Books, DVD aim to ready preschoolers for learning Catholic faith

WASHINGTON – After nearly 30 years of teaching religious education to children ages 3 to 14, Peggy Olds of Willowbrook, Ill., was convinced of one thing.

Although parents spend a lot of time teaching their preschoolers their ABCs, numbers and other information needed to prepare them for first grade, she said, they don’t do the same to ready their children for learning the basics of their Catholic faith.

Ms. Olds hopes to fill that gap with her “Questions for God” series, which aims to tell salvation history in a way that children can learn and retain it as easily as their ABCs.

Through 10 books of 16 pages each and a 50-minute DVD, the series takes on children’s questions from “God, Who Are You?” through “God, How Did Jesus Save Us?” to “God, When Will We Be With You?”

Although written primarily for 3- to 6-year-Ms. Olds, the books can be used with children up to sixth grade, as well as with others who learn best from simple concepts, such as the developmentally disabled, children or adults with English as a second language and the elderly, Ms. Olds said.

Audrey Merschman, a longtime friend of Ms. Olds, prepared the watercolor illustrations for each book.

In a recent interview with Ave Maria Radio, Ms. Olds said the series also can help adults learn along with their children.

“So many parents did not receive good catechesis over the past 40 years,” she said. “The DVD provides a simple family activity for learning together.”

The series has received an imprimatur and “nihil obstat” – which grant official permission – from the Archdiocese of Chicago and a “declaration of conformity” from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Each book also includes one or more of the main church prayers – the Our Father, Sign of the Cross, Act of Contrition, Hail Mary and others – that the children are encouraged to learn by repeated recitation.

In a study guide for the series, Ms. Olds said the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is especially apt in a society prone to seeking out superheroes.

“The superheroes in movies and on TV are not real – St. Michael is,” she wrote. “He is a powerful ally for the young child who faces so many fears. … Comic-book heroes can’t measure up.

“Encourage learning this prayer early and encourage the child to call St. Michael whenever he/she feels shaky,” she added.

The DVD and book series combination costs $54.95 or the DVD alone costs $14.95. Orders may be placed by phone at: (866) 774-2001, or online at: www.questionsforgodbooks.com.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.