Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: We and Our Children

A few years ago I had read Mary Reed Newland's The Year and Our Children and I was very impressed and inspired by the book.  It left me wanting to read more by her, but I was dismayed by the lackluster consumer review on another book authored by her because it was a "severely edited" version of the book.  I don't know about you, but I prefer to read a book in it's entirety because I find that it's very easy to distort the author's meaning when you go in and start changing things up in the name of updating.  The editing, as I understand it, was to update it to be in alignment with the ordinary form of the Mass.  When it was written, what we now know as the extraordinary form was the norm.  So some people might be bothered by a book that references the traditional Latin Mass, but honestly I don't see why one would be.  Not knowing what else might have been edited out or updated, I passed on reading the newer version of the book.  When it comes to books I like them unabridged and original, or not at all.

By pure happenstance it came to my attention that the book I had very much wanted to read but had passed on because I wanted to read what the author actually wrote and not what an editor thought was relevant was now available as a reprint of the original work from Angelico Press.  I am thrilled that I finally had the chance to read Mary Reed Newland's We and Our Children:How to Make a Catholic Home.  This book was originally published back in 1954 and I have to say that while there are a few things here and there that are dated, this book is just as relevant to creating a Catholic culture and raising Catholic children now as I'm sure it must have been back then.  The book is packed with sage advice and parenting wisdom that is very much needed and often lacking in today's society.

As a convert to Catholicism, I can tell you that there are times when you can feel a bit lost and out of your element when it comes to navigating just how you go about parenting Catholic children so they will understand, appreciate and love their Catholic faith.  If you never take a child outside to explore the beautiful big wide world, they won't come to appreciate it.  It's the same with our Catholic faith.  If you don't give your child opportunities to experience the richness of our faith, they won't understand it or appreciate it and even worse, they might not practice it as adults.   Faith is something that needs to be cultivated and nurtured.  If you find yourself unsure of just how to do that with your children then you might want to grab a copy of We and Our Children and set out to planting seeds of faith in your child's life.  Mrs. Newland offers sound advice and good suggestions for transforming your home into a Catholic home (or as some would call it: the domestic church).

We and Our Childrenis a twenty chapter book that addresses just about every topic that keeps parents awake at night.  Sure you're not going to find anything in this book about today's digital age with it's social media, internet, and texting, but the wisdom found in this book about supervising the types of television, radio programs and music your child is exposed to is pretty much the same as what you would need to apply to today's world.  Just as a mother back in the 50s would have been concerned about what media her child was exposed to, we should also be concerned about what our children are ingesting from our present, often, toxic culture.   So in some cases, you'll have to draw some parallels between now and then to get the most out of Mrs. Newland's gem of a book.

For the life of me, I'm not sure why previous reprints of this book under different titles would have edited out the author's description of the Mass.  While it's true that there were plenty of changes made after Vatican II, there is still a lot in Mrs. Newland's description of the Holy Mass that is relevant to today's ordinary form.  Again, you'll just have to take some time to draw the parallels.  Of course, if your family attends Mass in the extraordinary form you everything in her description of the Mass will make perfect sense.

Now this book is essentially a parenting book, but unlike most parenting books, Mrs. Newland's advice is not preachy and she doesn't take the stance that her way is the only way to do things.  The book reads like a fellow mom sitting down with you for coffee and discussing a variety of parenting issues as they relate to our Catholic faith.

Overall, I found this book to be very well done.  I think it belongs on the bookshelf of every Catholic mother who is serious about creating a Catholic culture in their house with the intent of raising well formed Catholic children.

I was provided with a review copy of We and Our Childrenby the publisher, Angelico Press, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit to take a peek insideor to purchase a copy of this book for yourself.


  1. Thank you, Karen, for such an apt review. You addressed concerns one might have with a reprint parenting book ("too old fashioned") with acknowledging the timelessness of creating Catholic culture in a home. We love the joyful simplicity, yet straightforward encouragement, of Mary Reed Newland's words, and think more people should sit down and have a cup of coffee "with" her.

    Thank you for your vocation and witness to the gift of motherhood and family!

  2. This is welcome news. I have been wanting to read this book for ages, but had read the same review you did, that said they edited out so much about the old Mass. Since that's the Mass we attend, I knew I didn't want an edited copy. I've been trying to keep an eye out for an affordable old edition for this very reason!! So you are sure that this version is actually an unabridged reprint? That would make me so happy!

    On a related note, I am currently reading The Year and Our Children, and it's fantastic!

    1. Hi Christine,
      The book is really and truly and unabridged reprint. I think you'll really enjoy this book. And while we attend the NO Mass, I still found so much of what is in this book to be relevant. The way I look at it with these older pre-Vatican II books is you can find plenty that is relevant. In fact, I prefer the older books because I feel they treat the faith with more reverence.


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