient.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Super Sharpener Begets Pointy Pencils

So about eighteen months ago I was sent a pencil sharpener to review on the blog.  And then life happened literally.  The sharpener arrived at my house at right around the same time I found out we were expecting.  The energy to blog was hardly there and the sharpener hung out on my kitchen counter reminding me daily that I need to write a review.  Then the baby was born and well, it's been a whirlwind nine months, but today is the day I write this review!

I've had a lot of pencil sharpeners over the years.  I've killed more electric sharpeners than I can remember.  I have no luck with the electric ones.  They seize up on me and some of them are just awesome at breaking the pencil points before we even get to use them.  I've had more success with manual sharpeners, but I'm not particularly fond of sharpening a dozen pencils with those little hand sharpeners.  I always end up either breaking the point or dumping shavings all over the place.  Me and sharpening pencils just don't go together.

As a kid I remember how much I loved sharpening my pencils at school using the cool wall mounted sharpeners that were in every class room.  Those sharpeners rocked!  So imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to review a sharpener that was just like those school sharpeners.

The sharpeners from classroom friendly supplies make the pointiest pencil points I've ever seen.  So sharp that if Ralphie from A Christmas Story had asked for one of these sharpeners for Christmas instead of a Red Ryder BB gun, everyone would have said "You'll poke your eye out!" instead of saying "You'll shoot your eye out!"  Seriously, if you pull the guard out all the way, this sharpener can give you the sharpest pencil you've ever seen.  It took me a few tries with this sharpener before I figured out how to sharpen a pencil so that it didn't look like the perfect eye gouging weapon.

My kids love this sharpener.  They're happy that all it takes is a couple quick cranks of the sharpener to have a perfect pencil point.  Hardly any effort is required to get a nicely sharpened pencil.

Have I mentioned that this sharpener is pretty quiet, too?  Our electric sharpener is wake the baby loud so using that sharpener isn't an option when the little ones are asleep.  This sharpener is quiet enough that there are no worries that sharpening will wake the baby.  In a classroom setting, this sharpener won't create a disturbance.

The sharpener comes with a clamp to mount it to a table top or counter.  I wasn't overly impressed with the clamp.  It always ended up popping off while we were using it.  I actually find it easier to just hold the sharpener in place when sharpening the pencils.  There is an optional permanent mount available for this sharpener, which is sold separately, but I have no experience with it.  It looks like it might be the solution to having it securely mounted to a table or counter.

Overall, I'd say this is a great sharpener if you're looking for a manual sharpener that does a great job sharpening pencils every time.

I was provided with a free pencil sharpener by Classroom Friendly Supplies in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Classroom Friendly Supplies for more information on their sharpeners.  They come in five different colors so you can find just the right sharpener to suit your homeschool or classroom.

Book Review: Building Blocks of ToB for Tots

Pauline Kids has a new series of board books for preschoolers called Theology of the Body Building Blocks for Tots.  The three books that have been recently released cover the topics of gender differences, self-respect and self-giving in a way that is simply put and easy for children aged 2-5 to understand.  Each of these board books also has a parent page that explains the way in which the story relates to Theology of the Body and how the topic at hand will ties in with laying the foundation of a particular concept whether it be self-respect, gender identity, or self-giving.
In Everybody Has a Body: God Made Boys and Girls, gender differences are explained in a way that little ones will understand.  There is an emphasis on the genders having differences that make them special.
In Every Body Is a Gift: God Made Us To Love, children learn how we use our bodies to show love for others whether it's through making things with our hands, playing games or giving hugs.  Children learn that everyone is a gift and can give of themselves to show love.
In Every Body is Smart: God Helps Me Listen and Choose children learn about how our bodies tell us things and how we have to learn how to respond to those cues properly.  Whether it's exercising self-control at Mass and practicing patience when he or she would like to run an play instead or listening to our body's signals when we're hungry, tired or hurt.

The illustrations for these stories are all cute.  The very young children in the illustrations will make it easy for preschoolers to identify with the story.

Overall, it's a cute series for laying the groundwork of Theology of the Body for small children.

I was provided with review copies of Everybody Has a Body, Every Body is a Gift and Every Body is Smart by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: Before I Sleep

Not too long ago a copy of Carol Gordon Ekster's Before I Sleep I Say Thank You arrived at my house.  The book is about a little boy who is being tucked into bed by his mom.  Instead of saying what you'd probably call standard bedtime prayers, this little boy and his mommy have a bedtime routine that is an adaptation of the St. Ignatius of Loyola's Examen prayer.  I've read through the book several times now and the more the I read it the more brilliant I think it is.

The story is really sweet and thought provoking.  From a parent perspective, I realized that I the same sort of approach I take with my own prayer life can actually be adapted for a child quite easily.  I simply had never thought to do so.  This book was an eye opener for me with regards to how I could help my younger children think about situations and resolve to make changes for the better going forward.  I also like the emphasis this book placed on showing gratitude.  I know I frequently have to remind my children that our prayers shouldn't only consist of asking God for something, but should also include praising Him and thanking Him for those blessings we have received.  A child will encounter this book from an obviously different perspective.  He or she will recognize the familiarity of a bedtime routine that probably resembles his or her own a bit, and be able to see a different way of saying bedtime prayers modeled in the story of this little boy as he gets tucked into bed.

The illustrations in this book are bright and cheerful.  The pictures aren't overly busy, but there is enough detail for little ones to discuss different aspects of the pictures.  My three year old daughter is never content to just listen to the story and glance at the pictures, she always has to look at the details and point things out that she recognizes or finds interesting.  The illustrations were done by Mary Rojas who also illustrated another book which has been a hit with my kindergarten religious ed students, Forever You.

While I've enjoyed reading this book to my three year old daughter, I am most excited about reading this book to my kindergarten religious ed class.  I feel that this book is perfectly suited to their age group and I'm hoping the story will impact them and possibly help transform their bedtime prayer routines.

I'd certainly recommend this book if you're looking to help shake up a tired bedtime prayer routine for something that will help your child have a richer prayer life.

I was provided with a review copy of Before I Sleep by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  
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