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‘Teeny Tiny Theology’ series is a perfect gift for little ones this Easter
World-renowned educator Maria Montessori once wrote that “the secret of good teaching is to respect the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown.” That respect of the child as an intelligent person resonates through all of her teachings and is one of the many things that I love about her method. You won’t find anything fluffy or dumbed down in Maria’s curricula, no sir.
If only that were true about children’s books.
Unfortunately, there are so many books for kids these days that are all fluff and no substance. As a parent, I am very picky about what books come onto our shelves and was cautiously optimistic when OSV released the “Teeny Tiny Theology” series. When I opened the first pages, though, I was blown away.
Written for the youngest members of Christ’s family by author Michael Heinlein, editor of OSV’s sister website SimplyCatholic.com, each board book tackles a different topic of Catholic doctrine — Sacred Scripture, the Trinity, Christology and salvation history. You’ll be thrilled when (not if) your child latches on to these books as new favorites.
Here are some of the reasons I love them:
1. They’re board books. With a toddler around, it’s important to me to have books he can hold and look at without ruining. These are now in constant rotation in our home book baskets and our Mass bag because they are as durable as they are beautiful and well-written.
2. These books have real theology. Want your kiddo to understand what the hypostatic union is? Check. Learn the meaning of the Magisterium? Check. Grasp salvation history at their own level? Check.
I was impressed by the topics tackled by these books, but even more so by the way Heinlein wrote them. He has put real theology into language that young children can understand, and he does it in a way that respects both their intelligence and their dignity.
The language is simple and effective without being dry or dull, which means that my kids listen and learn. I love that Heinlein writes expecting that the child being read to will be able to understand the concepts he is presenting (which they do). There is no watered-down doctrine in any of this series, which is probably why they are the only board books I have ever come across that have an imprimatur.
3. The Illustrations are beautiful. Illustrations can make or break a children’s book. Even the best text cannot survive being paired with bad pictures. The illustrations in the “Teeny Tiny Theology” books are well-matched to both the content and the age of the audience. They are colorful and appealing to the eye without being babyish or overly simple. There is enough to hold a child’s attention while the adult reads the entirety of the text, which, as a parent, I appreciate.
I was grateful to see that a diversity of faces is included in each book. Ethnicity, age and gender are all varied in a way that feels natural instead of forced, and I think that many different children will be able to see themselves in these books.
4. They’re the perfect gift for little ones. In addition to getting these books for our children, my husband and I have purchased several copies to give as gifts. They’ve become our go-to gift for baptisms, and with Easter coming up, I can’t think of a better opportunity to help grow a young child’s faith.
Our family has a tradition of including faith-filled books in our kids’ Easter baskets, and if these weren’t already on our shelves, the “Teeny Tiny Theology” books would be in baskets of our two youngest this year.
Every parent is familiar with the feeling of dread in the pit of their stomach when their child latches on to a lousy book. We’ve all been there, plowing through a tedious text combined with illustrations that do not inspire. And invariably, it’s the very book that our child wants and asks for on repeat.
I can confidently tell you that these books — all four of them — are not going to be that for you. You’ll appreciate reading these books as much as your child will love listening to them.
Colleen Pressprich is the author of “Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children” (OSV, $18.95). She writes from Michigan.