I’ve looked high and low for years for the Catholic equivalent of the Bible story books I had as a child.

It’s not that I don’t like the ones I had as a child; it’s that I want to share the delight of Tobit, the wonder of Sirach, and the adventure of Maccabees with my children.  I want to see the amazing illustrations that would be possible, use dramatic voices, talk about the tales long after the book’s closed.

My search is now over.

Last week, Heidi Hess Saxton’s latest book, My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories, arrived on my porch.  Lisa Hendey was dead-on when she called it “the perfect faith formation tool.”

My kids piled on the couch beside me when I sat down to take a look at it.  We oohed and ahhed over the beautiful illustrations, and I had a chance to read Bible stories that I haven’t found anywhere else.

I had to wait until they were distracted with something else before I look at it more closely.  My two-year-old wanted to carry the book around (it’s that beautiful) and my four-year-old insisted it was a schoolbook.  Whether it was on my desk or in a pile, they seemed to find it and claim it.  I finally resorted to hiding it so that I could have it to myself for a few days.  Luckily, we had Christmas stuff to keep them busy, or I’m sure they would have been asking me about it.

Isn’t that just what you want with a book like this?

A few of my favorite features:

  • The color coding: There’s a bar at the top that indicates whether you’re in an Old Testament, a deuterocanonical (those stories I mention above; the ones that are uniquely Catholic), or a New Testament story.
  • The extras: With each story, there’s a Going Deeper section, Special Words, Did You Know?, and, my favorite, the Quote of the Day.
  • The writing: There’s no doubt, these stories are classic and timeless.  I remember them from my childhood, but the way they’re written makes them captivating, all over again.  I can’t wait to wade through this book during our story times.

My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories is a treasury for every age.  Whether you’re looking for a gift for a family in your life or searching, as I did, for a Bible story book that includes those wonderful deuterocanonical stories of Tobit and Maccabees (and the others!), consider this book.  It’s topping my list of gifts to give in the coming years.

And I suspect it will also top my list of favorite books to curl up on the couch and read to my kids.

Updated: Heidi kindly pointed out, in the comments, that “though I wrote the introductions to each story, the stories themselves are straight from NRSV. So it’s a great way to get your family to read the Scriptures!  Copies are available at Amazon … Or you will soon be able to get autographed copies at my website. For now, if you’d like to be added to the list to be notified when it is available, send me a note at hsaxton@christianword.com.”  Well.  I stand corrected, though with no less delight than originally.  🙂