Reviews

urlSpicing up Married Life

By Father Leo Patalinghug (Leo McWatkins Films, Inc., 2012)

Excellent, easy recipes and good advice on marriage. As the potatoes are boiling, read a few paragraphs about getting along with the in-laws. Before dinner, use the grace provided three pages later. As you sit down with the family to eat the coconut curry creamed pork adobo and pan roasted red potato salad, use the nearby discussion questions to make mealtime conversation more flavorful. Keep this unique book in your kitchen.

bookSimplicity Parenting:
Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

By Kim John Payne (Ballantine Books, 2009)

Internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne says that with too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time, children can become anxious, have problems with friends and school, and can even be diagnosed with behavior problems. He offers sound advice coupled with new brain research to guide parents on how to protect their children by bringing a new rhythm to family life.

bookWhen God Winks at You

By Squire Rushnell (Nelson Books, 2006)

Here’s a book that will make a great Christmas gift or a meaningful Advent read. The author’s premise is that every time you receive what some call a coincidence or an answered prayer, it’s a direct and personal message of reassurance from God. Rushnell calls this message a “godwink.” Filled with inspirational stories of amazing coincidence, this book will make you look for—and find—the movement of God in your own life.

Where the Hell is God? 

By Richard Leonard, S.J.  (Paulist Press, 2010)

where the hell is godThe best synopsis of this book comes from the well-known Father James Martin, S.J., author of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything. He writes: “This brilliant work by a gifted priest is one of the best books you will ever read on the question of suffering—in other words, one of the best books you will ever read on the spiritual life. Wise, insightful, pastoral, original, experienced, and never settling for easy answers, Father Leonard is the compassionate guide that all of us wish we had in times of pain.”

Faith-Family-and-Children-with-Special-Needs-by-David-RizzoFaith, Family, and Children with Special Needs

By David Rizzo (Loyola Press, 2012)
A parent whose eldest son has Down syndrome reflects on her son’s disability in this way: “God gives us these children for a reason, not because he’s having a moment.” Faith, Family, and Children with Special Needs explores the spiritual growth that’s possible for parents whose children have a disability. The book acknowledges the profound challenge of having a special needs child while providing practical tips for helping the child grow in faith. Woven throughout is a movement towards understanding the bigger picture—that suffering and woundedness is part of the human condition, and forging meaning out of suffering allows us to experience God’s grace. The author is the father of four children, including an autistic daughter.

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity

by Meg Meeker, M.D. (Ballantine Books, 2010)

happy_mothers_smallPerhaps the most apt word in this title is “reclaiming.” This book starts with the premise that moms understand the factors in our life that bring us passion, purpose, and sanity, but sometimes the sheer speed of life and demands of parenting move us away from our center. The 10 habits are a reminder of why moms need to understand their value, maintain friendships, practice their faith, avoid competition, use money wisely, make time for solitude, love in a healthy way, live simply, let go of fear, and live hopefully.

In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories & Prayers

by Mother Teresa (New World Library)

No, it’s not a beach read in the usual sense of the word, but tucking this small, thin book in with your sunglasses and sunscreen will turn bits of your vacation into a retreat. Mother Teresa’s words on compassion, generosity, and sacrifice were written as reflections on the poverty she saw on the streets of Calcutta, but her insights on responding to human pain with love are applicable to any situation.

In the Silence: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration

By Vandy Brennan Nies (Liguori)

This slim book, while written as a meditation for eucharistic adoration, would be a fine companion for any type of prayer. In prayer sometimes we know exactly what we want to say to God and our words pour out from our hearts. Other times, though, we yearn for companionship with God but do not even know where to begin or what to say. Flipping to a prayer from this book gives a voice to our unspoken prayers. Written in a conversational style, the book can bring the reader quickly to a place of prayer and reflection.

