In past blog posts, we have offered ideas of picture books to share, chapter books to read together, and Bible stories to ponder as our children prepare to go to sleep. Bedtime is also a time when we can share stories from the lives of the saints. By sharing the stories of people who have fought the good fight to the end, we introduce our children to real-life “superheroes” whose life they can ponder as they fall asleep, then emulate when they awake. The saints’ life on earth was amazing, sometimes even miraculous, because of their love for God. We must share their stories with our children! Our children will not hear these stories or know what God can do in/through someone unless we teach them about the saints.
Of course, many saints endured terrible trials and tortures. We do not want to frighten our children at bedtime, so we must be mindful of each child and what they can handle, and thereby carefully choose the saints whose life stories we share. Stories of the saints’ martyrdom may not be appropriate for us to share with our very young children at bedtime. But our children need to know that sometimes people choose to follow God even if it threatens their life. So, stories of martyred saints should be shared (with careful wording), with older children, keeping in mind what our children can handle. It is our job as parents to introduce our children to the saints in a way that conveys their devotion to God and His work in their lives. Let us do diligently, but with sensitivity to each child in our family.
We know that we should be sharing the lives of the saints with our children and that we need to carefully choose/word the stories that we share. So, how do we find saints’ stories to read or tell to our children? Our survey about bedtime rituals asked the participants if and how they select saint stories to share with their children at bedtime. Here are their answers:
- We follow a daily calendar of the saints that includes a short reading about one. (29%)
- We listen to a podcast about the saint of the day. (4%)
- We do not read about the lives of the saints. (42%)
The survey respondents who do share stories from the lives of the saints with their children offered the following resources/ways that they select which stories to share:
- “My kids pull a book out of the shelf where we keep the children’s books about the faith.”
- “We read about saints from time to time but not consistently.”
- “books of saints for children”
- “I have a lot of children’s books on the Saints and I read from those.”
- “We choose any from our collection of lives of the saints.”
- “child chosen or daily recommendation”
- “Our kids have their favourites and we introduce new saints once in awhile with a new book about them.”
- “We read that day’s entry from Prologue of Ohrid, including all the saints of the day, homily, reflection, contemplation, and hymn of praise.”
- “I have a few books for children about saints, which I read to them from a few times a week.”
- “Sometimes I research and read about a particular saint relevant to our family life. I find the troparian and repeat it three times.”
- “We read from a book called “Prologue of Ohrid,”
- “We talk about lives of the saints, but we have a baby.”
- “We read the prologue.”
- “saints we have picture books or icons of”
- “some daily, some random”
- “whatever book is closest to hand”
- “We read the prologue or child books about the saints.”
- “When we do, it is the Saint of the day, looked up online.”
- “Randomly [selected saint stories] from our children’s library”
What other resources have you found helpful when you share the stories of the saints with your children? Please comment below and share them with the community!
Holy saints, please intercede for our salvation and for the salvation of our children!
Here are some resources that we have found helpful:
Ancient Faith Ministries’ podcast “Saint of the Day” (http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/saintoftheday ) offers a short reading each day featuring the life of one of the saints commemorated on that day, as well as an extensive archive of stories of others saints commemorated each day.
Our AODCE Pinterest page offers the following ever-growing board that includes links to saint stories and/or ideas of ways to help children: https://www.pinterest.com/aodce/saints/
These (free!) printable activity books will help your family learn about saints (and the animals that served them; those commemorated in the Litiya prayers; those that can help in times of trouble; and those from North America) through stories and related activities: http://dce.oca.org/page/activity-books
Paterikon For Kids offers beautifully illustrated, child-sized tiny books by various authors, including saint stories and stories from the Bible. Available individually or the entire set (at a significant discount). Also available in 12 other languages. http://orthodoxchildrensbooks.com/eng/index.php/Paterikon-for-Kids-Set-1-20/English-Paterikon-for-Kids-1-20-Set/flypage-ask.tpl.html
Little Falcons is an Orthodox Christian children’s magazine published quarterly. Each issue has a theme and includes articles, activities, and stories based on that theme. It also includes at least one story from the life of a saint, often written as a play so that several readers can share the story together. http://www.littlefalcons.net
New Martyr Magazine is a new quarterly Orthodox Christian children’s magazine. Each issue includes illustrations by children, stories, puzzles, photographs that help children learn more about the faith, and a story about a saint. http://newmartyrpublishing.com
2017 Daily Lives, Miracles, and Wisdom of the Saints Calendar: This spiral-bound calendar offers the references for daily scripture readings, a brief story of one of the saints of the day, a list of all the day’s saints, and a quote from a church father. http://www.livesofthesaintscalendar.com
This blog post offers many links to online resources for stories from the lives of the saints: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2009/02/lives-of-saints.html