Giveaway, & New Podcast Episode: Historical Fiction (and Marian Apparition!) with Author Theoni Bell

In today’s episode, I speak with author Theoni Bell. You’ll hear about:

**Affiliate disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links where I earn a little money from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for helping an author out! 🙂

Congratulations to our Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Betsy, winner of last episode’s giveaway, who has won a copy of a board book about St. John Paul II. Listen to our last episode, or be sure to enter into this episode’s giveaway for a chance to win!

Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server is available for Pre-Order!

Filled with relatable foibles and Arthur’s fierce desire to serve God, Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server is a great way to share faith with your kiddos! Pre-order now at https://amzn.to/3C2ao42.

Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server comes out September 2022

Pre-ordering books is a fantastic way to support an author or a book, as all pre-order sales help boost the book well into the future with search engine algorithms. If you’re thinking of buying this book, don’t wait, and order some as Christmas gifts while you’re at it!

Your purchase will go farther by helping others find the book now and in the future. Post-publication sells help as well, but pre-orders are SUPER POWERFUL! Thanks so much for your support, and I wish you laughs and hugs and happy reading!

Want to be interviewed?

If you would like to be interviewed on the Catholic Kidlit podcast, if you have some insight into Catholic children’s books, if you are an author/editor, you can apply at Catholic Kidlit dot com or send me a message through the contact form.

Editing a Book for Catholic Adults!

And on the writing side, I am working on edits for a book which will be coming out next about the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which is a devotion that has come to mean a lot to me. This will be my first book for adults and I am looking forward to sharing further details about that book with you all soon.

Today’s Podcast Episode

As for the podcast, we are kind of expanding today’s interview into a pretty interesting area–I have to say–an older kind of middle grade, like middle school, older elementary, young adult work. 

My guest today is Theoni Bell and she has written a book called the woman in the trees about a Marian apparition in the United States in Wisconsin. 

So as we will discuss in the interview, Marian apparitions are always approached first with doubt by the church. So it’s not a requirement of Catholicism that any Catholic believe in this apparition that we’re about to hear about. But I was fascinated to hear about it. And I learned a lot from listening to Theoni Bell. So I hope that you enjoy listening as well and enjoy hearing about this resource, which is available to our children. 

Thanks for the Review!

Also stay tuned for information about a giveaway at the end of this episode. And huge, thanks to a reviewer, justadance who said of the podcast:

“What a fantastic and much needed idea. I’m excited to see where the podcast The topic of children’s literature as well, worth a podcast, especially linking it to how to connect through love and faith.” 

Justadance

So thank you so much for that really kind review. If you’re enjoying this podcast, be sure to subscribe and if you leave a review, I always appreciate it. Same for my books. Reviews are hugely appreciated. 

Now on Patreon

And if you want to further support the podcast, you can now do so on Patreon. This is a passion project of mine. So your contribution can help keep the podcast going. And if you join the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club through Patreon, you can find extra interviews, information, and support about the book-creation side of things, the writing and publishing.

I’m piloting moving the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club onto Patreon as a more robust way to share that kidlit creation side with members and to make it more accessible to people by offering it as a monthly amount instead of an annual sum. So we’ll see how all that goes.

But thank you so much in joining me here on this free podcast. And now for the interview!

Interview with Theoni Bell

Hello, Theoni Bell. Welcome to the Catholic Kidlit Podcast. Today, we are here talking about her book, The Woman in the Trees, which is a chapter book based on the historical event, which happened in Wisconsin, where Mary appeared. So could you tell us about the apparition itself and then a little bit about the story that you’ve set around it? 

Theoni Bell: Yeah. Thank you for having me on, first. 

I really appreciate it. I found the shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in 2013. And we were looking for a place to do a pilgrimage. We had some prayers that we wanted to leave with Mary.

So we drove out to the shrine and that’s how I got introduced to it. When both of my prayers were answered within three months– my husband had gotten into grad school and I had conceived when I wasn’t able to previously–I became very interested in making Our Lady of Good Help our patron. 

So Our Lady appeared to an immigrant from Belgium in 1859.

