Orthodox Board Books by Angela Isaacs

Goodnight Jesus published by Ancient Faith and illustrated by Nicolas Malara

This was the first Orthodox board book I ever saw or owned. We have gone through 2 copies amongst my 4 kids and I have gifted it to all my godsons and many of the kids at our parish. Note the bite marks and worn cover above! If you want a comforting, lyrical, and sturdy book for toddlers and babies, then this is an excellent choice.

The Myrrhbearing Women and Zacchaeus

With illustrations that are definitely Orthodox and a variety of familiar saints, this board book captures the attention of the littlest ones and is easily read out loud by emerging readers. An excellent bedtime go-to to focus our thoughts on God and family before rest.

A simple prayer: Lord have mercy.

In case you already own “Goodnight Jesus,” then another excellent addition to your liturgy bag or night stand is “I Pray Today.” We were gifted this by my youngest daughter’s godmother when she was baptized. In this book as the children go through their day from breakfast to bedtime, they repeat the prayer Lord have Mercy. This one is especially great for helping little ones memorize a short prayer or begin to pray for themselves. I also appreciate the various activities where the children turn to prayer to help them refocus.

As a Mama who loves to read, this book’s pleasant illustrations by Amandine Wanert make it one I don’t mind reading over and over again with my babies.

If you have kids under 5, then I would recommend you add this to your nightly rocking chair reading time. Or if you have many small children at your local parish, consider donating a copy of each to the church school nursery class teacher or if you have a basket of books for kids to look at during Liturgy, these are excellent choices!

Both can be purchased from the Ancient Faith Store: https://store.ancientfaith.com/goodnight-jesus-board-book/

Kelsey’s Review of God’s Saintly Friends

This is a sweet book about what saintly people do, focusing on their relationships with others. Each page is laid out so that it is predictable to emerging readers, with words on the left and art on the right. The beautifully simple line-drawing illustrations focus on the main characters; the color palette is gentle and pleasing.

The theme of describing what a saint is like is clear throughout the eight stories in the book, and is made understandable with relatable concepts. Sparking curiosity for “the rest of the story,” older kids will likely ask for more details about some of the saints. For younger kids, they can be asked to point out similar experiences in their world.

The words on each page are separated into a short factual statement and a longer description with some details, making it easy to read to children of all ages. Children can visit with each page, soaking in the details and pondering the story.

It is the perfect size: large enough to read to a lapful of kids, small enough to fit in a diaper bag, and takes about 3 minutes to read. For our family, it will be a perfect addition to our rotation of books for the kids’ church bag, and as a short story break for when I’m asked “can you read me a book?” while I’m in the midst of folding laundry or vacuuming.

This book is 100% American made by Orthodox Christian mothers who run small businesses when not busy with their children. It was written, illustrated, edited, printed, and packaged in the USA. (Not every Orthodox publisher prints in the US.) My kids love it, and we’re excited to add it to our collection of Christian kids books!”

God’s Saintly Friends is available from the publisher and in the Ancient Faith Store.

Kelsey is a mom of three who sometimes gets to design fabric and sew, but always makes time to read to her kids and to herself.

Alyson’s Review of Spyridon’s Shoes

Cover of Spyridon's Shoes
This book is also available as a paperback.

Set on the Greek Island of Corfu, the audiobook Spyridon’s Shoes by Christine Rogers is written for the seven-year-old to the pre-teen, but can be appreciated by any age. The historic fictional child Spiro and his environs are described in colorful language and details as we learn how he catches fish and octopuses to support his family. The choice expressions the author uses are dramatic and paints pictures of the playful and realistic antics of your everyday beach-loving boy. She also reads the story aloud with expression that matches the lively action.

The author brings to life the historical character of St. Spyridon who young Spiro encounters multiple times while fishing at the shore. He helps the boy when he injures his foot and nobody else is nearby to help him home. The boy looks for his kindly friend and repairs the ripped sandal tall Spyridon loaned him to walk home in. In later encounters, they become friends as he tells the white-bearded man about his worries and dreams and is consoled and encouraged. I loved the drama of the relationship that unfolded as the fatherly man shared his thoughts and aspirations about how to know God and confide in Him about everyday matters.

The traits of St. Spyridon such as his habit of helping people in need are based on actual stories passed down for centuries in Corfu. I enjoyed the author’s creativity in adding drama that aids the imagination to picture the skeleton story-line we are often left with in historical accounts. This allows the reader to appreciate the historical figure and for a child to encounter him or her more fully.

I came away with a vivid picture of the generosity and kindness of our historic saints who labor for us in invisible ways. And also the profound reminder of what saints’ lives constantly remind us of: that our connection to God is vital for the everyday things we need and prayers are what create and continue this connection.

Spyridon’s Shoes is available on Audible, and as a paperback from the publisher and on Amazon.

Alyson d’Arms is a homeschool education specialist and teacher who dabbles in poetry and historical fiction writing. She is currently exploring the trails and stories of wild Alaska.