My Life with the Saints

By James Martin, SJ (Loyola Press, 2006)

Finish your Lent with meaning and wit with Father Jim Martin’s memoir of how he came to a better understanding of his own relationship with God by learning about the faith and action of the saints. From his first experience—a box top order of a tiny St. Jude statue as a boy—Fr. Martin explains how his own spirituality deepened as he came to understand that responses to God are as varied as God’s people. The saints’ lives, as told in this book, make holiness more accessible to the rest of us. Martin shows us how they are not so different from us, and the result is the understanding that maybe we have the capacity to act with more love and courage than perhaps we would give ourselves credit for. This book will engage you with its humor and depth.

Waking Up to This Day

by Paula D’Arcy (Orbis Books)

This slim book emphasizes the power of being present to each moment. The premise is the belief that as we awaken to our deepest selves, we stop relating to life and to others through expectation and instead truly enter into life as it unfolds. Packed with real-life examples and thought-provoking quotes from other authors, this is an excellent choice to accompany you on your Lenten journey.

Siblings Without Rivalry

by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Avon)

This New York Times best-seller was first published in 1987, when many of today’s parents were still children themselves, but it has been updated through the years and its message is still relevant. The main take-away from the book is that parents must learn how to respond to what their children need, not simply to the words they are saying. The book’s premise is that when each child in a family feels cherished for being who they are, the need to compete with siblings will subside.

Words Kids Need to Hear

By David Staal (Zondervan)

From “I believe in you” to “No” to “I’m sorry,” David Staal shares parenting wisdom through the explanation of simple phrases that should be part of every parent’s repertoire. Through examples from his own life and those of other parents, Staal illustrates the importance of how the words of parents, used properly, can shape children and help them become who God made them to be.

The Smart Stepdad

by Ron L. Deal (Bethany House)

Leading stepfamily expert Ron Deal equips his readers to take on a heroic challenge—being a stepdad. He guides readers through the stepparenting minefield with everyday advice on how to connect with stepchildren and maintain a strong bond with their mother. Deal weaves in prayer and spirituality as integral to building a strong new family. His background as a marriage and family therapist gives him ample real-life examples to help illustrate his principles.

Growing Up Black in White

by Kevin D. Hofmann  (The Vine Appointment Publishing Company)

Readers will find Growing Up Black in White to be a moving and sometimes humorous look into the life of a biracial child adopted by a white family in racially charged Detroit in the late 1960s and early ’70s. It is author Kevin Hofmann’s strong belief that God chooses children and adoptive parents for each other, and while the journey may not always be easy, God is present in family life. Adoptive parents will find Hofmann’s insights to be a window into how their young child may be seeing the world and will glean from Hofmann the importance of making relationships with others who are the same ethnic background of their child.

I Love You Rituals

by Becky A. Bailey (Harper)

At first glance, I Love You Rituals may seem to be nothing more than a book of updated rhymes and finger play games that parents and children can do together. But amid the playfulness and fun is the strong science of brain chemistry and the phenomenon of the parent-child attachment that can be the determiner of a child’s later success in life. While Bailey’s book is a good resource for any parent, it is especially aimed at parents who have divorced or have unresolved marital issues, parents who struggle with addiction, families that have experienced death or a significant change—such as a change in home or school—and families with adopted or foster children.

The Right Touch: A Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

by Sandy Kleven (Illumination Arts)

About one in four girls and one in six boys will be victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Parents often find it difficult to decide when and how to talk to a young child about the dangers of sexual abuse. Having a picture book on hand that deals with the subject matter-of-factly can be a way to begin a discussion. The Right Touch is the story of a mother talking to her child about the difference between good and bad touches, and what a child can do in an uncomfortable situation. The advantage of a book over a “fireside chat” is that parents are given the language they need, and because of this a child will likely receive better preventive instruction than they would with a parent’s discussion alone.
The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit

by Therese J. Borchard (Center Street)

In his foreword to The Pocket Therapist, Edward Pies, M.D., editor of Psychiatric Times, has this to say: “While Ms. Borchard would be too modest to compare her work to some of the world’s great spiritual traditions, many of her deceptively simple strategies reflect a deep spiritual wisdom.”

