Friday, June 30, 2017

Read Aloud Saints: The Book of Saints and Heroes



by Andrew Lang and Lenora Lang

If you've enjoyed any of the color fairy books of tales collected by Andrew Lang, you have a good idea of what this book is like. This is a particularly nice hardcover edition with detailed full page pen and ink illustrations. I think there's one illustration for each saint.

First Son received this book as a gift in celebration of his First Communion. I thought it a wonderful choice, but he never read it. I decided last year to read it aloud to the children. I quickly realized it's probably not at the reading level of a typical second or third grader. The stories are long and sometimes meandering with a rich vocabulary. I rarely read an entire saint story in one sitting, instead spreading them over two or three days. While it's hard to imagine even my voracious reader ten-year-old reading these on her on, it was enjoyed mightily by all of the children from the 13-year-old down to the 6-year-old.

Some of the early stories in the book (they are mainly chronological) include fantastic tales. The authors usually admit when these are probably legends rather than actual historical facts. There were also a few bits here and there when facts are not entirely accurate only because the book is a reprint of one published in 1912. These are generally easily explained, if it's something the reader notices. I found it useful to just mention when we started that the book was a hundred years old and we've learned more about saints since then.

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