The Belgian’s name was Adele Bryce, and she was 27–maybe 28. Sorry. And she came over from Wallonia, and there were a lot of Catholics leaving at the time and they were all coming to Wisconsin, and they became a very tight-knit community because they were totally secluded in the forest where they started their settlements.

They had no roads for five years. They were totally cut off from churches and priests and Adele was just going about her life, trying to help her family survive. She saw Our Lady three times. 

The first time she was carrying a stack of wheat to the grist mill and Our Lady said nothing. And the second time she was on her way to Mass and Our Lady again said nothing.

So Adele asked her confessor what she should do. And the confessor said, you, you need to ask, “who are you? And what do you want from me?” So on the way back on that same day as the second apparition, she had the third apparition and her sister Isabella was with her, with another person from the settlement.

And Our Lady came, they could not see Our Lady, but Adele told them that they needed to kneel, and they could see that Adele that was obviously struck. She had fallen to the ground and was having a conversation with Our Lady. And so she did ask, “who are you and what do you want?” And then our lady delivered her message.

Our Lady called herself the Queen of Heaven. Just some highlights from the message. She called herself, the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners. She said that sinners needed to convert and do penance. She told Adele to gather all the children in the wild country where they lived and teach them what they should know for salvation to teach them their catechism.

So Adele spent the rest of her life until she died in 1906. And she trekked through the wilderness in all four seasons. And she pulled those children together in homes and she, you know, traded household chores and farm work for time with the children. And then eventually she was able to raise enough money to build St. Mary’s Academy. And she took on orphans and other boarders. 

And then in 1871, there was a huge fire. And Adele stayed at the chapel with the other third order Franciscan sisters who were living and teaching with her. And they prayed throughout the night with settlers who fled there for safety. And then in the morning, a downpour came and put that fire out.

And it was the most devastating fire in American history and the only property that was still green in the area with nothing harmed was the chapel and all of the grounds that had been consecrated to Mary. So the other interesting fact about that fire is that it happened on the 12th anniversary of the apparition.

So people at the shrine and people, you know, throughout history have talked about that as being the chastisement, I guess that Our Lady had warned about in her message. 

Theresa Kiser: Wow. That’s that’s a lot there. And that’s in the United States.

That’s in Wisconsin. And this is, you know, not as familiar a story as some of Mary’s other apparitions. 

Theoni Bell: Yes. It’s not. And that’s why I wanted to write about it. 

Theresa Kiser: When you wrote this book, you’re writing this book to share this message. And I like that it aligns with Mary’s message at the apparition.

She said to catechize the children and your book is directed towards children. So tell us a little bit about that story because it’s historical fiction, right? So you have a spin on the story itself. 

Theoni Bell: Yeah. So I wanted to tell this story. I prayed a lot when I decided I was gonna dedicate some time to being a writer and I really felt like Mary was telling me to write this story. And she had recently, you know, answered our petition. 

So I really started writing this book in a very disorganized way. It all came out well, but I would do things differently now. My main goal in the beginning was to just tell this story.

As I told this story, I realized I was also catechizing, like you mentioned at the same time, because when there’s a community that has received a message from Our Lady, there’s a lot of questioning of the faith. There’s a lot of doubt. There’s a lot of suffering on behalf of the people who are part of this situation.

And then you just have the history of America at the time. As I looked into the history, there were lots of other conflicts going on. The Civil War took place during the period that the story takes place. And the Belgians were historically very patriotic. They were very grateful to be in America.

And a lot of the settlers from Belgium took place in that war. It is historical fiction. We have very few words from Adele Bryce, so I did have to come up with what I thought she might speak like and sound like based on just a handful of sentences we have of hers. But there is a lot of information about the community itself.

It’s a community that’s been the subject of many research papers because of how tight-knit the community was and how they managed to survive in the wilderness, and then how they managed to rebuild and come back stronger after the fire. So there was a lot there in the historical record about America at the time and about the Belgians.

So I was able to use real Belgian surnames. And I was able to look up what their voyages across the ocean would be like. So I tried to make things as truthful as possible and let history kind of set the boundaries for me. And my background is in journalism. So coming up with plot lines and characters all by myself is actually the harder part for me.

