Saints, Liturgy, and More
Available board books for babies and toddlers in the Orthodox Christian genre have increased greatly in the past two years. When I had the idea for “God’s Saintly Friends” there were 2 board books that godparents and friends purchased for my babies. Most feature basic Orthodox beliefs, liturgy, and saints.
My children’s favorites and ones I consider essential for your liturgy bag, godchildren’s gifts, and nursery classes are below:
We love this bedtime book by Angela Isaacs, though it’s perfectly wonderful for daytime snuggles as well. Babies will become familiar with popular saints and practice kissing them just as they will in services. Ours is worn with bite marks and a missing spine from 7+ years of reading and kissing the saints inside.
This one by Kristina Tartara is the perfect visual aid for kids and babies during the liturgical services. They will recognize items used in the service and practice learning the names of items they see in church. It’s also a nice one to have at home to talk after the service about the meaning of liturgy and when we should be doing what.
Counting and Saints
Who doesn’t like a counting book?! This lovely book about St Abigail searching for a place to worship God is great for counting with your baby. The engaging illustrations by Amandine Wanert and the story of St Abigail will be one your family reads over again.
A collaboration between Kristina Tartara and Melinda Johnson from SVS Press introduces Saint Eleazar to little ones and their adults. This one is currently my 21 month old son’s favorite book. He loves the cheerful animals throughout and I like the message of trusting in God while asking for help from others. God will give the increase! A great one to explore more about God’s saints.
Another wonderful saint story available through SVS Press and features a leaf that miraculously turns into a boat! What’s not to love about that?! This one will open opportunities to talk with your children about miracles.
Non-Orthodox Authors I love:
Catechesis Books and the Baby Believers series five colorful introductions to basics of the Christian faith. This one is especially beautiful and liturgically centered.
I am a collector of Tomie de Paola books. So when I saw the board book version of his rendition of the life of St Patrick I knew I wanted to add it to our collection of saints stories. My kids and I also did some fun crafts with the animals featured in this one (sheep and snakes).
My favorite Nativity board book, popular and easy to find. I like the rhyming introductions to all the animals present at the manger scene. It also gives a great starting place to introduce babies to the Nativity story. The only downside to this one in my opinion is the depiction of the Christ child as a fair skinned red headed baby. Joseph and Mary the Theotokos appear more accurately so I’m a bit confused by that choice. Either way this is a nice place to start.
My challenge to Orthodox children’s authors is to create more options for babies, especially for the Lenten and Nativity seasons. Saint stories are always welcome in our liturgy bag or for use in our nursery class at church. Images of the faith and those immersed in it (families venerating icons, worshipping in daily life, concepts of virtues) are needed also.