Your students can enjoy the fun of a book fair — and strengthen their faith, too.
By Lori Ann Watson
If the last time you picked up a secular book club flyer you saw at least one book that made you hope your students wouldn’t “buy in,” maybe it’s time to consider some Catholic options.
Ok, this is where I come clean. I’m slightly fanatical when it comes to children’s literature. There are more books than kitchen utensils in my house, I’m a huge fan of Sarah Mackenzie’s Read-Aloud Revival, and I’m firmly convinced most of the world’s problems would be solved if we all just sat reading together more.
But it has to be the right kind of book. So much of what’s out there today drags kids down instead of lifting them up. Modern secular literature often introduces children — even very young ones — to heavy, dark issues, and it doesn’t present them in ways that teach those children to follow their faith. Catholicism is not only a religion; it’s a guide to a good life. And the authors and publishers of today’s secular writing for children so often just can’t see it.
Thank goodness there is a movement — a quickly growing trend — toward engaging, good, and clean Catholic children’s books, set in modern times, with modern children’s problems and issues, dealt with in ways that uphold the Faith.
One option that will introduce your students to some of the best in faithful literature is swapping your school’s secular book fair out for a Catholic one.
Author Lizette Lantigua is a great ally in this movement. Seeing the need for more Catholic fairs, she started Good News! Book Fair in 2015. Since then, she’s seen remarkable growth in the movement to promote uplifting Catholic literature for children.
Good News carries a wide variety of faithful, engaging literature, ranging from books for the very young (such as Jesus and His Brothers, an I Can Read book) through tween choices such as Clash (coauthored by “Soul Surfer” Bethany Hamilton), right up through selections for junior high and beyond (Raymond Arroyo’s Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls is a bestseller for the older set).
Good News also sells T-shirts and posters with inspirational messages, as well as holy reminders. Their top seller in this category is the Comfort Cross, a carved wooden cross made of olive wood from the Holy Land designed to be soothing and comforting when held in the palm of the hand.
Lizette is clear about her mission. When asked about the benefits a Catholic book fair can provide, she had this to say:
“Teachers and principals from all over the country have reached out to us searching for an alternative to secular book fairs. They want their students to develop both academically and spiritually. We are here to fill that need! We sell books that are true to our Catholic faith and values.”
If you’d like to reach Lizette to schedule a fair or request more information, you can reach out to her at GoodNewsBookFair.com.
The Daughters of St. Paul, who operate the Catholic publishing company Pauline Books and Media, are on a similar mission when it comes to reaching souls through good literature. Sister Maria Kim talked with us about Pauline’s book fair, JClub, and reminded us that the Sisters run this book fair with an important goal in mind:
“We strive to present all our stories through the lens of faith; it’s the essential element that will help children navigate all of life’s situations.”
When asked which JClub Book Fair books students like the most, Sister said that children gravitate to books about guardian angels or the Blessed Mother, as well as Pauline’s series of graphic novels based on the lives of the saints. (Who could pass up a title like St. Teresa of Avila: God’s Troublemaker?)
Students also enjoy the Encounter the Saints series, which sets saints’ lives in engaging novel form. As Sister put it, “We strongly believe in offering the joy of the Gospel in a compelling way to the audience — everyone loves a good story.”
In addition to Pauline’s own works, JClub offers books from other publishers, including Harper Collins and Thomas Nelson. All selections included in the fairs are carefully screened by the Sisters to ensure Catholicity.
To learn more about JClub Book Fairs, just log onto the JClub home page and click on the green “New to JClub” button.
If the last time you picked up a secular book club flyer you saw at least one book that made you hope your students wouldn’t “buy in,” maybe it’s time to consider some Catholic options. With the help of organizations committed to providing children with quality literature, your students can enjoy the fun of a book fair — and strengthen their faith, too.
Lori Ann Watson teaches, homeschools, blogs about Catholicism, and almost never gets caught up on laundry. She writes from North Central Florida.