Theresa Kiser: I can see how that could just pull one’s mind into a ton of different, interesting directions from the historical standpoint, the faith, and then just the story of these individuals and this community. 

So this book designed for? Which age readers?

Theoni Bell: So it’s designed for middle grade and young adults. You know, kids are are always at different reading levels than what they’re assigned, but most of my readers are between the ages of 10 and 20, but I get a lot of feedback from moms who absolutely loved it. And it’s being read in adult book groups right now.

And I think anyone who wants to know about this apparition, they’re gonna really find themselves immersed into this world and really understanding Adele Bryce and that community at the time. So anyone who loves historical fiction, anyone who wants to know more about Our Lady’s apparition, but also her role in our faith because like I said, the book deals a lot with building that relationship with Mary, understanding that relationship with Mary cuz there are a lot of people in the story who doubt the apparition and throw a lot of questions at my main character about it. 

Theresa Kiser: Right. And that must have been interesting to find those questions. Were those questions that you found were asked to them specifically, or that you imagined would be asked in that context?

How did you figure out which criticisms would have been launched at this apparition at the time? 

Theoni Bell: Well, it actually like a lot of apparition visionaries, Adele was persecuted, I guess you could say, by some of the locals. And she was also interrogated by the local clergy at the time.

The first two archbishops of Green Bay did not believe her. And they were worried because they saw, like you saw at Lourdes and other places, they saw the crowds coming. And they saw someone retelling a story of this miraculous event. And so I think it’s the Church’s stance in the first place to be doubtful.

I mean, they even doubted Padre Pio, so I don’t really hold it against them, but she did go through a lot. She was barred from receiving the Eucharist. There’s a story that she showed up to Mass and was not given a seat in the pew. So she knelt in the aisle. So that’s one way that, that she had to deal with people doubting her message.

And then the second is at the time a lot of people were coming to America to flee religious persecution in other places in Europe. And one of the issues they had was religion being tied into the government, or, you know, the king. You have all the wars in like England, say, where there’s Protestant king persecuting Catholics, and then the Catholic king is persecuting Protestants. So they were worried about it. 

They called Catholics names like “Papist” because they were very scared and they didn’t believe in the church. So those people were always, you know, doing their circuits around the country. And there is a man who she did have to come up against. I’m thinking about writing a sequel to include him. And he was a Protestant who was very anti-Catholic and tried to take a lot of the Catholic to his side. 

Theresa Kiser: Doubt is a pattern for a lot of apparitions. I think of Fatma and I mean, even Jesus, himself, he was treated the same way as somebody who was creating an assault on the faith, when really he was–he wasn’t just bringing a message, but the fulfillment of the faith itself. 

So about Our Lady of Good Help for people who don’t know? What does this name of Mary mean? And what does this emphasize in her message?

Theoni Bell: the last line of her message is “go and fear nothing. I will help you.” That’s the last thing she said, because Adele asked her … Our Lady said, “teach the children, gather them and teach them the sacraments.”

And then Adele said “how am I to teach them who know so little?” 

And Mary’s response was “go and fear nothing. I will help you.” Like, just, don’t worry about it. You have to just trust me, trust the Lord. 

And so I think that’s part of where the title comes from, but also there are shrines in Belgium that are already Our Lady of Good Help.

Not because Marion apparitions happen there, anything like that, but it is a title that’s been used for a long time for Mary.

Theresa Kiser: Okay. Was Adele familiar with that name for Mary before she saw her? 

Theoni Bell: I’m pretty sure she was. I think I have read that she named the first chapel.

It was in French and I have a very bad French accent, so I’m not gonna do it, but it was Our Lady of Good Help over the doorway in French. And so that was something that she was familiar with, with the chapel in her home country by the same name. 

Theresa Kiser: So when children read this book, what do you hope that they walk away from it with?

