Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: The Young People's Book of Saints

Over the past two weeks I've been reading The Young People's Book of Saints.  I chose to review this book because I thought it would be something my girls would enjoy and I was hoping it might also be of some use in the religious education classes that I teach in our parish.  The book tells the story of sixty-three saints.  The story of each saint is covered in a chapter that averages about 4 pages in length.  Each saint story is accompanied with a black and white illustration that pertains to the story.

I think the book has great potential as a bedtime story book for younger children.  This book will allow young children to know the saints.  Because the stories are relatively short, I doubt the little ones will tire of the story before it's over.  My daughter who is nearly nine has picked up this book to learn about the saints featured in this book and she enjoyed the stories.  One of her first questions to me after reading about St. Helen was to find out if there was a book where could learn more about her.  So while you aren't going to get a comprehensive saint biography in this book, your child may be inspired to learn more about his or her favorite saints.

While reading through the book I came to the conclusion that the intended audience of this book is not American children, but rather those living in the United Kingdom.  Frequently there are references made by the author to events in British history that he assumes the children are familiar with from their history lessons at school.  I'm a bit of a history buff and I found myself in the dark several times with some of the references that were made.  I think in light of the rich story telling contained in the book it's only a minor distraction, but one I certainly noticed.

This book is an ARKive Edition which means it's an exact reproduction of the book as it was published in 1960.  Bearing that in mind, the reader should not be too surprised when he or she sees the followers of Islam referred to as Mohammedans.  I had never heard that term before and I found it a bit interesting to learn that followers of Islam weren't always referred to as Islamic.

The book has its quirks that I mentioned already, but over all I think it's book worth having in any home with Catholic children.  It may not be the most comprehensive book of saints (some very notable saints, such as St. Augustine are not featured) but the story telling in this book makes up for anything that it lacks.

Sophia Institute Press provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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