Children’s Books Bibliography

Mary Books for Children

Visitors to this website frequently ask for materials suitable for children. Since the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute is a gathering place of all things pertaining to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the holdings include well over one thousand books for children.

The books we select and discuss here are in accord with our purpose which is to make Mary better known, better loved, and better served.

A book we recommend about Mary will place Jesus in the center of her life and mission. Beautiful, appropriate images are taken into consideration. They are important teaching tools and convey Catholic teachings based on scripture and tradition. The teaching methods, for instance, good rhyme or the way a child interacts with the media, are also factors for selection.

We debated the question: Do we review only contemporary books that you can still readily purchase? We decided to also post a few “oldies.” Some are out there as reprints. Today, libraries often provide an Interlibrary Loan service. Most of the books reviewed here can possibly be obtained that way. Here at the Marian Library, children’s books remain on the premises. Upon request, they are made available to you in our reading room. We do not lend children’s books so that they will be available treasures “from generation to generation.” However, when a book has an ISBN number, booksellers will make every effort to find it for you.

Mary's Life
Prayer Books for Children
Children Learn About Mary in Art
Activity Books
Marian Customs
Apparition Stories
Stories About Children Who Love Jesus and Mary


Mary's Life

Mary from Nazareth



By: Bruna Battistella
Translated by: Deana Basile
Pauline Books & Media, 1996
ISBN 0-8198-4772-0
Grades (4-6; 7-8 can also profit in a home-school setting)

This is a comprehensive and large book (127 pages) based on the Gospels and the Old Testament. Some fictional characters and dialog are added to make the text appealing and understandable to children. An overview of the chapter titles shows that this text is an ideal teaching tool for teachers, who wish to give a fuller teaching on Mary than normally appears in textbooks of religion.

Contents: Always in God's Thoughts, The People of the Promise, Isaiah Speaks of Mary, Mary's Parents, Mary, God's Loved One, Mary from Nazareth, Mary and the Angel, Mary Visits Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph's Bride, Mary, Jesus' Mother, Mary and the Shepherds, Jesus, the God Who Saves, The Three Wise Men Arrive, We Must Save the Baby!, Mary in Egypt, Mary in Jerusalem, Son, Why Have You Done This?, Three Hearts in One, Mary and the First Miracle, The Beginning of a Mission, Who is My Mother?, One Saturday at the Synagogue, With Jesus as Passover Approaches, At the Last Supper, With Her Dying Son, One Mother for Everyone, The Joy of Seeing Jesus Again, Mother of the Newborn Church, Mary in Heaven.

(Cataloged in thirteen U.S. libraries)


The Life of Mary



By Louis M. Savary
Illustrations by Rita Goodwill
Regina Press, 1985
ISBN 0-88271-128-8
Grades (3-6)

The author weaves the story of Mary from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. He includes Jewish customs of the time and shows Mary’s loving service of Jesus in a family context. His intention is “to show children that Mary was a very real and believable human person, like the rest of us, even though she was very special.”

The book includes an appendix containing mysteries of the rosary, prayers, list of Marian feasts, litany of Loreto, brief summaries of selected apparitions, and an act of consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

(Cataloged in ten US libraries)


Mary Mother of Jesus



By Mary Joslin
Illustrations by Alison Wisenfeld
Loyola Press, 1999
ISBN 0-8294-1380-4
Grades (2-5: a read aloud book in the younger range)

The author presents Mary's life as if Mary herself were telling the story. The text begins, "The children gather around Mary. She is an old lady whom they love dearly, for she has a kind smile as she welcomes them all. 'Mary, mother of Jesus, tell us your story,' they ask. And so she tells them the story they love to hear."

The text is based on the Gospels. Children note the sad eye and sweet smilies of the figures. Perhaps it isn't sadness, but sweet memories that make one ponder. In this text Mary is one of Jesus' followers. Mary says, "I have been with Jesus' followers ever since, doing as Jesus said. God's own Holy Spirit helps us in our task. We started in Jerusalem, and the news is spreading to all the world."

