Archive for Books

The Story of the Bible – New from TAN Homeschool!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In the spring, TAN Homeschool (an imprint of the Catholic publisher TAN/Neumann Press/St. Benedict Press/etc) contacted me about helping them launch TAN Homeschool.  In addition to writing the occasional article for their new homeschool blog, they sent me several items from their new (edited reprint) of The Story of the Bible – Old Testament.  I received full version of the text, the audio CD’s, the test bank and the teacher’s guide as well as a sample of the video lectures and activity book.

Story of the Bible TAN Homeschool

I need to start by saying that I *LOVE* that this book has the Catholic viewpoint.  I never knew that there was a Catholic view point or what it was or how it was different from others.  Until I reviewed an Apologia science book that asserted dinosaurs were on the ark.  WHAT?!?   I kid you not.  And friends of ours totally buy into this too.  Can I just tell you how happy I was to read this in the first chapter,

…It divides up the whole work of His creation into six day. However, the word “day,” as used in the Bible, does not necessarily mean a period of twenty-four hours. Each of the “days” of creation may have been a long, long time…

…His purpose was to teach all people, everywhere and until the end of time, that all things were made by God, and without Him, there would be nothing.

Can I get an Amen?  Well, now that you know where MY biases lie, I will share more about The Story of the Bible.   The Story of the Bible BOOK is a text book intended for middle school students.  It is a trade paper back size book that is just text.  It’s broken up by headings, but it is simply text.  It’s suitable for a read-aloud for elementary students, which is how we have been using it, during our morning tea time.  You can listen to an audio sample of The Story of the Bible – Old Testament; it’s the text read word for word.

The purpose of using The Story of the Bible is to familiarize your student with the Bible and its stories, events and meanings from a Catholic perspective.  The audio CD’s, as well as the teacher’s guide and activity book, are geared for the younger student, from K-2nd or 3rd (in my opinion).  The audio CD’s are very well done and have pleasing musical interludes, sound effects and a narrator who does a great job of making the next interesting.


The teacher’s guide contains activities for the younger students that help bring home the messages in the text that may be a little over their heads.  It includes questions for review, narration activities (any CM folks will like this),  map activities (using the activity book), craft projects, science projects, snacks and more.  It even references all the applicable activity pages and their types so you know before you get it out.  The activity book is meant to be used by one student (i.e. you should not make copies), but since the activities range so widely from coloring pages &booklets, to maps, word searches and crossword puzzles, you could probably use one book for two students who are a few years apart, which is what I will do for my almost 5 & 7-1/2 year olds.


For the older students, there is a video lecture series, that is unfortunately, a little dry in my opinion.  The production value is high — it looks professional, but I can’t see it holding the attention of a middle school student.  You can watch a sample of The Story of the Bible video lecture series at the TAN Homeschool page. In addition, there is a test book that you can use to test student’s comprehension of the contents.  Like the activity book, this does not provide rights for making copies so you will want one for each student who will use it.


The Story of the Bible was originally written in 1931 and has been revised and expanded to two books — Old Testament and New Testament.  The Old Testament has 22 chapters and the New Testament text has 23.  Right now, you can only get text, audio CD’s and test books.  The complete kit, as well as the activity book, teacher’s guide, and video series are on pre-order.   I have to let you know that I think these materials are super high quality. So high quality that even though I received some of the Old Testament materials for free, I pre-ordered the OT Activity book AND the entire New Testament kit.   When it arrives, I will even post a pic :).

If you have been searching for a good Bible course for your Catholic one-room schoolhouse, The Story of the Bible is a fabulous pick!  It includes resources appropriate from Kindergarten through Middle School using one text.  You can preorder yours from TAN Homeschool and if you sign up for their mailing list, you will get a coupon for 30% off your first order — look for the banner that says “Sign up Your School and Save!” in the upper right hand corner.


What are your favorite Catholic texts for homeschooling?

Jen S.


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A Comprehensive Bible with References from the Catholic Catechism and more!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!

If you read, you may have seen my love for the new Didache Bible (NSRV). If not, no worries. The Midwest Theological Forum sent me a copy of the NABRE version of the Didache bible, too.