Theoni Bell: I hope that they walk away with a new mother, a second mother, if they still have their earthly moms, because I think that really embracing Mary as our mother just takes your faith to another level. And it’s very helpful in all of the struggles that kids are gonna face as they grow up: struggles just with society, struggles interiorly, emotionally, spiritually… there’s nothing more comforting than to really dive into a relationship with Mary and just know that she’s always there.

I mean, when I pray to Mary, I’ve gotten to the point where I just spiritually lay in her arms, and it’s almost like–it’s like taking a nap, it just resets me. 

So I really hope that kids can read this and come to a better understanding of Mary’s role and that she’s always leading us to Christ, she’s always united to Christ. 

Theresa Kiser: This book, is it a long read for older elementary school kids? Is it a short read? What’s kind of the time commitment from them?

Theoni Bell: I think it’s a longer read. I would say if you worked on it steadily, it would take about a month forof a middle grader to read because there’s a lot theology in it and it’s written at their age level, but it still slows the reading down a little bit, cuz they have to think, and there’s a lot of history in there.

So their minds have to make connections while they’re reading with what they might already know about American history or the Church. So for a young adult or an adult, it’s gonna go a lot faster, but it it’s definitely not… what’s the word? Charlotte Mason uses the word “twaddle.” It’s definitely not twaddle. It’s kind of dense.

Theresa Kiser: Yeah. It sounds like the perfect Charlotte Mason type supplement to just slow down and really think through the history, the time, this person’s life and the faith. 

So I just wanna thank you so much for introducing us to this book for the time in writing it. 

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

And also Theoni is offering a giveaway for our listeners. So if you out there are intrigued by this book and want to learn more, you can enter to win a digital or a print copy of this book. And she also has some stickers, Our Lady of Good Help stickers. So all of this can spread the word about Our Lady’s message to pray for the conversion of sinners and to catechize young children.

Enter the giveaway here.

This has been Theresa Kiser with the Catholic Kidlit Podcast. 

The best way to support the Catholic kidlit creator you heard from today is to buy their books, leave reviews, and spread the word on social media and in person.

If you want to write meaningful children’s books with a Catholic heart, check out the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club at CatholicKidlit.com. 

Together we can create and discover books to nurture children’s souls.

Thanks so much for tuning in, and see you next time!

Which Marian apparition means most to you?

Let me know in the comments!


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the picture books Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (Our Sunday Visitor, Coming 2022), Seven Gifts of Baptism (Holy Heroes, Coming 2022), and Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019), as well as the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


Pre-Orders, Giveaway, & New Podcast Episode: Board Book Saint Biographies with Author Cassie Herrington

In today’s episode, I speak with author Cassie Herrington. You’ll hear about:

  • Now available for pre-order: Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server
  • Why pre-orders matter
  • How saint stories can nourish the souls of the littlest children
  • Celebrating liturgical feasts
  • How respecting children’s freedom shares God’s love
  • A giveaway of the Little Saint Stories board book: John Paul II
  • And more!

**Affiliate disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links where I earn a little money from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for helping an author out! 🙂

Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server is available for Pre-Order!

Filled with relatable foibles and Arthur’s fierce desire to serve God, Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server is a great way to share faith with your kiddos! Pre-order now at https://amzn.to/3C2ao42.

Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server comes out September 2022

Pre-ordering books is a fantastic way to support an author or a book, as all pre-order sales help boost the book well into the future with search engine algorithms. If you’re thinking of buying this book, don’t wait, and order some as Christmas gifts while you’re at it!

Your purchase will go farther by helping others find the book now and in the future. Post-publication sells help as well, but pre-orders are SUPER POWERFUL! Thanks so much for your support, and I wish you laughs and hugs and happy reading!

Want to be interviewed?

If you would like to be interviewed on the Catholic Kidlit podcast, if you have some insight into Catholic children’s books, if you are an author/editor, you can apply at Catholic Kidlit dot com or send me a message through the contact form.

Now for the Interview with Author Cassie Herrington

Theresa Kiser: Today. We are here with Cassie Herrington, who is the producer of the Little Saint Stories board book series, which was launched with a Kickstarter campaign quite recently. So these are board books all about saints.

Cassie, thank you for coming on the show. As a fellow board book writer, I would love to hear about your creation of these books for our littlest readers.

So, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and, and the series that you’ve launched?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be on with you. So yeah, like you said, I kind of recently, so in the past year and a half came out with six books and their board books, and that was really important to me, for them to be board books.

And I’ll talk about that in just a minute. I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’m a youth minister full time, always trying to spread Jesus with people, whether it’s in books for little ones or talking to high schoolers. And it wasn’t until COVID that I really started to sit down and feel the Lord pulling my heart to start writing books.

And here we are. So yeah, very excited to be sharing Jesus with the littlest and cutest of the saints among us and have books that are made for their tiny little chubby hands.

Theresa Kiser: We have board books that are shredded to pieces, but they, they last as long as they can. It’s because they’re well loved.

So you’ve poured love into these books about the saints themselves. So which saints do you have in your series so far and how are they presented for babies?

And you said that there’s a–I have so many questions. You said there’s a reason that you wanted them to be board books for these little ones.

So why did you write specifically for our youngest little people?

Cassie Herrington: Great question. So the Saint set I have currently in my first set of books, cuz I did it in kind of two sets. I had St. Joseph. It was the year of St. Joseph last year when I wrote it. St. Francis of Assisi, another beloved Saint, and St. Germaine, who’s not super well known.

And then in my second set, I did: Mother Teresa, St. Theresa Lisieux, and St. John Paul II.

So those are the saints I have so far. I have some that I’m thinking about doing next, but always open to suggestions if you have any.

And then, yeah, so the reason for the board books: I always you know, I grew up being like a babysitter and a nanny and I always was around little kids.

I’m not a mom yet, but hope to be someday. And I always thought, “Man, these kids memorize these books from such a young age and wouldn’t it be great if they were memorizing things about their faith and starting to learn at a really young age.” And then I also just remember sitting in the pews as kind of an older kid thinking, “Man, like, you know, that kid’s playing with trucks and whatever,” which is great, you know, if they’re not old enough to pay attention, then sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, but how cool it be if it were toys and books that were elevating their hearts towards worship at such a young age. And so it was always something in the back of my mind that I just wish there was more of a market for Catholic toys and Catholic books, which now we kind of see blossoming, which is amazing.

And so having, or being able to be a part of that is really cool. And the board books, I kind of thought, you know, when kids are reading books in Mass, it’s not always quiet, right? Like when they’re turning the paper pages or, you know, flopping it all around. And so board books are not only easier for their fingers to turn at that age when they really are not expected to kind of still and do much with the Mass yet.

But it’s also a lot quieter. So if they’re sitting there, they can independently turn those pages and they’re not, you know, wrestling papers and maybe disrupting the family that’s sitting next to them or whatever it is.

Theresa Kiser: That is so true. And I think that memorization is kind of underrated because it really can stick with you.

I mean, we have memorized tons of fun, secular books: Yellow Copter, Cat in the Hat, all of these… But we had a, a priest who catechized my group when I was going through school and he taught us to say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” he would say that, and we would respond “and do not lean on your own understanding.”

And then we’d go back and forth: “in all your ways, acknowledge Him. And He will direct your paths” and years, and years and years later, I remember that. And it’s so interesting that these words that children memorize can stay on their hearts and really shape them. And for the parents too, if there’s something worthy in the picture books that parent might be reading that over and over and over again so there’s a lot of time to think about it.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

So how are these Saint stories presented to the child? What kind of words and pictures will a parent and child encounter in these board books?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah. So I tried really hard to kind of narrow down the story of these saints. I mean, these saints led such beautiful lives and they’re saints for good reasons.

But you can’t fit everything onto 12 pages. So taking just what I thought was really the important aspects of why that Saint is unique and also the things that maybe are relatable for whether it’s the parent or maybe like the child once they start to grow up. So, you know, all of the saints led holy lives.

That’s important. That’s good to know. But you know, some things that I highlighted like St. Therese, she lost her mom growing up. Unfortunately, that’s something some of these kids will relate to or, you know, Mother Teresa, she went on mission trips. Maybe that’s something that kids have all older siblings or their parents went on mission trips and things like that.

