The books are richly illustrated with gorgeous photographs.
The stories are gentle and engaging, aimed at the reader between 6 and 11. Everyday events in the life of a Catholic family, such as meals, sports, and family outings, are interwoven with Catholic culture and doctrine.
For the international readers, particular facts specific to each country are explained in the appendix.
Video: Jake Schmiedicke
Music: African Skies by Stephen J. Anderson
Emily Koczela is the Director of the Very Young Catholic Project. She is a lawyer and served as Chief Financial Officer to a network of Catholic Schools. She is a lifelong Catholic, mother of six, and grandmother of fourteen (so far).
Her travels have taken her to Mass in more than a dozen countries, and the unity of faith across nations was an inspiration for this series. Her parish pastor provided a letter of bona fides for the project, and other members of the clergy have been stalwart supporters, referring her to parishes around the world. In creating the project, these words of the Eucharistic Prayer were particularly inspiring.
“You never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name”
Iceland’s northerly location means that deep winter is dark nearly all day, and deep summer is light nearly all day. The contrasting aspects come to life in this account of two energetic children, as they romp through Iceland’s remarkable landscape. They swim (in November!), fish, sled, climb trees, and splash in the thermal pools that dot the country. The older brothers and sister are loving and protective to these two mischievous youngest members of the family. All the family joins for prayer and song with their high-spirited Catholic community. A brief discussion of Professor Tolkien and his deep knowledge of the old Icelandic sagas may appeal to some readers.
A vibrant family in India shares their daily life as well as some of India’s rich heritage. Family adventures include an overnight train trip and a visit to a stone elephant. They shop at the local market, play on the beach, and recall the ministry of Saint Thomas the Apostle to India. Join them for their Thursday picnic of thanksgiving on the terrace, and enjoy their lively banter.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Galapagos every year, but a lucky twenty thousand actually live there, including the two sisters of our story. They visit the famous giant tortoises, go to the beach, and play family games. The older girl is a warm and gentle protector to her little sister, and keeps her entertained with stories. The relationship between the two is endearing, and the entire family is warm and kind. The story also includes some events in mainland Ecuador, through the eyes of another lively and wonderful family that lives in a beautiful city in the high Andes. South America is rich in Catholic traditions, and several are referenced in the book, as seen through the eyes of the children.
Three families in different parts of Kenya share their adventures and their faith. Depictions of everyday life are friendly and gentle, including jumping rope, gathering water from the river, and living on a farm on the equator. One family’s visit to a game park allows for plenty of on-site photography of Kenya’s famous wildlife. The book pays tribute to the powerful Small Christian Community structure that powers the Catholic church in Africa.
Stories from three lively young families and their friends make this book a celebration of winter life. Set in the far northwest of Canada, and running through the snowy months, the book kicks off with the ancient celebration of the Feast of Saint Martin, including a bonfire and a lantern launch. Sledding, ice hockey, and tales of the Canadian wilderness from a First Nation friend round out this book.
This portrait of a happy summer in Ireland centers around five adventurous children. Wonderful photos of adventures in the Irish countryside and visits to the beach create an irresistible tale of a life that any child would enjoy hearing about. Their farm includes cats, dogs, horses, and sheep, who all become part of the tale. Ireland’s Catholic tradition is ancient and unique, and these children are part of the latest chapter. Points of culture are included, such as an explanation of the reason for the ancient description of Ireland as the Isle of Saints and Scholars.
Fiji’s stunning beauty is the backdrop for this tale of three children from a lively Fijian family. The book opens with a picnic at the natural water slide on the river, and closes with a lovo, the traditional Fijian barbecue. Scenes from ordinary life include school, church, and sports, all set in the context of a warm and beautiful family. Our young Catholics in Fiji live precisely halfway around the earth from the young West African Catholics in our Togo book. The two books make a nice contrast, but true to the universal church, their prayers and their beliefs are the same in both places.
Once upon a time there were four little girls and they lived with their mother and father in a beautiful old city in Taiwan. That sounds like the beginning of a fairy-tale, but it is quite true. Very Young Catholics in Taiwan follows the family through their daily life and family adventures. The richly-colored photography is instantly engaging, and their story of faith is an inspiration.
Advent and Christmas are holy seasons everywhere, but the Catholic children of Austria have an especially rich set of traditions to draw on. Very Young Catholics in Austria begins in Advent and follows a young family through Christmas and Epiphany. We see the children creating tiny cookie houses, attending the traditional Advent Mass at dawn, enjoying news from friends in the snow-covered Alps, and reading the Christmas story from St. Luke’s Gospel. Other adventures include a visit to the traditional Christmas market in their small town, and a spin on the ice-skating rink at the Vienna City Hall. Throughout all of their adventures runs the thread of their strong faith and the joy of Christ’s birth.
Very Young Catholics in Togo is set in a small West African farming village, along a river. The beautiful landscape and rich vegetation form a vibrant background to daily events. The children’s lives revolve around family, friends, and school, like children everywhere. Mass is celebrated at the lovely village church, which serves several surrounding villages as well. Singing and dancing are the order of the day, as the villages gather to pray.
Filled with family adventures, beautiful photography, and gentle humor, Very Young Catholics in the United States draws an appealing portrait of the life of a Catholic child in the United States. This is the first book of the Very Young Catholic series. Each book introduces the young reader to Catholic children in a new country, and the full series circles the globe. All of the children say the same prayers at Mass and share the same beliefs, but they live in widely varying locations and cultures.
Also available in Spanish!