WASHINGTON - The following books are suitable for Christmas giving:
"All Shall Be Well: A Spiritual Journal for Hope and Encouragement" by Hilda St. Clair. Paraclete Press (Brewster, Massachusetts, 2016). 120 pp., $15.99.
Teenage readers and adults alike will find calm, inspired creativity and peaceful contemplation with this beautifully illustrated journal. Sixty quotes illuminated with bright watercolor are accompanied with activities to help focus the day on God. Hopeful and encouraging, the journal is a reprieve from a loud and hectic world. Ages 13 and up
"Page-A-Day Children's Bible" by Rhona Davies, illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2016). 381 pp., $21.95.
The Bible has been rewritten time and again for younger audiences. And although the market is flooded with token children's Bibles, this one stands out for its practicality and simplicity. It is a reasonable way to introduce a child to daily Scripture reading with a page a day, and this Bible's pretty illustrations and well-written passages will make the time spent reading valuable and enjoyable. Ages 8-10
"Mother Teresa of Kolkata: Saint Among the Poor" by Didier Chardez. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2016). 66 pp., $12.95.
Inspired by real-life anecdotes told by one of St. Teresa's travel companions, Msgr. Leo Maasburg, this graphic novel tells the story of the modern-day saint from her childhood days throughout her adult ministry. Sometimes humorous, the colorful graphic novel gives a very personal side to the newly canonized saint. "Mother Teresa: The Smile of Calcutta" and "Mother Teresa of Calcutta" by Francine Bay and illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudeeson, both published by Magnificat, as well as Liguori's "Mother Teresa: A Life of Love" by John and Marieta Monette are three more books that would make nice additions to complete a collection. Ages 6-10
"Jesus Speaks to Me About Confession" by Angela M. Burrin, illustrated by Maria Cristina Lo Cascio. The Word Among Us Press (Frederick, Maryland, 2016). 45 pp., $13.95.
Not too long after the celebration of Christmas, children start to seriously prepare for their first confession, a sometimes intimidating event for a young Catholic. In this illustrated keepsake book, Jesus is the narrator. He gently talks directly to the young reader, explaining the origins, steps and gift of the sacrament of reconciliation. The book also includes prayers, such as a prayer to the Holy Spirit, an act of contrition and an examination of conscience for children. Ages 7-9
"The Shadow of His Wings: A Graphic Biography of Father Gereon Goldmann" by Max Temescu. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2016). 128 pp., $14.95.
From a young age, German Father Gereon Goldmann wanted to be nothing more than a missionary priest. But the world in which he lived would not allow it. Drafted into the Nazi army while a seminarian, he had to put his studies on hold while he faced intense fighting — for souls. He ministered to Catholic soldiers and tried to bring Jesus' love to hardened men and innocent civilians. Even after the war was over, Father Goldmann was wrongly imprisoned for being a "Nazi priest." His story, told here as a graphic novel with a biographical epilogue and photographs, is remarkable and inspirational. Be warned, reflective of the violence and horror of the war, several illustrations in this book graphically show guns, knives and violence. Ages 10-13
"32 Days: A Story of Faith and Courage" by Ellen Lucey Prozeller. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2016). 116 pp., $9.95.
Inspired by an anecdote shared by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, this book is a poignant story about a young Chinese girl martyred for her devotion to Jesus. Although the facts surrounding her life, even her real name, are unclear, her story of faith amid persecution under communist China will leave a memorable and inspirational impression. A wonderfully written book, this will surely touch the lives of many readers. Ages 9-11
"Spider's Gift: A Christmas Story" by Geraldine Ann Marshall, illustrated by Rebecca Sorge. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2016). 40 pp., $14.95.
This is a fictional Christmas tale with a message reminding young children that all creation, no matter how small, has a gift to share. Wanting to honor the Holy Family like his friends the honey bee and cricket, a spider uses his gleaming web to protect baby Jesus from Herod's soldiers. "A Spider's Gift" is nice alternative to the secular Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph stories. Ages 4-6
"A Missal for Toddlers" illustrated by Elen Lescoat. Magnificat (New York, 2016). 22 pp., $10.99.
A board book built strong for little fingers, "A Missal for Toddlers" explains the mystery of the Mass with simple language and colorful images. The Mass is seen through the eyes of a young boy who tries to sit nicely and quietly while his mother, father and sister participate in the Mass. Ages 3 and up
"The Christmas Star" by Maite Roche. Magnificat (New York, 2016). 12 pp., $6.99.
Short, sweet and sturdy, "The Christmas Star" explains in the simplest way the story of the Magi. A perfect gift for Little Christmas, the feast of the Epiphany, this introductory book is illustrated with vivid pinks, teals and turquoise. Also illustrated by Roche is Magnificat's "A Gospel Advent Calendar." The doors of the Advent calendar open up within the backdrop of a magnificently detailed Bethlehem countryside. A companion booklet with a short Bible verse, meditation and picture to color in accompanies each day of calendar, which includes the feast of the Holy Family and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Ages 2 and up
Lordan, a mother of three, has master's degrees in education and political science and is a former assistant international editor of Catholic News Service.