And so I just tried to grab aspects that made these saints unique, right? Cuz none of them are cookie cutter saints. They’re all very beautifully themselves. And then put it in a way. Kids can understand, which is sometimes difficult because, you know, how do you talk about certain big topics about, you know, all these different things that happen in the world and that these saints have experienced in little people terms.

So it took a lot of, you know, using a thesaurus, a lot of working with my editor but I think that, yeah, I found a way to kind of portray these saints in a way that’s graspable for little kids. And it’s definitely a good stepping point. You know, it doesn’t provide all the information. You know, maybe later on I’ll do books for older kids that kind of add on.

And as far as the pictures, I really worked with my illustrator. It was easier with the more modern saint, right, like John Paul II, and Mother Teresa, because we have pictures of them. But for specifically St. Joseph, you know, I wanted him to look accurate, right. Like ethnically accurate and just try to like portray them in a way that wasn’t stoic and didn’t look like a Saint that existed a thousand years ago.

Or for some of ’em, even only a couple hundred years ago, but someone who looked just like these kids and yeah, it was just really like reachable and graspable for ’em.

That’s great.

Theresa Kiser: It’s, it’s interesting. I mean, even with, with St. John Paul II, that’s up to less than less than 20 years ago. So it’s really recent. I mean, I’m not even, I’m sure it’s even more recent than that.

But I will say about board books. It’s interesting that you’re talking about these things that children can relate to, especially with St. Therese. I mean, St. Therese lost her mom when she was four, generally board books are seen as written for zero to three year olds. The fact is, especially in families, when you have a large number of children and when you have the mass bag, those children will be seeing those books for many years.

And with such a short amount of time– number of pages and words–you have a chance to kind of strike the heart of that child in multiple different ways. So I really like that approach that you’ve taken. Can you give us insight into one of the themes or messages? That might be one of the takeaways from one of your books?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah. Each of the saints has a little theme or goal for the reader of how to grow in their relationship with God.

And so one of my favorites, it was actually the first book that I wrote is about Saint Germaine and she’s now super popular, but she’s known for trusting the Lord with everything that she had.

And so definitely throughout the story, you kind of see how Germaine left her sheep an awful lot for being a shepherd, but she trusted that God would keep the wolves away and sure enough, He did. And so she went and she left for good reason. She left to go to Mass every day.

So at the end of that book it kind of teaches, you know, if we trust in God, then he will provide. And so that’s probably one of my favorites is learning to trust like Germaine.

Theresa Kiser: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

Cassie Herrington: Yeah, there you go.

Theresa Kiser: I love that that came back around.

So let’s dive into to one of these stories specifically, let’s talk about John Paul a second, since he is so, so recent and such a beautiful example for us. So what do you have to share about him in your Little Saint story?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah, so St. John Paul II is by far my favorite saint. And so it was really hard to fit all of the things that I loved into just 12 pages.

So a couple of my favorite things is I was able to highlight his love for skiing and hiking. And there’s a little picture of him skiing down a snowy mountain, which I think is something that, I mean, I’m from Michigan, I’m from the north. The snow is something that, you know, is definitely relatable.

I talked about him acting in his own plays and doing theater and things like that. And so just showing super multidimensional pieces to his character and who he was. He wasn’t just someone who sat in a church and prayed all day. That’s something that I really appreciate about St. John Paul II.

And he loved the youth. Like he loved kids and young people and so it’s very fitting, right, that one of my first books would be about him. And so just being able to share that with the kids, you know, like this saint loves you in such a special way. And so, yeah, that was really cool.

There’s so many pictures that we see of St. John Paul II holding babies and little ones. And so being able to incorporate an image like that into the book so that maybe the kids can be like, wow, that looks like me. You know, that looks like St. John Paul II is holding me. So that would be like, my dream is to find a little girl who looks like the one in the book and, you know, see that connection made.

Theresa Kiser: When you were putting these books together and presenting them in your youth ministry, do you have any tips for parents on how to present the books to their children or to catechesis classes if they’re leading them?

Cassie Herrington: Oh yeah. That’s a great question. Hmm. I mean, I would say the easiest answer is start young, right?

