The Ultimate 2018 Lenten Book List for Families


I love the idea of having a family Lenten practice.  For several years, we have chosen to spend 30 minutes of each day reading spiritual works.  As we are a large and busy family of various ages and reading abilities, it works best for our family to have individual materials to read during our 30-minute devotion.  I spend several weeks prior to Ash Wednesday searching for just the right books for each member of our family.  I’ve seen some wonderful fruits from this Lenten practice: we all relish the half hour of quiet in a typically noisy home; I’ve noticed many of my children will pick up spiritual reading on their own outside of Lent, and even my most reluctant readers are reading and enjoying it.

As our Lenten library has grown, I wanted to share age-appropriate titles which our family has enjoyed. Many selections are strictly spiritual books; some are historical; others are historical fiction, and still, others are fictional works which impart a Christian message appropriate for Lent. Hopefully, every type of reader will find something that will inspire them to grow in holiness.

Preschool to Early Elementary

For our preschool and early elementary children, I spend 15 to 30 minutes reading out loud to them depending on their attention span and then I set aside 30 minutes later in the day to do my own reading. Our youngest, who is now seven, has absolutely loved The Catholic Treasure Box Sets edited by the Maryknoll Sisters.  We return each year to this series of 20 sweetly illustrated books originally published in the 1950s.

Other titles he has enjoyed are:

Take It to the Queen by Josephine Nobisso and illustrated by Katalin Szegedi

The Weight of a Mass by Josephine Nobisso and illustrated by Katalin Szegedi

Francis Woke Up Early by Josephine Nobisso and illustrated by Maureen Hyde

Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Christopher the Holy Giant by Tomie dePaola

Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

Mary, Mother of Jesus by Tomie dePaola

Francis the Poor Man of Assisi by Tomie dePaola

The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie dePaola

Roses in the Snow: A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary by Dessi Jackson and illustrated by Lydia Grace Kadar-Kallen

Elementary Independent Readers

Last year we discovered Arnold Ytreeide’s Lenten offering Amon’s Adventure: A Family Story for Easter.  I read a chapter every other day to our 6 and 10-year-olds. They were absolutely riveted by the historical fictional account of a Hebrew boy living in Jerusalem in the days leading up to the crucifixion of our Lord.  This book is rather intense and may not be appropriate for more sensitive children.

Other choices for this age group are:

Saints for Girls from Aquinas Kids

Saints for Boys from Aquinas Kids

Encounter the Saints series from Pauline Books and Media (There are 36 books in this series)

Vision Books of the Saints by various authors

The Children’s Illustrated Bible from DK (or any good children’s bible)

Middle School/Junior High

Our daughter in this age group is our most reluctant reader and she absolutely devoured the Prove It! series by Amy Welborn.  There are 5 books in the series which ask and answer the tough questions many young people ask about God, Jesus, the Church, prayer, other religions, etc. Here is a link to Amy’s bookstore webpage.

Other books recommended for this group are:

Prove It! Catholic Teen Bible by Amy Welborn

The Many Faces of Virtue by Donald DeMarco

The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux by Therese of Lisieux and Mother Agnes of God (this is a free pdf version)

Mornings with Saint Therese: 120 Readings compiled by Patricia Treece

Pure Faith: A Prayer Book for Teens by Jason Evert

Lenten Journal: The Pascal Mystery of Christ by Sister John Dominic Rasmussen, O.P. from Education in Virtue

High School

I called upon our 18-year-old daughter to assist me with this category. Her current favorite is The Philosophy of Tolkien by Peter Kreeft.  This is a wonderful read for fans of Middle Earth and all things Tolkien.

Other titles are:

Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid

Surprised by Truth 2 by Patrick Madrid

Surprised by Truth 3 by Patrick Madrid

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly (free copy)

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel

Blessed are the Bored in Spirit by Mark Hart

Edmund Campion: A Life by Evelyn Waugh

7 Men: And the Secret to their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

7 Women: And the Secret to their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

The Bible (of course!)


Last year I read Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s Called to be Holy and I was inspired. I truly could not stop talking about it.  Short, succinct chapters encourage the reader to answer God’s universal call to holiness and give detailed and yet simple instructions for growing in holiness each day.

Other titles for adults include:

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Helena by Evelyn Waugh

Theophilos by Michael D. O’Brien

The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V.

Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide for Accompanying Discernment of God’s Will by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V.

Stages on the Road by Sigrid Undset

Edmund Campion: A Life by Evelyn Waugh

7 Men: And the Secret to their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

7 Women: And the Secret to their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin

Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth by Fr. John Richard Neuhaus

The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn

Strangers in a Strange Land by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

The Bible

Dear Catholic Sistas, what would you add to this list? What are you reading this Lent?

Find us on the Gram, Pinterest, & Facebook!