The following books are suitable for summer reading:
“Carlo Acutis: God’s Computer Genius” by Ellen Labrecque, illustrated by Dan Wegendt. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2021). 63 pages, $21.95.
Carlo Acutis is one of the only teenagers on the path to sainthood. Born in 1991, Acutis lived his short life focusing his interests and talents on the work of God. A quietly holy young man, he didn’t boast about his faith and service to the poor in his hometown of Milan, Italy. Instead, he was a humble evangelizer by his example of a cheerfully steady student who played football and saxophone.
He also loved video games and had an interest in Steve Jobs and computers. When he fell ill with leukemia, he was in the process of becoming a priest, or a computer scientist, or more than likely a programmer priest. This book is written not only as a biography of Acutis, but also as a guide for readers on how to live a normal Jesus-centered life.
Loaded with sidebars on geography and the sacraments, “Carlo Acutis: God’s Computer Genius” also includes graphics, photographs and illustrations. Acutis is an excellent model for Catholic youth. As his mother said, “Carlo was the light-hearted answer to the dark side of the web.” 9-13 years old.
“God’s Superheroes: Incredible Catholic Women” by Mary Bajda, illustrated by Melinda Steffen. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2022). 168 pages, $16.95.
“God’s Superheroes” shares the stories of 36 women who have transformed their normal lives into amazing examples of service, faith and love for Jesus. Included are brightly colored illustrations and engaging descriptions covering a wide range of remarkable women, from Saint Kateri Tekakwitha to Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, who is on her way to sainthood.
Also from author Mary Bajda and illustrator Melinda Steffen, “God’s Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Men” includes the incredible stories of 36 men who made normal amazing with their devotion to God. 9-13 years old.
“Maria von Trapp and Her Musical Family” by Cheri Blomquist. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2021). 285 pages, $12.95.
Many know and appreciate the story of the von Trapp family and their beloved teacher-turned-mother-in-law, Maria. Made famous by “The Sound of Music”, Maria has her own story before, during and after her reluctant marriage to the widowed Austrian father of her relatives. Beyond her crucial vocation choice, Maria faced many other challenges, but always trusted God to guide her.
This captivating book, based on memoirs and autobiographies, will allow readers to escape into another side of the history of the legendary von Trapp family. A true story of adventure rooted in faith, it’s a refreshing break from many books aimed at tween and teen readers. 11 years and over.
“What Angels See” by Matthew Kilmurry, illustrated by Tammie Lyon. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2021). 31 pages, $14.95.
Young Sara Quinn is fascinated by her guardian angel. As she prepares for her First Holy Communion, she discovers that God has given her a unique gift: she can not only see her guardian angel, she can also see what her angel sees too.
Around her, the guardian angels of her classmates watch over her friends. His church shines with a welcoming light and the Eucharist is dazzling with the true presence of Jesus. “What Angels See” is a sweet book for children who love their guardian angels and especially for those preparing for their first communion. 7-10 years old.
“Light of the Saints” by Cory Heimann, illustrated by Tricia Dugat. Sympathetic Art (Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2021). 54 pages, $18.99.
Grab a flashlight and get ready to read one of the most unique collections of holy books. Written with simple text and illustrated with intention, “Light of the Saints” will capture attention and delight young readers with a dark surprise.
A perfect summer read for campfires and summer nights, the book includes short rhyming descriptions of lesser-known saints, such as St. Anna Wang of China, as well as famous favorites like St. Gianna Molla. 5 years and over.
“10 Hidden Heroes” by Mark K. Shriver, illustrated by Laura Watson. Loyola Press (Chicago, 2021). 23 pages, $14.99.
Counting books are great tools for teaching math and literacy. Research and discovery books improve early academic skills, concentration and fine motor skills. In “10 Hidden Heroes”, readers are tasked with searching, finding, counting and identifying everyday heroes and helpers hidden in bright and colorful full-page illustrations.
Written by Mark Shriver, New York Times bestselling author and director of strategy at Save the Children, this book comes to life with its moving images of Laura Watson. “10 Hidden Heroes” received a Christopher Award for 2022, given to media outlets that represent “the highest values of the human spirit.” 3-10 years old.
“Champion of the Poor: Father Joe Walijewski” by Philip Kosloski, illustrated by Michael LaVoy. Travel comics. (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, 2021). 30 pages, $6.99.
This is the story, told in vibrant and brilliant comic imagery, of Father Joe Walijewski, priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Perhaps little known to many, her story deserves to be told and shared with young readers. Once rejected from the priesthood due to poor grades, he eventually became an adventurous missionary and the beloved founder of the Casa Hogar orphanage in Peru.
Fortunately, whether this short comic is a hit or misses the mark, Voyage Comics has plenty of other comic book tales, spanning from the whimsical tales of a crime-fighting hero to the brave adventures of Saint Joan of Arc. 8-15 years old.
Lordan, a mother of three, has a master’s degree in education and political science and is a former assistant international editor for Catholic News Service. She currently teaches and is a court-appointed advocate for foster children.