Sunday, July 21, 2013

Angel's Books ~ Children's Catholic Literature

It is not a moment too soon that good faith-filled juvenille fiction has hit the bookshelves.  Angel or Not? book series by Lori Diez are uplifting, unique books for third grade students and up.  These treasures highlight the lives of Angel Hennessey and her friends who attend Catholic school.   Lori Diez illustrates a lovely picture of Catholic life, for American culture that knows little about the Catholic faith and its blessings, but she also explores the reality of bullying.

Aspects of our Catholicity that readers will enjoy are Angel's loving, supportive family; her kind friends; prayer life; and her amazing teacher Sister Rita.   Children will read about how Catholic families live each day focused on what Jesus would do.  And, although the characters in Diez's books fall short of angelic behavior, because they are human, readers will discover the joy in trying.  They will also discover that prayer, Mass, family guidance, and Catholic teachings and traditions are blessings to help children and role models love Jesus and one another.

Although there are wonderful gifts associated with being Catholic, readers will also discover, through Angel or Not? books, that our heroine, Angel, is a very "normal" child.  Angel struggles with the class bully, getting a new teacher, innocent crushes and friends and family hurting.  Following her conscience, when it's tempting to do the wrong thing, is Angel's biggest struggle, which is something all children relate to.

Children growing up in Catholic families and/or attending Catholic schools will benefit from reading Mrs. Diez's books, too.  God willing, Catholic children may even be able to empathize with having a special teacher like Sister Rita.  What a breath of fresh air it is to read about a Sister who is fun, energetic and spiritual.  Anyone who has met Sisters, who teach, know that many are full of spunk and divine inspiration that is passed down to the children they teach.  Diez's characterization of Sister Rita was a literary gift that this mom could relate to, as I taught with many wonderful Sisters in Catholic schools.  I can only pray that today's Catholic children meet a "Sister Rita" in their childhood.

My nine year old is closest to the age I'd recommend Angel or Not? books.  Because Angel is a girl, he had a little difficulty understanding some of the relationships Angel acquired.  Young girls will grasp the girls' friendships well.   However, he related to the classroom bully, the Catholic traditions
Angel and her family celebrated  and Angel's brother, Anthony.  The content and vocabulary of Diez's books were perfectly matched to my son's reading abilities.

Speaking of vocabulary and content, another unique contribution Diez makes for readers is that she includes a word bank at the end of her books.  This addition enriches student's vocabulary.  For students studying their faith, a few of the words focus on the Catechism.  A mother of three, Lori Diez, also saw the importance of adding comprehension questions at the end of her books.  Finally, her grandest dream realized, Lori, contributes 75% of Angel's Books to Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay (an organization dedicated to foster children finding forever families).

Visit to learn more about this wonderful organization that means so much to Lori and her family.

And to find out more about Angel's Books: Angel or Not? Angel for Sure! and Angel or Not? Ohhh so Not!!!!, click on the following link  Our family recommends both books.  

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