(Cataloged in twenty-seven US libraries)


Jesus Grows Up



Originally in Spanish: Hablemos de Jesus
Text and illustrations: Pilar Paris, Josep M. Mozano
and Maria Rius
English adaptation: Caryl Green
St. Anthony Messenger Press & Novalis,1997
ISBN 0-86716-331-3
Grades (K-3: a read aloud text)

Wonderfully illustrated in an informal, homey way, this book is written in a language true to the Gospel texts, yet easily understood by little ones. The story begins with the Annunciation and includes the finding of the twelve-year old in the Temple. This little book needs time! The text is only a starting point as the reader dialogs with the child about the images. These are the types of illustrations that keep on telling their story from one generation to the next. Adults will find much to ponder in children's simplicity.

(Cataloged in seventeen US libraries)


Jesus Son of Mary



By: Fulton J. Sheen
A Liguori Classic Reprint
Liguori Publications, 1995
ISBN 0-89243-783-9
Grades (3-6)

What happens when the bishop tells a story to children? If he is Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the famous orator and actor TV bishop, people remember. This book first appeared in 1947 and stayed on family bookshelves for years and years. Liguori honored the one-hundredth birthday of Bishop Sheen with this reprint.

In a time when Jesus' humanity is rightly emphasized, it is also valuable for us to keep in mind Bishop Sheen's premise: never to forget that Jesus is God. Sheen writes, "You never knew where are when or how you would be born. But Jesus did. And that is because he is God...for hundreds of years many people knew that Jesus would be born of a Mother who would be a virgin...In this world of people who are proud and who think they are terribly important cannot get used to the idea of God making himself so little..."

(Cataloged in thirteen US libraries)


The Nativity from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke



Illustrated by Ruth Sanderson
Little, Brown and Company, 1993
ISBN 0-316-77113-9 (miniature edition)
ISBN 0-316-77064-7 (hardcover)
Ages (5-Adult)

In both the manuscript and Orthodox traditions this nativity presentation is iconography at its best—a lovely blending of East and West. This is a little Gospel to take in hand again and again for prayer! It can be said that the art here IS the prayer, IS the story, IS the Word of God.

(Cataloged in three-hundred and seventy-five US libraries)


The Birthday of Jesus



By: Nadia Bonaldo
Illustrated by Carla Cortesi
Softcover/16 pages/Dimensions: 8" x 10 1/2"
ISBN: 0819811467
Ages (6-9)

A cheerfully illustrated accound of Jesus' birth. Special features: Scriptural Christmas novena complete with detachable pop-up calender. Recipient of the Catholic Press Association Book Award!

(Cataloged in three US libraries)


My Marybook



By: Sister Maryanna, O.P.
Illustrated by June Roberts
The Bruce Publishing Company
(no longer in existence), 1959
Grades (3-6)

This old treasure presents the "ideal" little Mary, the lovely and good little girl, chosen by God to be good, beautiful, and queenly. The little chapter titles are phrases of the Hail Mary prayer, and in a child's terms, explain, for example, what it means to be "full of grace," and "the Lord is with thee." Probably you will not easily find this books, unless you scour tag sales and old book dealers. If you do, it is sometimes wonderful to be confronted with beauty and "the ideal."

(Cataloged in three US libraries)


The Best Christmas Story



A Hide-Away Book
Designed by Willabel L. Tong
Illustrated by Benrei Huang
The Standard Publishing Company, 1997
ISBN 0-7847-0715-4
Ages (2-5)


Question-and-answer games remain one of the best ways for children to learn. This little thick-pages book is an ideal learning tool for the very young. Here is a sample: The window is closed. Mary is looking out through it. The question is: “Who surprised Mary with good news?” Pull out the page, the window opens, an angel appears, and the text replies, “It was an angel!” “Who listened to Mary’s exciting news?” Pull out the page, “It was Elizabeth!” And finally, “Who was the reason for all this excitement?” Pull out the page, “It was baby Jesus, God’s Son! And that’s why we celebrate Christmas!”