With short, breezy chapters that take just minutes to read, Borchard, a Catholic, manages to blend a spiritual and religious approach to life with nuggets of truth she has learned through years of therapy and reading in response to her struggles with depression, alcohol abuse, and bipolar disorder. A great bedside book and a reminder that life is difficult—for everyone—and we need to actively search for the wisdom to navigate well.

Jesus from A to Z

by Kevin Graham, illustrated by Jennifer Yoswa (Windom)

From Angels to Zaccheus, this book succeeds with its quality art and straightforward explanations of stories in the New Testament. Many kids’ picture books about biblical subjects suffer from being overly cute or too pious, but Jesus From A to Z strikes the golden mean: first-rate art and brief, helpful nuggets about scenes from the life of Christ. Of the good Samaritan parable the author says, “In telling this story, Jesus showed that a neighbor is anyone from anywhere who needs your help.” The A to Z format is probably best suited to the pre-K or kindergarten set.

Mom-in-Chief: How Wisdom from the Workplace Can Save Your Family from Chaos

by Jamie Woolf  (Jossey-Bass, 2009)

If you find that you’re successful at work but struggle at home, this book will help you transfer some leadership techniques from the corporate world to the home front. With quizzes to assess both your parenting style and the culture of your family, the book takes readers through seven leadership strategies—from setting goals to leading through crisis and balancing priorities. Real-life examples illustrate how managers and parents overcome challenges. Readers with a strong sense of the place of faith and worship in family life will feel a noticeable void in the book in regard to this area—the author touches on morality, kindness, and empathy, but not the role of religion or spirituality. Despite this, the book’s unique premise makes it a strong resource for parents. (From the March 2011 issue of At Home with Our Faith)

Sex, Love and You: Making the Right Decision

by Tom and Judy Lickona with William Boudreau, M.D. (Ave Maria Press)

If you and your teen talk openly about your family’s values about premarital sex, Sex, Love and You will take up where you leave off. If, however, you feel awkward and at a loss for words when you need to have a meaningful discussion about sex, this book might be exactly what you need to start a conversation.

Filled with anecdotes of real relationships, Sex, Love and You gives compelling reasons to save sex for marriage and, with compassion and insight, explains church teachings on sexuality. The authors speak frankly about both sexually transmitted diseases and the more hidden, but just as dangerous, emotional fallout of having sex too early. This book is recommended for high school or college-age students; some information may be too explicit for a middle-school student. (From the February 2011 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life

by James Martin, S.J. (HarperOne)

It’s rare to find a book on prayer or a specific approach to life that doesn’t sound preachy or self-congratulatory, as if the author has made some important breakthrough that we can only hope to emulate. The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything hits the mark where many other books on spirituality miss. With self-deprecating humor, stories of real-life people, and instruction on the Ignatian approach, Father Martin manages to make the Jesuit tradition into a page-turner. Wry, practical, and at times transcendent, this book will start your year off right by helping you deepen your relationship with God and other people. Written for both Catholics and non-Catholics, Father Martin makes the wisdom of St. Ignatius Loyola accessible to all. (From the January 2011 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

 

Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals & Family Life

by Father Leo Patalinghug (Doubleday)

With a belief that shared meals strengthen relationships, Father Leo Patalinghug offers a thin, simply written cookbook that includes bite-sized theology. Divided into sections called “Let’s Cook” (pleasing recipes that are a step beyond the ordinary), “Let’s Listen” (suggestions for Bible passages to accompany that evening’s meal), and “Let’s Talk” (snappy questions to start discussion), the book recognizes that family meals nourish us both physically and spiritually. Father Leo gives the reader 30 occasions throughout the year to cook a special meal. Along with specific meals aimed at holidays most families already celebrate, he includes recipes, questions, and Bible passages for occasions unique to your specific family—the day of a big sports victory, the day your college student moves out, a rite of passage meal. Reflective essays, parenting tips, and cooking advice round out the book. (From the December 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children

by Doris Stickney (Pilgrim Press)

