Religious books for children

Christmas, like Easter, is a season of the year when parents and relatives make an effort to buy children something religious, such as the story of the Nativity or a life of Christ. It would be easy to recommend some books on the Nativity such as Brian Wildsmith's now classic books A Christmas Story with Nativity Set ( Oxford University Press, €14.99/ £12.99) or A Christmas Journey (OUP, €8.99 / £6.99). But in a way such occasional purchases are not a good idea.

Parents are always keen to get their children reading, and the schools do what they can to reinforce this good beginning. But religious books too ought to be bought all the year round, making them a natural part of the general reading of young people. A book token given as a present will encourage the habit.


Religious books should not be ghettoised. This encourages the only too common habit of cutting religious out of the other six days of the week, keeping all that pious stuff for Sunday. But truth to tell, religion is far too important to be left to the merely pious.

People canít complain that the Church leaves them out of its life, if they more or less leave the Church out of their lives. If everyone pitched in the tone of what goes on around a parish would quickly change, as many have been astonished to see in these first months of Pope Francis' hopefully long and vigorous pontificate.

Nor should the titles be restricted to spirituality or books of prayers. History, music, biography, adventures, all these comes with in the compass of religious books. Nothing is more fascinating than there archaeological discoveries continually being made in the Near East relating to early Christianity, or to books exploring aspects of medieval Europe, or early Christian Ireland.

But the problem may well be where to buy books. Certainly few religious books are to be found in many books shops, and those are often under the rubric of 'Mind Body and Spirit'.

Veritas shops

But a visit to the many Veritas shops around the country will help solve the problem. In Dublin, though Easons is a bit of loss, Dubray Books go out of their way to stock religious books of all kinds. Then there is Bestseller, the odd title under which the National Bible Society outlet in Dublinís Dawson Street trades (which is in part owned by the Catholic hierarchy, for those who like to be reassured about such matters). This shop has by far the best stock of books for all ages and all subjects connected with religion to be found in Ireland. 

We need to bear in mind that Christianity  is a complete civilisation, a culture of the mind and heart,  that affects every aspect of life, and not merely some kind of religious sect that is to be tolerated most of the time, and engaged with only now and again, notably at Christmas.