Is there such a thing as “too early” to start loving Jesus? I don’t think so either. One of the best ways to start nurturing this relationship is to help our kids encounter Jesus in the Mass. Of course, even adult Catholics must admit that Mass is not the most user-friendly experience. It takes a little bit of decoding. Luckily, kids love to understand and participate in what their parents are doing. Books are an invaluable tool to help deepen their understanding of what they see and do at Mass. After much careful Amazon review research and bedtime field testing, I enthusiastically recommend the following books to help your little worshipper learn to participate in and love the Mass.
A Missal for Toddlers is a palm-sized board book with adorable illustrations that follows a child through both his own role at Mass and that of the priest. Kids learn to associate visual cues with the Mass responses. It’s a step-by-step guide in story form.
Catholicism’s answer to Brown Bear, Brown Bear is I Went to Mass. What Did I See? Each page has a beautiful black and white illustration. The only object in color on each page is the answer to “What did I see?” This creates a visual association between the object and its name so that kids learn words like altar, Eucharist, incense, font, etc. My daughter has the whole book memorized and recites it along with me as we read. Her only edit? Instead of “the priest” she says, “I see Fr. Alex in the aisle by me!”
My First Interactive Mass Book is designed to be taken to Mass so that kids can follow along. It’s a DIY activity for parents, who have the option to cut, laminate, and add velcro to pieces for kids to complete activities like matching the correct colored vestments. My favorite page is a visual scavenger hunt for kids to spot the items on the page in the church. With prior practice at home, kids will learn words like tabernacle, thurible, and purificator, and busy themselves trying to spot them during the homily.
Alright, so the Bible is not technically a book about Mass, but you cannot understand the Mass without understanding the Bible. So it counts. This particular Bible from Ignatius Press is especially helpful in that regard. What I love about this Bible is how carefully curated the stories are. The selections that appear in this Bible trace God’s covenants from the time of Adam and Eve all the way through salvation history to Jesus. It does not skip the crucifixion, as I have seen in some Bibles, and ends not with the resurrection, but with Pentecost and the Church’s mission of evangelization.
Boy, it’s a good thing my godchildren are too young to read or this post would really spoil the next few birthdays and Christmases!