Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Catholic Company Review: Celebrating Saints and Seasons

Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children by Jeanne Hunt

I was so excited to review this book for The Catholic Company!

For each month of the year (with Lent in March and Advent in December), Ms. Hunt provides a list of feast days and holidays with suggestions for ways to make the day meaningful for children of various ages. Activities are marked for either school or home, though a great many of them are appropriate for both.

Ms. Hunt begins each month with descriptions and ideas of the major holidays (like Lent, Advent, Thanksgiving). Then she has a section for "Saints and Heroes" which includes feast days for particular saints or angels and also notable historical figures (mainly American). Finally, the month ends with a section for prayers or prayer services.

I started with December and Advent and found quite a few good ideas I hadn't seen in quite the same way. I especially liked the suggestions for family activities to help slow the season down and spend time with each other or helping our neighbors. Most of these were activities that would involve a significant portion of the day and would be better with older children, but I think we'll try to incorporate something like this in our Advent plans for next year.

I found some new ideas in every month, especially for holidays that aren't feast days like Kwanzaa and the Festival of Tachiu. I'm not interested in celebrating these holidays in big ways, but I think it's would be nice to talk about them with the kids.

I also liked the chapter at the end on special occasions which included some ideas for family vacations. I think it would have been nice to include a celebration for the anniversary of baptisms there. It's something new our family has started this school year and I think it's a wonderful.

This book probably wouldn't work as a complete resource. For many saints' feast days, for example, Ms. Hunt writes a sentence or two about the saint and then suggests an activity (many of which are good ideas), but if you really want to share the story of the saint with children, you'd want more information. With a good library and a decent search engine, it's not really a problem. A detailed history for each saint would bog the book down considerably.

I think it's odd that the prayers for each month come at the end of the chapter. I felt like they should appear with the appropriate holiday or feast day. Also, some of the prayers were for feast days not mentioned earlier so it wasn't really clear why celebrating the feast was worthwhile. Frankly, I found many of the prayers a bit hokey. I can't imagine saying most of them with my children, let alone Kansas Dad or a teacher in a classroom. (Just to be clear, some of the activities are also a little hokey, though in my experience sometimes children enjoy those the most;  you just have to know your family or your classroom.)

Overall, I think this is a good addition to our liturgical year library. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as the only book in a liturgical library, but I could never have just one myself anyway.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I did not receive any compensation for this review other than a copy of the book. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Celebrating Saints and Seasons . They are also a great source for first communion gifts and baptism gifts.

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