R is for Rosary – a Catholic Family Alphabet is truly a collaborative effort involving my spiritual companion Sr. Patt, my critique group, art designer Lorien, business partner Debra LaPlante, and the Holy Spirit. Yes, I believe that! I remember how I felt after writing the text on the R page. I reread it and wondered where those words came from. Surely the Holy Spirit guided me. When it came to deciding how to illustrate the book, the Spirit was present again. I had just finished writing about St. Kateri Tekakwitha and was shutting the computer down when my photo library opened up. I clicked on a thumbnail (I have over 20,000 images in my library) and it was the photo of the icon of St. Kateri that I took at the San Carlos Mission on the Apache reservation. It was then that I had the idea to illustrate the book with images of sacred art. And to think that this book would still be packed away in a crate under the table in my office if it wasn’t for the 4th graders at Ss. Simon and Jude. I was visiting the school with my book D is for Desert and they asked if I was working on any new books. When I told them about R is for Rosary, they gasped as if I was writing this book for each one of them. And in a way, I did. I went home that day and started on it. I unpacked my research, wrote (and rewrote) the manuscript, and photographed sacred art wherever I could find it including Ireland. Upon completion, I dedicated the book to the students at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School in Phoenix for inspiring me to finish it.
Each letter in the alphabet represents a facet of the Catholic faith. A rhyme, text and sacred art illustration along with a prayer written by a child complete the page. As Father Herb at Our Lady of Joy Catholic Church said, “R is for Rosary is a treasure for parents and children alike. The format is clear and concise. Every child learns the ABCs but these ABCs are special. This book teaches the gifts of our Catholic Faith to the young and will refresh the understanding of adults.”
Following the alphabet letters is a section called Family Faith Formation with stories about our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and ideas on how families can grow their faith. The book is interactive with places for photos, a family written prayer and even a child’s drawing of heaven.
Fr. Peter Kirwin, O.F.M., the rector at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels at the Franciscan Renewal Center shared this, “Barbara Gowan has brought together a stunning array of beautiful illustrations and meaningful descriptions of essential elements of our Roman Catholic faith in a unique manner to inspire all who read it. Students bring to each letter of the alphabet a prayer to help the reader focus spiritually on its meaning. To enjoy this book is to be filled with joy celebrating the gift of a relationship shared with our loving God and with each other.”
I am available for school visits and family literacy nights focusing on the creation of this book. Students at Ss. Simon & Jude brainstormed ideas for each letter and then learned about the writing process and the sacred art chosen for each topic.
R is for Rosary is the first selection in the Catholic Kids Book Club. Members join for three months at a time and receive a carefully selected book for their child based on the liturgical calendar. The theme of the CKBC is “faith formation through story.” To read reviews of the book selections and to sign up for the CKBC, go to the website www.CatholicKidsBookClub.com. And don’t forget to like Catholic Kids Book Club on Facebook!
CKBC is my latest adventure in literacy. Together with friend and librarian Debra LaPlante, we’ve started a new type of book club. We believe that the family is a child’s first teacher of faith. A natural way to start a child on the journey of faith formation is through story. We’ve selected outstanding picture books as the monthly selections for CKBC. Many will follow the Church calendar in theme. Parent information and ideas for family activities are sent with each book. The first book is R is for Rosary. We hope you will join the Catholic Kids Book Club today and experience the joy of faith formation through story!
Help spread the word about R is for Rosary and the Catholic Kids Book Club. Please share it with your church community. Contact me for a press release for your diocesan newspaper.