Faith & Life


How to make summertime reading an enjoyable family affair

By DOUGLAS MORINO     6/29/2015

It’s an activity that kids can rank among the worst chores summer has to offer: taking out the trash, washing the car, mowing the lawn.

Reading, however, doesn’t have to bring feelings of apprehension or dread. The lazy months of summer can be a perfect opportunity to rekindle or ignite a passion for the written word among teenagers and children.

In addition to many secular summer reading lists, Catholic education also offers lists that include spiritually themed books that can be easy and fun to read, while sharing an important message that carries values of the Catholic faith, experts say.

“Reading is one of the ways in which we learn to tell stories and the means for communicating who, what and where we are,” says Therese Brown, executive director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. “Narrative is a powerful thing. To know our faith well, young people need to read a wide variety of titles so they can see how the life of faith differs and feel comfortable finding their own narrative in their life of faith.”

Reading is likely to take center stage this fall at the World Meeting of Families, a week-long event that will be held in September in Philadelphia. The Association of Catholic Publishers is participating this year and coordinating a Catholic Publishers’ Pavilion to build greater awareness of Catholic content among an international audience. Pope Francis is scheduled to attend the World Meeting of Families, marking his first trip to the U.S. as pope.

Since the election of Francis in March 2013, the Catholic publishing world has been reenergized with new material, sources say.

“They call it the ‘Francis Effect’ for a reason,” says Sister Mary Martha Moss, director of sales and marketing for Pauline Books and Media, a publishing organization operated by a religious congregation of Catholic nuns that operate 14 book and media centers in North America. “People want to know this pope.”

With so many authors and titles to choose from, there is likely to be a book that is interesting to the entire family. Moss recommended parents choose titles children are drawn to and then talk about the readings each day.

“Pick books they like and then talk about them,” Moss says. “Dissect the values in each book.”

A good time to sit down to read is in the evenings, before television and computer screens come on or during the day in the high heat of the afternoon, Brown says.

“Like any habit, set a time and do it every day even if it is only for five minutes,” she says.

And perhaps the best way to ignite love of reading in children is for parents to pick up a book and start reading themselves, Brown says.

“Children mimic their parents,” Brown says. “If parents read, children read.”

Here are a few recommended books for summer reading: (Recommendations from Mary Martha Moss and

The Tale of Three Trees, A traditional folktale
14 pages, illustrated
A moving folk tale about three trees and their destinies.
Angela Elwell Hunt, Illustrated by Tim Jonke
Lion Children’s Books
Ages 3 and up

The Weight of Mass: A Tale of Faith
32 pages, illustrated
A tale that celebrates the power of the Mass in the Catholic faith.
Josephine Nobisso, Katalin Szegedi
Gingerbread House
Ages 5 and above

Gospel Time Trekkers
6 book set, each book is about 70 – 70 pages in length.
An illustrated series that immerses young readers in Bible times and the story of the Gospel.
Maria Grace Dateno
Pauline Books and Media
Ages 6 to 9

Jorge from Argentina: The Story of Pope Francis for Children
58 pages, illustrated
The story of Pope Francis.
Marlyn Monge, Jaymie Stuart Wolfe. Illustrated by Diana Kizlauskas
Pauline Books and Media
Ages 7 to 10

I Am David
256 pages
A powerful tale about a 12-year-old boy in an eastern European prison camp that centers on freedom and the meaning of hope.
Anne Holm
HMH Books for Young Readers
8 to 12 years

The Edge of Sadness
664 pages
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a recovering alcoholic priest focuses on themes of grace, renewal, loneliness, friendship and hope.
Edwin O’Connor
Loyola Classics
High school

Canterbury Tales
528 Pages
A glimpse into the life and mind of medieval England, Canterbury Tales is considered one of the one of the great touchstones of English literature.
Geoffrey Chaucer
Penguin Classics
High school

The Chronicles of Narnia
768 Pages
A classic work of English literature, The Chronicles of Narnia draws the reader into a land where magic meets reality and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.
C.S. Lewis