Clare's Costly Cookie: A Young Heart Discovers the Way of Love
by Julie Kelly, illustrated by Mary MacArthur
The owner of Sacred Heart Books and Gifts recommended this book to me when I emailed her requesting recommendations for First Communion preparation and first grade catechism. I am often leery of books from new small Christian (in this case, Catholic) publishers because many of them are simply books of a weaker quality, but I was wonderfully surprised by this gem!
The twenty chapters each have at least one illustration and end with a Bible verse, which could be used for memory verses. We read one chapter each week, taking a break during Advent.
In the book, Clare speaks to Jesus after encounters with her family or parents in which she has often misbehaved. She talks about what happened, how she felt, and asks for help in understanding how Jesus wants her to behave and for the strength to follow his will. The chapters often include stories of a saint or two as well. Clare listens quietly to what Jesus says and then responds with insight and growth.
We were not preparing for First Communion this year, as our parish celebrates that sacrament in second grade and we decided to include our children in the regular program (which is excellent and includes presentations from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), but this book is more about teaching children how to pray and listen for God's response to prayer than First Communion. (In the book, Clare has already received her First Communion.)
First Daughter adored this book. It was far and away her favorite lesson time book in all of first grade. Clare's struggled are very much those of any young girl with brothers and sisters, so First Daughter understood exactly how she felt. More than a catechism, it provides an example of how a child could grow in her faith and then put that growth into action with a subsequent change in her behavior. What does it mean to live as a Christian when you are a nine-year-old American living today? This book can help a child answer that question.
I read this book aloud to First Daughter, but she could have easily read it herself (and did, once we finished it). I think this book could be particularly good for families who have just entered the Catholic church, as stories of the saints and practices like adoration are incorporated into the story. A new convert could receive an introduction while sharing a wonderful book with the family.
I purchased this book from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts (linked directly to the book above) and highly recommend the store. It's also available from third party sellers at Amazon and directly from the publisher at Nativity Press. I receive nothing if you purchase from Sacred Heart of Nativity Press and receive a small commission if you follow the link to Amazon, put something in your cart, and make a purchase.