Our Family FAVE Book House
On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28, 2019, a fresh new way to invite children to say, “Jesus I trust in YOU!” emerged at Holy Infant Catholic Parish in Ballwin, MO. This spiritual secret weapon to protect and strengthen the souls of children, took a surprising form. This is a variation on the “Little Free Library” book houses that are popping up in many communities. But unlike the others, there is nothing random about this collection of books. This little house goes beyond building friendly community and encouraging good reading habits. It is a tiny little powerhouse of faith and virtue that is the result of years of preparation.
The unique beauty of the FAVE Book House is that it is a wonderful community project that can be duplicated at Catholic parishes and schools all across the United States. It is a special blessing for both the families whose children attend the parish school and also, importantly, for the families whose children attend public school.
Over three years ago, Virtue Works Media Ministry founder, Cathy Gilmore teamed up with friend and fellow parishioner, Rita Adolphson, to collect excellent, fun-to-read Children’s books that affirm faith and model virtue. For the past two summers, Rita turned her van into a bookmobile for children to borrow virtue-rich books during summer break.
WHAT IS THE REST OF THE FAVE BOOK HOUSE STORY?
This tiny virtue library has been truly a broad cooperative effort. The house was designed, constructed, and painted through the efforts of Holy Infant Parish teen Boy Scout, Matt Van Vooren. With the help of his family, he spent months coordinating, planning and executing the project. Parish Priests, and Deacon Andrew Klein, participated in blessing the house, the books, and all the children who would enjoy them.
A parish group of American Heritage Girls helped prepare the books. Each book was covered with contact paper and reading level stickers. The Stickers were placed on the outside spine in one color for Primary readers and a different color for middle grade readers. For Holy Infant, the parish/school colors of green and yellow were chosen.
Last but not least, the Virtue Works Media Prayer Power Team and the Holy Infant Legion of Mary have supported this Virtue Literacy effort for over two years. These stalwart prayer warriors have been praying for all the children and families who will ever be touched by the VIRTUE LITERACY ministry or its virtue message.
BREAKING THROUGH MISCONCEPTIONS
The “Catholic author only” aspect of this mini-library is the MOST distinctive feature. There are two barriers that often interfere with families consuming and appreciating virtue-rich reading and media from Catholic sources. The first is that people assume that if something was created from a Catholic source, it may likely be a poorly crafted variation of an educational text. The second common assumption is that content that is considered virtuous will be sappy or boring. While the FAVE Book House stories are the works of Catholic authors…they are NOT educational, and while virtuous, they are FUN-TO-READ. Here is a LINK to a free downloadable list of the Virtue-recommended books included in a FAVE Book House. Discover for yourself even more great Catholic authors, many of whom are involved with the Catholic Writer’s Guild and who are on the Catholic Teen Books team.
The hope is that young children who begin life reading FAVE books will consider virtue-rich reading from Catholic sources to be fun, normal, and recalled as some of their favorites.
READERS INVITED TO BE VIRTUE SPOTTERS
Each FAVE Book house book has a Virtue Spotter Book Plate attached to the inner front cover. There are two styles: Primary Grade books have binoculars, Middle Grade Books have sunglasses. The book plates invite readers to become “virtue spotters” to look for virtue in what they read, watch, or listen to. A list of 30 Everyday Virtues with brief descriptions is included. For families with younger children, the list is a “cheat sheet” for mom and dad to bring virtue into normal conversation with a bedtime story.
Children can be virtue spotters in two ways:
First: To “spot” or look for virtue in the reading and media they consume.
Second: To be a “spotter,” like a fitness trainer who helps someone else exercise and build a new skill. The skill in this case is…VIRTUE!
Families who use social media and want to have fun being “virtue spotters” can use the hashtag #VirtueWorks when you spot titles that are virtue-rich that everyone else’s families might want to enjoy!
Best of all, the children are excited about the FAVE Book House because the books are easily accessible and mom or dad can bring them over to select a book anytime. The children also find these stories endearing because many of them have Catholic characters and situations. One little girl enjoyed reading a Chime Travelers book because it was a fun story, but she commented that she especially liked it, “because the little girl in it wore a Catholic school uniform like me.” We long for effective ways to affirm Catholic identity of our children, teens, parishes, and schools. It just might be as simple as reading great Catholic stories.
To find out how your parish could create a FAVE Book House, contact Cathy at email@example.com.