When it comes to explaining life after death, sometimes a metaphor works best. In this lovely picture book, suitable for children of any age, author Doris Stickney describes the happy, although oblivious, life of water bugs, who cannot see beyond the surface of the water and have no idea of the bigger life beyond. The reader, though, is privy to the story of the waterbug who metamorphoses into a dragonfly and experiences the great wonder of flight and life beyond the water, but has no ability to tell his water bug friends about it. The book is a beautiful resource to keep on hand and read with a child after a loss. (From the November 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

Editors’ picks for saint books for kids and their parents

Parenting Through Crisis

by Barbara Coloroso (Harper, 2000)

If you are fortunate enough not to be parenting in the midst of a crisis, you may still want to have this book at the ready. Those among us currently parenting a child through a tough time—illness, divorce, a relative’s death—will want to begin reading today. Parenting through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief, and Change acknowledges some of the most horrific events that can happen to a family, offering concrete, compassionate ideas for supporting children. At the heart of Coloroso’s approach is what she calls the TAO of Family: Time, Affection, and Optimism. A parenting educator, former Franciscan nun, and mother of three, the author’s own experiences with grief, loss, and crisis make her suggestions accessible. Coloroso refuses to tiptoe around topics such as suicide, cancer, accidents, and abuse. She guides parents to respond with wisdom and love.   (From the October 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

This Is Your Brain in Love

by Dr. Earl Henslin (Thomas Nelson)

A satisfying blend of the science of the brain, spirituality, and practical advice on maintaining love in a marriage, Dr. Earl Henslin puts his decades of work as a marriage counselor to good use in this resource for married couples. Whatever the state of your marriage, you’ll appreciate Henslin’s anecdotes of married couples, wry humor, and realistic tips. He asserts that couples need to bring their “best brain” into the marriage, suggesting how spouses can reduce anger, scattered behavior, blue moods, and anxiety in their marriage. Underlining all Henslin’s writing is a sense of the divine—he is as likely to use a quote from Henri Nouwen or St. Paul as from a well-known physician, marriage therapist, or brain researcher. Accessible and warm, this is a great before-bed book that promises to improve life both in the bedroom and outside it.  (From the September 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

Prayer First!

by Mary Kathleen Glavich, S.N.D.  (Twenty-Third, 2008)

Sister Mary Kathleen Glavich suggests that the vocation of those who work in a Catholic school is “no less than the vocation of the apostles, who were called to spread the gospels.” The book challenges the reader to deepen his or her own prayer life while providing concrete ideas for teaching children the practice of prayer. By teaching a variety of prayer forms, says Glavich, we equip children for a meaningful life. Her short, accessible chapters on teaching scripture-based prayer, meditation, centering prayer, and mantras are as useful for a parent seeking to teach a family as they are for a teacher planning to teach a class.  (From the May 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

The Power of Pause: Becoming More by Doing Less

by Terry Hershey (Loyola Press)

Don’t let the book jacket’s over-the-top promise (“Power of Pause will forever change the way you think about and live your life”) scare you away. While the book is unlikely to profoundly alter your being, it might add a bit of sanity to your week, and that’s worth something. Peppered with excellent quotes from mystics, saints, and famous writers, The Power of Pause seeks to help the reader slow down and experience life, rather than just rush from one event to another. Hershey invites the reader to find time and space in his or her life to do nothing—to pause. Through both real-life examples and parables, he explains that it is in pausing that we are able both to hear the voice of God and to be truer versions of ourselves.   (From the April 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith.)

While We Wait: Spiritual and Practical Advice for Those Trying to Adopt

By Heidi Schlumpf (ACTA, 2009)

Wherever you are in your process of waiting to adopt a child-the paperwork stage, the home study stage, or “the unexpected delay” stage-Heidi Schlumpf’s book, subtitled Spiritual and Practical Advice for Those Trying to Adopt, has something to offer.

