The Young People’s Book of Saints by Hugh Ross Williamson is a compilation of 63 saints of the Western Church from the first through the twentieth century. Originally published in 1960 by Hawthorne Books, it is now available as an ARKive Edition from Sophia Institute Press.
Starting at the year 58 A.D. with St. James the Greater and ending with St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in 1850, Williamson strings the stories along in chronological order, traveling from country to country and from the houses of kings to those of servants. He tells the essentials of their lives, not sparing the sorrowful details of their deaths, but in a matter-of-fact way that respects the way children can absorb this information. Many details and higher concepts are included that often are left out in more modern texts; the author realizes that children indeed are capable of understanding. The illustrations by Sheila Connelly are appealing to children and display the individual traits of each of the saints quite well.
I have taken my time in writing this review because I wanted to read it for myself, as well as present the material to children in different forums to see how they reacted to the stories within. I was pleased with the organization of its content, the selection of saints, and the way their stories were told. I used several of the stories in my Little Flowers group, which is a Catholic girls’ group composed of girls ages 5 through 12, in teaching about the saints and their virtues. I also had my eight-year-old son read some of the stories for his Blue Knights group, a Catholic boys’ group that also learns about saints and their virtues. The children both understood and enjoyed the stories.
Each chapter can be read on its own, as I did with my groups of children. When read from pages 1 through 239, however, this could be used as part of a Church History or World History course in a homeschool. The book would also make the perfect gift for a birthday, First Communion, or special achievement for a special child in your life.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. The company sent me the book in exchange for my honest review. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Young People’s Book of Saints.