The following are examples of the rich resources that Novalis has in our catalogue to support Catholic educators. In preparing for the school year ahead, consider these and many other resources at novalis.ca which can help to enrich the Catholic ethos of your classroom and school environment.
Everyone Belongs by US Conference of Catholic Bishops
School is a place where we can integrate messages of equity and inclusion and emphasize gospel values. This book by the U.S. Conference of bishops tells a story of friendship and demonstrates how close to home hate can reside. This would be a wonderful read-a-loud for junior grades (4, 5 and 6). There is a link to lessons and activities at the back of the book.
Teaching Kids to Care for God’s Creation by Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ
K-8 teachers may decide to make environmentalism and social action themes for their year. The encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si, is the best place to start this learning and discussion. It is so important that our Catholic students know that our church sees caring for creation as a moral obligation. This book by Sr. Mary Elizabeth Clark is rich in suggesting practical activities, prayers and faith formation that can be used throughout the school year. The themes can be integrated into all subject areas and can also serve as a guide for school-wide focus and the environmental/green school initiatives.
Justin and Mia Discover the Treasures of the Mass by Anne-Isabelle Lacassagne & Isabelle Monnerot-Dumaine
Establishing protocols and providing catechesis about the Mass can often be overlooked in class learning. In preparation for school wide liturgies, this book, Justin and Mia Discover the Treasures of the Mass, is an excellent resource to deepen the knowledge of students about the mass. Justin and Mia ask common questions and the book lays out the information in a respectful and engaging way for young learners. There are text boxes for parents. These could be useful for class newsletters. The tone of this book is invitational and a light and respectful way to invite families to more participation in the local faith community.
We Follow Jesus by Christine Way Skinner
We Follow Jesus by Christine Way Skinner and illustrated by Celeste Gagnon is a great starting place for teaching faith in younger grades. This is the perfect book to be read before making assumptions about what the students know about Jesus and the Catholic faith. The simple narrative and engaging illustrations invite the children into an experience of knowing Jesus. The images connect to significant moments in the Word of God that will give learners a schema for the ongoing catechesis in religious education in the years ahead. This is a book that can help to connect parents with religious learning in the school and classroom. It could be sent home as a read-a-loud family resource.
Amazing Friendships Between Animals and Saints by Greg Kennedy, SJ
Students are fascinated by saint stories. Amazing Friendships Between Animals and Saints is an especially engaging book for youth as it describes the special relationships that saints had with animals. Each story can be a separate lesson and can be easily integrated into Art or language classes. The illustrations are stunning, bringing the student into the interconnected world of flora and fauna. Each story connects with a quote from Laudato Si. This book is a rich resource for Environmental Studies, Religion and Visual Art. At the back of the book, there is a list of the animals and vegetation illustrated through the book. There is also a link provided where extra resources can extend the learning.
Ted Laxton’s resource should be on the desk of every Science and Religion teacher. This informative writing helps to alleviate the misconception that many have that science and religion are at odds. As the book quotes St. John Paul II, “scientific research constitutes for you…the way for the personal encounter with truth…”At a time in history when many question scientific contribution to society, there is an urgent need to help students develop into discerning believers. The author cautions the reader/teacher about literalism and materialism and guides them into a framework for the “engagement of faith and reason.” The content is challenging, but it opens up a world of possibility for those who are seeking to know more.
Jan Bentham is a retired Religion Coordinator with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She is a musician, serving in music ministry at St. Ignatius Parish in Ottawa. She currently works at St. Paul’s University with the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program.