The delightful drawings enhance the learning experience and bring smiles. This is the type of book to bring to church for children to look at during the homily. Best yet, when the child’s book corresponds to the liturgy of the week.


A Very Special Night



By: Gill Davies
Illustrated by Gill Guile
Playne Books, Limited, 1997
ISBN 1-85854-668-0
Ages (2-4 years)

This thick-pages book has “stained-glass windows” to see through. Mary and Joseph are depicted as children, making this wonderful little book a children’s pageant. The rhyming text is a valuable teaching aid. Mary and Joseph are predominant in the background, peeking in on the important scenes. This is the type of book filled with things to point to and talk about.


The Story of Christmas



Told by Helen Ward
The Templar Company, 1994
ISBN 1-898784-40-X
Grades (2-5)

This telling of the Christmas story is based mainly on the Gospel of Matthew. It emphasizes the event through Joseph’s point of view. A rarity for children’s books, it also presents the family and birth of John the Baptizer. The fifteen strong, boldly-colored and sharply-defined designs present figures with an eastern look. The author subtly challenges with texts such as, “Only the animals saw the birth, blinking their dark eyes and nodding their heads and silently chewing. It looked almost as if they were speaking to one another. ‘He has come at last,’ they seemed to say. ‘Jesus the savior is born.’”

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Prayer Books for Children

I Meet Mary!
By: Joseph Codina
Pauline Books & Media
ISBN: 0819836834
Primary Grades


Hail Mary
Learning My Prayer Series
By Piera Paltro
Illustrated by Anna Maria Curti
Pauline Books & Media
ISBN: 0819833169
Intermediate Grades

Hail, Holy Queen
Learning My Prayer Series
By Piera Paltro
Illustrated by Anna Maria Curti
Pauline Books & Media
ISBN: 0819833657
Intermediate Grades

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Children Learn About Mary in Art

Sister Wendy's Story of Christmas

Adventures in Art series
Wendy Beckett
Prestel, 1997
ISBN 379131887X
Grades (6-8 and above)

Sister Wendy is the British expert in art that has become well-known for her teaching and art interpretation. In this book she selects twenty artists who painted the Nativity of Jesus. The artists range over an eight-hundred year period. Sister Wendy brings the paintings alive, tells the hidden stories, and introduces the student to the artist and sometimes to the artist's style and technique. Here is a sample of Sister Wendy's writing:

"People sometimes say that men prefer to leave all the housework and babycare to women, but in this picture by Master Konrad von Soest (c.1370–after 1422), painted on the wall of a church about six hundred years ago, we can see Joseph preparing supper for his family and sense his great energy. Master Konrad imagines him as an old man, so his eagerness to help with the chores is all the more impressive. He is down on his hands and knees, blowing at the fire, since there is not even a stove in this tumbledown stable. There is also a hole in the roof, which will make it harder to keep the fire going. Mary has a secret little smile as she cuddles her baby. Perhaps she knows that Joseph is not a very good cook, but she is not going to let on that she can see his difficulties. She and Jesus are both getting ready to be astonished and delighted, whatever their supper tastes like. That is what we do when we love people, we always want to make them happy. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were a totally loving family."

(Cataloged in eighty-nine libraries)

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Activity Books

My Own Nativity

Written and Illustrated by Ed Gillies
Aspen Press Ltd, 1992
Ages (4-adult)

A cassette accompanies this FoamCor nativity. The cassette includes music, narration, and instructions on how to put together the set. The book cover serves as the backdrop, and free-standing figures are punched out—all to be colored as the user likes. The FoamCor is durable and can be colored with crayons, water colors, markers, or acrylics.