Didache Review at Happy Little Homemaker

The NABRE edition of The Didache Bible has all the features I adored in the NSRV:

  • Hardcover
  • Ribbons for marking pages for easy reading
  • A summary of the content in each book of the bible
  • Chronologies of the old & New Testament
  • 20+ Full color maps
  • The APOLOGETICS PAGES (yes, they deserve all caps. I will not apologize.)
  • Indexes of said apologetics pages by subject and title
  • References to the biblical text as it relates to the catechism of the Catholic Church
  • References from dozens of other church documents & encyclicals

Didache Bible Maps

Before I get too carried away with my (type A) methodical stats & features, let me tell you why I love The Didache Bible.

I am a mom. Of littles. And a book worm. The kind of person who actually considered getting a dozen divergent associate degrees because there were so many interesting things to learn.

Do you see the problem?

Small children are intensely needy. This is not the season of my life for in-depth bible studies or outside classes. Heck, I am just trying to remember to pray and be thankful on a regular basis and read more than the Sunday mass readings!

NABRE Features

I love that one single book contains everything I need to dig deep into God’s work without me having to have a table and extra books. The NABRE version has two features that help you dig a little deeper that the NSRV doesn’t.

Scriptural references

Certain passages in the bible (a verse about Noah & the flood, for example), are mentioned in other places. In the example above, it’s mentioned in the books of Job, Matthew, and 2 Peter. The scriptural references tell you where to find them all.

Didache Version Comparison

Footnotes from the NAB

I happen to have a copy of the NAB (St. Joseph edition). It’s not the revised edition, but I was able to make a few comparisons. The introductory material for the old & new testaments as well as each book are included and are formatted much better than in mine. The footnotes are also there, but there are equally as many additions as deletions. I’m guessing those are due to my having the NAB and this being the NABRE.

In some cases there are also additional footnotes relating to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and their biblical significance or origin.

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Which to pick?

If you are in need of a new bible (or even if you aren’t ;D), I would totally recommend the Didache bible. But which version?


Both are authentically Catholic Bibles. The NABRE translation is owned by the USCCB, making it ideal for keeping up with the bible readings. The NSRV translation is owned by Ignatius & is in a more conversational tone. Both translations of the bible itself hold the imprimatur & nihil obstat, ensuring that it’s suitable for use by faithful Catholics.

Each edition has pros and cons.

NSRV pros

– easy to understand wording
– smaller

Didache Features

NABRE pros

– more information about books
– additional references to the Catechism and church documents
– scriptural cross-references
– same translation as lectionary (Mass readings)

In summary, The Didache Bible is my favorite bible. I have looked at dozens of bibles, both Protestant and Catholic. For extra study, history, and the fullness of Catholic teaching, The Didache Bible is a fabulous resource. Honestly, if you only have one bible in your home, I would pick this one.

Which translation would you pick?

Jen S.

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Feast of St. Peter {Saint Picture Book Club}

So today (June 29) is the feast of St. Peter (and St. Paul). As usual, I chose a picture book for the saint picture book club that is easy to get via Amazon. I didn’t get this up in time for you to order it last minute, but you may want it anyway.

Saint Peter Books Activities & Recipes

Books about Saint Peter

Peter, Apostle of Jesus, is another joint offering between Ignatius & Magnificat. They are beautiful books and buying this one has caused me to add the rest of the series to my Amazon cart MULTIPLE times.

From the series, The Life of a Saint, this story of Saint Peter is divided into 3 parts. The first is the story of how Jesus called him, the second is the story of Jesus & Peter before and after the crucifixion, and the last is about Pentacost and the early church.


The pictures are beautifully illustrated and the story is masterfully told. It doesn’t feel like the story as told in the bible, but as a beloved children’s story, even telling s bit of Peter’s childhood. It’s lovely and approachable. It really helps me to know Peter’s story as being separate from the rest of the Apostles.

If you are interested in knowing more about St. Peter, the book Our Holy Father, the Pope, has a lot of information about Saint Peter, the Popes & the Papacy. It is also a joint Ignatius/Magnificat offering. Honestly, you just can’t go wrong with them.


If you are looking for an easy summer activity to help cement the story of Saint Peter & the Papacy, try one of these:

Prayer Rock

If you have older children, go to a beach or stream and find a smooth rock to keep in your pocket. Use it as a reminder to pray whenever you touch it. Feeling crafty? Paint it! What does this have to do with St. Peter? “You shall be called Peter (Latin for rock) and on this rock I will build my church.”


Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade before Christ called him to be a fisher of men. Go fishing and experience the frustration of being up empty nets or the excitement of having them filled.

Popes cover

Pope Guess Who

Monica @ Arma Dei has catholic-ified a ton of games. If you are into games, try her version of Guess Who using images of the popes. It’s free if you join her email list. $5, if you’d rather fork up some cash :).


