As a previous Montessori teacher, I knew that children under 6 years of age ABSORB whatever enters their senses without a filter and – good or bad – it will form their character.
I learnt that young children who loved a fiction story would ask for it to be read to them over and over again and that it became a part of them – that’s how powerful stories are!
Even as adults, I am sure that you have read stories that have haunted you….so that even days after you have read it – you are still thinking about it.
As a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, I am privileged to have been in touch with Catholic writers and the wonderful fictional stories that they write. They weave themes of the Catholic faith into stories in the hope that children will be moved by them and keep the faith. It’s so wonderful that the Guild exists.
Before I wrote ‘A Prayer from the Heart’ and then met members of the Catholic Writer’s Guild, I had no idea how powerful Catholic fiction could be!
Back in 2015, when I read the first draft of my story out loud to myself, I discovered, that without trying, I had written a story that was evangelical. By this I mean that it could show children how to have a relationship with Jesus. ‘A Prayer from the Heart’ also showed that God was taking care of the characters in the story every single second of the day! I had written a story that could help children see that God was interested in them! God had been written into the nooks and crannies of my story-and that alone could touch a child’s soul. I realised that there was something ‘kind of powerful’ in my story! What ‘kind of powerful’ am I talking about? Holy Spirit ‘kind of powerful’!
I have always had a problem with how the Catholic church forms our children. They go through the process of preparation for First Confession and First Holy Communion and then there is no real spiritual formation till Confirmation. Gaping holes…. And then after Confirmation…nothing.
It is a Catholic parent’s prerogative to educate their children – so really, it’s down to them. However, in this day and age where parents are not strong in the faith – having left it as adolescents and then returned only to get married- the soil they offer their children is sadly not fertile enough to help young seedlings put down roots.
What if there were a plethora of stories from 5 months – 18 years oozing with the love of God and Catholic themes woven through them…what would that do? Well, there are…and they are turning young hearts around. Before you roll your eyes and say …yeah, right, these will be preachy books …they actually aren’t.
What they do is to provide a great fiction story as a background and which will show the reader how much they are loved by God. This may be more explicit in some stories or more hidden in others.
Take this novel by Carolyn Astfalk. Carolyn is the current President of the Catholic Writers Guild (‘22) and she writes contemporary Catholic romance for teens. This is a story where love knows no bounds-even across different faiths. Can Fr. John help the couple bridge their differences or will something else intervene and pull them apart?
Link to Carolyn Astfalk’s novel here
Another example is ‘Angel in the Waters’ by Catholic author Regina Doman is a fiction story about conversations between an unborn baby and his/her guardian angel.. The angel is preparing the baby for life outside the womb! This book will attract kids 5 months-6 years of age. Though it is not explicitly Catholic, the themes of life of the unborn and the provision of God are implicit. See link here
‘Baby Come to Church’ by Catholic author Virginia Esquinaldo is more explicit and is a ‘snapshot’ of a baby spending an hour at mass. See the link here
There are so many more out… I will be doing blogposts for young children with links so look out for them!