by Amy Welborn with illustrations by Ansgar Holmberg, C.S.J.
I received this book from another member of PaperBackSwap.com last summer, just in time to use it last year for First Daughter's saint readings. Mater Amabilis recommends Little Book of Saints Volume 1 and Little Book of Saints Volume 2 at the Prep level, but we had already read these with her. At the next level (1B for first grade), Mater Amabilis recommends Once upon a Time Saints and More Once Upon a Time Saints, but we had been reading these with our history studies, Connecting with History. (I've reviewed them here.) So I was looking for something else and was thrilled to receive this book.
I love how Amy Welborn presents the stories in this book. They are grouped together under a common theme (like "Saints are people who love children," "Saints are people who create," and "Saints are people who teach us new ways to pray"). She introduces each saint just as I might if I were telling a story, rather than reading one aloud, talking first about the lives of children and how this particular saint has a connection with their own lives.
For most kindergarten students (and even first grade), the stories are probably too long. First Daughter loves to listen and narrate, though, so I knew the length would be acceptable. (Second Daughter will be starting kindergarten this fall and we'll be using My First Book of Saints, which is a combination of all the Little Books mentioned above. She would never sit and listen to the stories in this book.)
Of greater concern for young students is the content of the stories. First Daughter began this book in kindergarten. There are enough stories that we'll continue this book through the end of first grade. I decided to skip the stories in part 12 ("Saints are people who are brave.") and part 15 ("Saints are people who come from all over the world."). In both of these sections, all or nearly all of the selected saints are martyrs for the faith. The author does a good job of presenting the stories without excessive violence, but the suffering week after week seemed inappropriate for my little girl. There are other stories of martyrs in other parts, but I thought First Daughter would be alright listening to them. My son, who was in third grade this year, could read these stories next year and I would not be overly concerned.