I have always been the kind of person who did my research. You know, the person who wants to look at all options in depth before making a decision? The person who wants to know a topic inside out? That’s me! And, when it comes to my faith and my kids, I am the same way.
Over the years I have read and researched A LOT about raising children in the Orthodox faith. Some resources were fantastic, others not so much. So, today I wanted to share my top 10 favorites with you in the hope that you will find them helpful in your parenting journey.
First, a couple of quick notes:
- The best resource available to you is your priest. Your priest knows you and your family personally, your spiritual lives, and your daily struggles and joys. With any parenting question that you have, your priest will be the best source of wisdom and encouragement.
- In addition to your priest, the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition will provide you with a wealth of spiritual insight as you raise your children in the faith.
With that said, in no particular order, here are my picks for the:
Best Resources for Orthodox Parents
1. Children’s Bible
My youngest son’s godfather gave him this Children’s Bible Reader for his Name Day, and I like that it is written and approved by the Orthodox Church with illustrations that look like icons. Many children’s Bibles that I have seen and even used with my children can have a slight Protestant bent in the retelling of the stories. Also, the Jesus shown in those illustrations generally looks nothing like the icons of Christ that children see at home and church, which can create a bit of a disconnect. We read one story from the Children’s Bible Reader each night after Evening Prayers, and it is one of the highlights of the day.
2. Children’s Liturgy Guide
There are several fantastic books for children that walk them through the Divine Liturgy. For younger children I recommend The Child’s Guide to Divine Liturgy from Ancient Faith Publishing. It has excellent illustrations that help kids follow along with and mark the key parts of the Divine Liturgy. By knowing what is coming up and what to look for, younger children can participate more fully. (Check out more tips for Engaging Children in Church.)
3. Blueprints for the Little Church by Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker
I was super excited to receive a pre-release copy of this book (look for a review later this week!). Blueprints for the Little Church is a practical guide for Orthodox families that helps them integrate the faith and life of the church into their homes. It focuses on three major elements of the faith: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I found many helpful tips and ideas that I can implement into our little church right away. A fantastic resource for Orthodox Christians!
4. Ancient Faith Radio’s Raising Saints Podcast
I love listening to podcasts while I do chores around the house or drive to work. One of my favorites is Raising Saints by Elissa Bjeletich. Each episode focuses on an element of faith and practical ways to help your child understand it. Elissa is also the director of a large church school program, so many of her examples and tips can be used in the classroom as well.
5. St. John Chrysostom’s On Marriage and Family Life
If you are interested in reading more on the Orthodox Christian view of marriage, St. John Chrysostom– a fourth-century saint whose sermons still pack a powerful punch today–wrote extensively about this in On Marriage and Family Life. If you are looking for a book on marriage to read together this year, I highly recommend it! In addition, his advice on child-rearing has some direct applications to life in the modern world.
6. Heaven Meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts by John Kosmas Skinas
I love this beautiful book that explains each of the twelve great feasts of the Church. With icons, hymns, Scriptures, and quotes from the Fathers, and traditions explained, your family will use this resource for years to come. My oldest son especially loves the explanations of the iconography of the feast. We have both learned so much and are able to appreciate the festal icons even more.
7. Following a Sacred Path: Raising Godly Children by Elizabeth White
Our priest asked each family in our church to read Elizabeth White’s book in preparation for monthly discussions on faith and parenting. White has been a Montessori teacher and a supervisor for her church’s Sunday school program. She brings a discovery-based, Montessori-style approach to the topic of child-rearing that I found quite intriguing.
8. Ancient Faith Radio’s Let Us Attend Program
Each week Ancient Faith radio puts out a podcast with the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading. There are two versions: one with the story retold in simpler terms for younger children, and one read for older children. There are also questions for discussion at the end of the podcast. We try to listen to the Gospel at least twice before attending Divine Liturgy on Sunday. This helps our children to listen more closely on Sunday and to better understand the homily.
9. The Ascetic Lives of Mothers by Annalisa Boyd
Motherhood brings a new set of joys and challenges to a woman’s life. Annalisa Boyd has created a beautiful prayer book that provides prayers for mothers for a myriad of situations that occur in daily life. If your soul needs spiritual refreshment, a vehicle to help you pray, or even just encouragement to know that you are not alone, this is the book for you.
10. Orthodox Prayer Book
Finally, every Orthodox household needs a prayer book in its icon corner to help guide Evening and Morning Prayers. Our family uses this version from Holy Trinity Monastery. Small and compact yet holding 400 pages of prayers, we use it daily.
If you would like more inspiration as you raise your children in the Orthodox faith, please follow my Facebook page. Each day I share posts and tips of my own as well as those of people much wiser than me. Join the the community and discussion! You can also follow me on Pinterest where I post many resources for Orthodox parents.
What are your favorite Orthodox resources?