Personally, my favorite way to celebrate saints days is food-inspired because I have to feed them at least 16 times a day anyway:). These three ideas are at the top of my list from easy to divine!

Easy – St. Peter’s Fishing Net Chex Mix @ Catholic Inspired
Quick & Easy Fish @ Kitchen Stewardship

Divine – Polish Papal Cream Cake

This was apparently Pope St. JPII’s favorite food and it looks crazy easy. Puff pastry, a homemade custard & powdered sugar. I wish I would have bought the pastry I saw Saturday. Never ignore the urge to buy puff pastry in the store; it could be a nudge from the Holy Spirit! :).


Are you going to celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul? Do you have any favorite traditions?


Jen S.

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Summer Book Basket

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links; thanks for your support!


It’s been awhile since I’ve shared our book basket selections. With the kids playing outside so much, our read-aloud time has dwindled. As it should!

But it’s really my favorite way to reconnect with them so we do a “tea time” in mid-morning or mid-afternoon (or both!). We have a snack, read & pray before going back to work & play.

summer book basket

This summer, we have been reading a few things. Keep in mind that I don’t read every book every day. We usually get to 3 or 4 before the snack has been consumed & the natives are restless. They are 7, 4, and 2.

Catholic Resources


The Story of the Bible – Old Testament
We received this to review from TAN Homeschool and we have been enjoying it. It’s a nice mix of bible story with Catholic commentary on the significance of the story. It’s intended for older children, but the accompanying teacher’s guide has extra activities. We haven’t done any yet, but it’s summer. I did pre-order the full New Testament set, though.

saints for young readers cover

Saints for Young Readers – Vol 1 (Jan-June)
Our oldest reads a saint profile to us at least once a week or so. It’s good practice and she reads aloud better than some 20 year olds :).

jesus calling cover

Jesus Calling for Little Ones
This was so awesome, I bought Jesus Calling for me. Great little book! But short. We already finished it :).


Growing With Jesus
Still plodding through this one. We really do like it, but since we don’t do it daily…


book house vol 2

My Book House – Vol. 2

This gets great reviews at the Read-Aloud Revival FB group and it turns out, I had it. Well, most of it. I hadn’t cracked one open though, but we are loving the stories & poems. Fun stuff!

linguistic development cover

Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization

This one I dug out because the girls were waxing poetic one day about swinging. I started to recite they part I knew and my younger daughter instantly ran inside to get one of our picture books with the poem. I decided to try having them memorize it and both enthusiastically agreed. Who knew?


safety comics cover

KidPower Safety Comics
I’m so worthless about teaching them safety stuff but my middle child loves this book. Summer is a great time to concentrate on safe people, getting help & tricky adults.

laying rails children

Laying Down the Rails for Children

So I’ve gone back to CM/classical homeschooling and am frustrated beyond belief with being a broken record / slave. I was able to listen to Sonya Shafer’s talk on this from the state convention and jumped for joy when I heard they published a “reader” of sorts to go with the character training. I bought it that day and dug out the book. Her talk really made it click with me and we are starting with Obedience for the remainder of summer :).



So those are the mom picks for read-aloud time this summer. They are the more educational and/or less twaddle-y ones that they would not pick up on their own, but enjoy nonetheless :).

Do you pick books, let them pick, or both for your read-aloud time?

Jen S.

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Jesus Calling For Kids {Tommy Mommy Review & Giveaway}

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links; thanks for your support!


I don’t know about you, but I always grew up assuming God loved me, but it hasn’t been until recently that I started to feel like there was a relationship there.

Jesus Calling for Little Ones Giveaway

I know I am no saint so when Tommy Mommy sent me Jesus Calling for Little Ones, I was really excited to have a devotional written as if God is actually talking to them.  And shows them a bible verse they can read or memorize that shows them that.

This was my first encounter with a Jesus Calling book and it’s vague enough to apply to a lot of things but specific enough to get to your heart.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I loved these devotions so much that I bought the original one for me and a big kid version for my older daughter.


Jesus Calling for Little Ones is a padded board book with 13 devotions and is appropriate for ages 0-4, but I would guess that 3-5 might get it more.  It would be ideal for early exposure, though.  If you’ve never seen a Jesus Calling book, I really recommend them.  They are simply beautiful!

If you’d like one for a child in you life, use the widget below!

Please note that a comment answering the question is mandatory.  Thanks for you for your integrity folks!

Good luck!

Jen S.

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