Most adoption books fall into two categories: Either they are how-to manuals for going about the adoption process, or they tackle issues adoptive parents may face as their children grow. While We Wait fills the void. It is a book that prospective adoptive parents-especially mothers-can turn to on those difficult days, when it seems everyone around them is announcing a pregnancy or pushing a stroller. While We Wait puts into words what many waiting parents feel but are not able to articulate.

Schlumpf artfully blends honest feelings of longing with a sense of hope rooted in her Catholic faith. In her chapter “Avoiding Despair,” she writes, “One of my biggest fears about our extended waiting process is that I’ll be mired . . . in these negative emotions of sadness, frustration, and fear.” She goes on to remind herself and her readers, however, that even amid the anger and sadness, those who wait for a child must consciously look for joy. She ends with a prayer asking God to help her avoid bitterness and move toward thanksgiving. As an adoptive and foster parent myself, I found that Schlumpf’s desire to discover what God has to say during the wait resonated.

While We Wait won’t make the waiting go any faster for adoptive parents, but it does offer wisdom and empathy for the long journey of adoption. –by Annemarie Scobey     (From the January 2010 issue of  U.S. Catholic magazine.)

 

Daily Meditations (with Scripture) for Busy Parents
by Tom McGrath (ACTA)

If one of your resolutions for 2010 is to spend time each day in prayer or reflection, Daily Meditations (with Scripture) can start you off right. Tom McGrath, father of two, gives parents a daily meditation on the spiritual aspect of parenting. McGrath’s tiny stories—often only a paragraph long—are free of sap. His ability to look into his own situation and pull out an observation about faith or community inspires the reader to do the same with his or her own life. McGrath is generous with how much of himself he reveals. “I often realize that my family could use more of my attention . . . but I’d rather keep doing the Sunday crossword puzzle,” he writes. It is this honesty that keeps the reader coming back for more. –by Annemarie Scobey      (From the January 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith newsletter.)

 

Lolek: The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II
by Mary Hramiec Hoffman and Mark Hoffman (Hramiec Hoffman Publishing, 2008)

Looking for a gift that touches on an aspect of Catholicism? Lolek: The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II is a good introduction to one of the most beloved popes of the modern era. While not necessarily a book a child would choose to read independently, the selection is a good one for children ages 4 to 9, all of whom were born in the final few years of Pope John Paul’s life. Reading this book with a parent or godparent, a child will learn about the childhood and young adulthood of a pope important to the downfall of communism and respected by both Catholics and non-Catholics worldwide. –by Annemarie Scobey     (From the December 2010 issue of At Home with Our Faith newsletter.)

 

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
(Voice, 2008)

We are mothers and daughters at the same time. Kelly Corrigan’s The Middle Place (Voice) is about the author’s own experience being diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 30s with two young children. At the same time, her dad—a funny, bigger-than-life character—is also diagnosed with cancer.

Her story flips from her easily recognizable Catholic childhood in the 1970s and early ‘80s to her current struggles. Corrigan’s voice is honest, poignant, and often humorous. In this quick read, Corrigan manages to explore life and death issues without taking herself too seriously. – by Annemarie Scobey              (From the November 2009 issue of At Home with Our Faith newsletter.)

The Meal Box
by Bret Nicholaus and Tom McGrath, $9.95  (Loyola Press, 2009)

Get your mealtime conversations cookin’ with this deck of cards that promises 52 servings of fun and faith. Each of the 52 cards features a question designed to spice up conversations and get parents and kids talking. The reverse side offers a practical tip to help parents apply the general theme of the question to the family’s life of faith. While most families wouldn’t choose to use the cards at every meal, they’d be a great option for an evening when one child seems stuck on needling a sibling or the answers to all queries about school are “I don’t know.”

Sample question: “If you could open the back door to your house and step out into the perfect backyard, what would that yard be like? Be as specific as you can.”

Sample back: “Take a moment to imagine in what ways heaven will be the perfect place. Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Take one action today that will make life in our family more like your vision of heaven.” –by Annemarie Scobey            (From the September 2009 issue of At Home with Our Faith newsletter)

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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