Several fantastic resources have recently come to our attention. Some of them have been around for a few years, while others are recently published, but all of them were new to us and we consider them well worth sharing! Here they are:
- The SuperHolies series of books by Mireille Mishriky includes three books from 2016 to date, with more to come: Philo and the SuperHolies, Philo and the Patience SuperHoly, and Philo, Rose, and the Joy SuperHoly. Each book explores the “SuperHolies” (the virtues mentioned in the Scriptures as the fruit of the Holy Spirit), which can be “activated” in our life when we ask for God’s help. Each book tells about a time when Philo (a Coptic Orthodox boy) finds himself in a tough spot, remembers the SuperHolies, and then prays by making the sign of the cross. This activates the “SuperHolies” in his life and helps him respond as he should!
Philo and the SuperHolies introduces Philo to the SuperHolies and offers him the opportunity to activate the Kindness SuperHoly when he unexpectedly meets up (again!) with a neighborhood bully.
Philo and the Patience SuperHoly tells about one time when Philo was feeling impatient during liturgy at his Coptic parish, and how activating the Patience SuperHoly helps him not just during the service, but throughout the remainder of the day!
Philo, Rose, and the Joy SuperHoly follows Philo to the hospital early one summer when he falls and breaks his arm. He laments all the summer fun that he will have to miss because of his cast. His new friend Rose (who has a heart condition) encourages Philo to activate the Joy SuperHoly in his life; demonstrates her own Joy SuperHoly in the way that she lives; and gives Philo ideas of ways to rejoice in the midst of his suffering.
- Love & Joy Coloring Book by Draw Near Designs, copyrighted 2017, is a child-sized (or purse sized!) coloring book with 25 spreads featuring saints of the Orthodox Church and a quote from/about each.
- Beautiful Things: An Orthodox Coloring Book for Children, illustrated by Megan Elizabeth Gilbert, was just published in 2018 by Ancient Faith Publishing. It features 64 pages of illustrations to color or activities to complete that are based on beautiful things that we learn about in the Church.
Find the Philo books here: https://www.mireillemishriky.com/books/
Find Love & Joy here: https://amazon.com/Love-Joy-Coloring-Book-Gann/dp/1977981887
Find Beautiful Things here: http://store.ancientfaith.com/beautiful-things-an-orthodox-coloring-book-for-children/
Read on to find more about each resource, as well as offer a few suggestions of how to use them with your family:
The Philo/SuperHolies books offer a story-based way to help children think about the virtues of peace, love, joy, kindness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – the fruit of the Spirit of God. Each book stands well on its own, but in our opinion, they work best as a series. In each book, Philo learns how to demonstrate a fruit of the Spirit, after asking for God’s help.
Philo and the SuperHolies offers families a chance to learn and talk about the “SuperHolies,” the personification of virtues which author Mireille Mishriky has created for the virtues which are the fruit of the Spirit. Each SuperHoly is briefly explained in this book, along with a very realistic example of how it can help us to live a truly Orthodox life. The SuperHolies are introduced in the context of a story about Philo and a neighborhood bully. Philo gets to test out the power of the Kindness SuperHoly when that bully shows up in a place where Philo least expected to meet him. Not at all “preachy,” this cleverly educational book will be very helpful to Orthodox parents who want a hands-on way to discuss the application of virtues with their children. The superhero qualities of the SuperHolies will help all of us want to have them “activated” in our life!
After reading Philo and the SuperHolies, ask each family member to tell which SuperHoly they like the best, and explain why. Invite family members to tell of another family member who does a good job of activating a SuperHoly in their life, and which SuperHoly that is. Encourage each person to think of one SuperHoly that they often fail to activate, remember how Philo’s grandma introduced that one, and say a prayer to ask God’s help to “activate” that SuperHoly the next time you need it!
Philo and the Patience SuperHoly tells the story of one Sunday when Philo is looking forward to a family barbecue after church. He finds himself feeling very impatient during liturgy at his Coptic parish. He tries so hard to be still and quiet, but does not succeed. Activating the Patience SuperHoly by praying with the sign of the Cross helps Philo during the remainder of the Divine Service and even throughout the rest of the day!
Philo’s Patience SuperHoly offers him a variety of ideas of ways to be patient during liturgy. Some of them may be helpful to your family, as well! After reading this story, talk together about which of these ideas work well for your family, share additional ideas that you may have which are not included in this book, then pray that God will help each of you be patient and focus as you help to “do the work of the people” at each liturgy!
Philo, Rose, and the Joy SuperHoly offers each reader the chance to measure how well we are activating the Joy SuperHoly in our own life. Are we more like Philo, lamenting all he’ll miss during summer vacation in the four weeks he has his cast after breaking his arm? Or are we more like Rose, born with a heart condition that requires her to spend much of her life in the hospital, but whose very disposition radiates gratitude and joy? In the story, Rose gently encourages Philo to activate the Joy SuperHoly in his own life, and then she gives him ideas of ways to rejoice in the midst of his suffering.
After reading this book, talk with your family about it. Do you agree with Rose that “Thankful people are always joyful?” What examples can you give to backup your answer? Invite family members to share stories of times when they have (or have not!) activated the Joy SuperHoly in their life, and what happened as a result. Does your family know anyone who is like Rose? Challenge each other to think of the things you CAN do, and be thankful to God for them, instead of focusing on the things you CAN’T do, the next time a struggle comes your way! Pray and ask God to help each of you to do a better job of choosing to live a life of joy and gratitude.
Love & Joy Coloring Book by Draw Near Designs is a beautiful little coloring book that is not just a coloring book! Each of the 25 spreads offers a simplified-icon-like drawing of a saint (or two), along with a quote related to them. We love the size of this book (it is a compact 5”x7”), the carefully drawn saints, and the wisdom of the quotes. Even long after the fun of coloring the book is finished, it will be useful because of the saints and quotes.
Consider purchasing multiple copies of this book. Then utilize each spread as a family devotional time. The family members who enjoy coloring can color the spread while others research the life of the saint depicted, and share what they learn. Finish the time by discussing the quote, how it was demonstrated by the saint, and how you can apply it to your own life. Pray and ask the saint to intercede on your family’s behalf, then ask God to help each of you emulate the saint’s life.
Beautiful Things: An Orthodox Coloring Book for Children, illustrated by Megan Elizabeth Gilbert, is a coloring book for all ages. There are a range of drawings from simple to complex, and all feature beautiful things about our Faith. The book is not just a coloring book: it also includes a variety of activity pages, as well as open-ended drawing pages.
This book would be a good way for parents and children (especially younger children) to wind down together after a busy day, coloring a page or two together while talking about the day while also talking a bit about the beautiful thing(s) they are coloring/doing in the book and how they relate to the Faith. It would also be a great activity book for families with long car rides to church (if those using it can color without getting carsick!). Or perhaps a family may wish to have this book on hand for use during Holy Week, to keep their focus on Christ and His Church even in their “down” time.