The Story of Baby Jesus

Hear & Read Alice in Bibleland series
By Alice Joyce Davidson
Illustrated by Victoria Marshal
The C.R. Gibson Company, 1992
ISBN 0-8378-2837-6 GT307
Grades (2-3)

This book could be situated with the traditional Christmas storybooks. It is unique in that it is really a poem about a little girl named Alice who reads her Bible and is transported into the book where she experienced the biblical events as a firsthand spectator. Alice is in almost every picture. Unfortunately, as lovely as this set is, the loveliest of all is little Alice, not the Christ Child. Nonetheless, every little girl will want to be where Alice is.

(Cataloged in 165 libraries)


Las Posadas

A Bilingual Celebration for Christmas
For Parishes and Groups
By Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP and Marlyn Monge
Softcover / 24 pages / ISBN: 0819844950

Las Posadas, a traditional Mexican Christmas celebration, is quickly becoming a cherished custom of both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike throughout the United States. Reliving Mary and Joseph's search for shelter through the candle-lit procession and traditional songs of the Posadas powerfully inserts us into the mystery and marvel of God's birth among us. Included in this bilingual guide are: an explanation of the Posadas, directions for its celebration, lyrics and music for the Posadas song, prayers, suggestions for bilingual celebrations, and suggestions for celebration with children.


The First Christmas Pop-up Book with Light and Music

Illustrated by Fran Thatcher
Nelson Regency, A Division of Thomas Nelson, 1994(?)
ISBN 0-8407-4907-4

The solidly built paper pop-up book has punch-out paper figures of the nativity and a small twenty-page storybook written true to the Gospels in simplified language for children. When the set is ready, there is a pull-out tab that plays "Silent Night" and lights the Bethlehem star. For the littlest "builders," parents need to help with this one, especially to identify the nativity scene figures.

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Marian Customs

Las Posadas

A Bilingual Celebration for Christmas
For Parishes and Groups
By Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP and Marlyn Monge
Softcover / 24 pages / ISBN: 0819844950

Las Posadas, a traditional Mexican Christmas celebration, is quickly becoming a cherished custom of both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike throughout the United States. Reliving Mary and Joseph's search for shelter through the candle-lit procession and traditional songs of the Posadas powerfully inserts us into the mystery and marvel of God's birth among us.

Included in this bilingual guide are: an explanation of the Posadas, directions for its celebration, lyrics and music for the Posadas song, prayers, suggestions for bilingual celebrations, and suggestions for celebration with children.

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Apparition Stories

Visions of Our Lady

By Therese Lynn Johnson
Illustrations by Hector Garrido
Roman, Inc., 1995
ISBN 0-937739-26-X
Grades (6-8)

This book was not actually designed to be a children's book, but that is where it landed in the Marian Library because it easily and fluently explains Mary's better known appearances. The twelve images are actually paintings used for collector porcelain plates, also obtained through the publisher. The following apparitions are depicted and explained: Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Medjugorje, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Grace, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Poor, Our Lady of Golden Heart, Our Lady of Hope, Our Lady of Silence, Our Lady of Snows

(Cataloged in three libraries)

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Stories About Children Who Love Jesus and Mary

The True Story of the Manger

By Antonio Tarzia
Illustrations by Gino Gavioli
Translated by Edmund C. Lane, S.S.P.
Alba House, 1988
ISBN 0-8189-0541-7
(A read-aloud book for primary grades)

The story begins, "Papa, this year our manger is going to be more beautiful than ever! The stable is as big as a church and the first little lamb to arrive is just waiting for the piper to play..." The children learn the tradion of the crèche and the story of St. Francis as they build their own nativity and gather around the family table. The story flow is somewhat difficult, but truly illuminated with the drawings. Christmas customs come alive.