Like start when they definitely don’t even understand what you are reading to them. I would say that’s probably the easiest answer, but for those who might have kind of older kids, Honestly, I think the best way is to let them explore them on their own at first.

Maybe this is just my experience, but sometimes kids reading a new book is not what they want. If they just wanna hear about the Little Blue Tractor, then that’s all they wanna hear. Right. Or maybe, you know, it’s another one of their favorite books, you know, they’re not willing to go to a different one, but just setting them out for them to look and for them to get familiar and have curiosity kind of grow in their heart on their own is really something that I feel like might break into some of those kids who, you know, have the same three books that they love to read over and over again.

Theresa Kiser: Yeah, I like that too because it’s making it available. It’s not forcing. Force feeding the faith is not really great. That’s not really the way to share it because God presents his love to us for us to accept or reject freely. And so he respects that freedom.

And when we respect the freedom of our children, that’s how we can model God’s love. And he also though shows the beauty of what he has to offer of the love that he is.

And we can provide our children with resources that share that beauty. That’s just the most beautiful way to attract a soul is through beauty. I like your approach of just respecting what interests the children and making it available to them to explore on their timeline. I think that’s beautiful.

Cassie Herrington: Yeah. And sometimes even making it like a celebration! I make really big deals out of random holidays or random celebrations. So saint parties are one of my favorite things, you know, like I’ll bake a cake for whatever Saint it is that we’re celebrating that day.

And so, you know, if you have catechesis on October 1st, well, let’s do a Saint Therese party. Let’s do, you know, a craft that has to do with roses or little flowers and let’s read her book because it’s the day that we celebrate her. And make it almost like a birthday party for the saints.

And that’s a fun way to incorporate kids and get them excited and really interested in different aspects of the Catholic faith is, you know, just make it exciting, make it like a birthday party, a Feast day party.

Theresa Kiser: And that’s true. We have a lot of Feasts to celebrate, so let’s take advantage! Let’s enjoy it!

That’s great. So you say you have more books in the, in the works potentially?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah. Yep. Haven’t quite decided which ones are coming next, but there definitely are some that are coming up.

Theresa Kiser: And where can people find out more about the books, the Little Saint Stories and what you might have coming down the pipeline?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah. So the best way to find the books is going to be littlesaintstories.com and then the best way to follow along with what might be coming up or some other projects that I have going on would be on Instagram @littleSaintstories.

So pretty simple, just Little Saint Stories anywhere should be able to find me.

Theresa Kiser: Cassie has generously offered to share a copy of the St. John Paul II board book with a listener. We are going to be hosting a giveaway. So if you can look in the show notes, if you’re interested in winning one of these board books from her collection then check that out and share that around so we can get the word out.

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Is there any other message that you wanna leave with our listeners today?

Cassie Herrington: Yeah, you know, I recently heard a saying called, “I’ll see you in the Eucharist.” And so it’s a way of like saying goodbye and saying like, I might never see these listeners face to face, but as a universal church, when we come together in the Eucharist, in our individual churches or in our homes, like, I’ll see you in the Eucharist.

And I like to think, you know, we see all of these saints that we read about in the Eucharist too. So what I just wanna say to all the listeners is I’ll see you in the Eucharist.

Theresa Kiser: Thank you so much, Cassie. This is beautiful. Well, I’ll see you in the Eucharist and thank you so much for being on the show.

Cassie Harrington: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Theresa Kiser: This has been Theresa Kiser with the Catholic Kidlit Podcast. 

The best way to support the Catholic kidlit creator you heard from today is to buy their books, leave reviews, and spread the word on social media and in person.

If you want to write meaningful children’s books with a Catholic heart, check out the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club at CatholicKidlit.com. 

Together we can create and discover books to nurture children’s souls.

Thanks so much for tuning in, and see you next time!

Which saint do you want to share with your little ones?

Let me know in the comments!


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the picture books Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (Our Sunday Visitor, Coming 2022), Seven Gifts of Baptism (Holy Heroes, Coming 2022), and Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019), as well as the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!