(Cataloged in sixteen libraries)


The Miracle of the Myrrh

By Marci Alborghetti
Illustrated by Hervé Blondon
Winslow Press, 2000
ISBN 1-890817-16-3
(All Grades)

The story begins, "After Grandpa and the children had set up the crèche, the children gathered at their grandfather's knee. "Grandpa, what ever happened to the three gifts the wisemen brought to baby Jesus?' they asked. 'We never hear about that.'" The bookseller blurb says: "When Mary gives Mendel, a young handicapped boy, the gifts presented to the baby Jesus from the three wisemen, Mendel distributes them to those in need and receives a miracle in return." An interesting aspect of the story is how Mendel goes to pray in the hut where Mary once lived because this is where he remembers her best.

(Cataloged in 139 libraries)


The Christmas Bird

Written and illustrated by Bernadette Watts
North-South Books, 1996
ISBN 1-55858-603-2

Christmas is wintertime in this beautifully illustrated book. Little Katya and her family are from the far north of times past. The shepherds tell her about the star she saw the previous evening, and about angels who announced a baby King. Katya decides to bring him her favorite toy, a wooden bird whistle. She encounters many difficulties on her way to the stable.

There are literally hundreds of children's storybooks with the theme of giving one's best and most prized to the Child Jesus. When illustrated well, as with this one, the same story never grows old. One caution, Mary and Joseph are not the object of the story. They are depicted as a very young and loving couple. On this illustration, the figures seem to represent a children's pageant and need to be interpreted that way.

(Cataloged in 308 libraries)


What If Jesus Had Not Come?

Little Lessons for Little Learners
By Patricia Richardson Mattozzi
The C.R. Gibson Company, 1994
ISBN 0-8378-8503-5
Ages (4-6)

The introdution states, "The purpose of this book is to show children that our Christmas traditions are rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ, God's only Son. The Christmas Season is a perfect time to discuss with children the blessings of our faith." In rhyme and image, the children walk through the customs of Christmas, cooking baking, Christmas trees, packages. "There would be no church for prayer, no carols we could sing...no manger with the shepherds, no worship by the kings." The story ends with a procession of children bringing gifts to baby Jesus in the crèche and a night prayer, "I thank God for sending Jesus into the world for me!"


Miracle of the Poinsettia Milagro de la Flor de Nochebuena

A Retelling by Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R. (English)
Con traduccion al espanol de Carmen Lopez-Platek
Illustrations by Dennis Rockhill
Paulist Press, 2001
ISBN 0-8091-6687-9
Grades (3-5)

The left hand pages are in Spanish, the right in English. The point of the book is to involve the children in learning about the tradition of the crèche or table scene of the Nativity. The final page of the book brings it all together. The story of little Maria's gift of the lovely weeds has long been part of Mexican and Latino tradition. The colorful and vibrant images enhance the telling. "Maria," she heard the voice again, "the baby Jesus will love whatever you give because it comes from your heart. Love is what makes any gift special." There is no full image of Mary here, but perhaps the little Maria is the true Marian image.

(Cataloged in ninety-six libraries)


The Little Drummer Boy

By Dandi
Illustrated by Tammie Speer-Lyon
Landoll, Inc., 1995
ISBN 1-56987-238-4
(For pre-schoolers)

Sometimes it is good to find an inexpensive little treasure that a pre-schooler can tout about the house and page through over and over again. This is the little book from Landoll's Classic Holiday Collection. The main thing here? Tears turn to smiles.

(Cataloged in thirty-four libraries)


The Small One

By Alex Walsh
Illustrated by Jesse Clay
Introduction by Kathie Lee Gifford
Disney Press, 1979, 1995
ISBN 0-7868-3087-5
Grades (Pre-school–3)

The little old donkey is not useful anymore. But love keeps him going. "The boy" loves him and does everything to save him until the wonderful day that Joseph buys him to serve Mary. This well-known Disney film for children in book for is also perfect for a sitting-on-the-lap moment to teach children that helping Jesus and Mary with a generous heart will never be too much of a burden.

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