Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Very Ambitious Project … That Successfully Does What it Sets Out to Do!

A Review of Cay Gibson’s Catholic Mosaic – Living the Liturgical Year with Literature: An Illustrated Book Study for Catholic Children

By Mary C. Gildersleeve

Circle the date, May 19th! That will be the date Hillside Education releases Cay Gibson’s magnificent work titled, Catholic Mosaic – Living the Liturgical Year with Literature: An Illustrated Book Study for Catholic Children. The title clearly explains what this book is all about: Gibson took the twelve months of the year, wove in the liturgical celebrations and linked these to marvelous picture books – creating a mosaic of Catholic culture and beautiful literature.

But this book is much more than an annotated book list, although that is included too. Gibson gives suggested questions for you to discuss with your children. She gives suggested copywork – that is, quotes that children memorize or use for handwriting practice. She gives ideas for activities that will reinforce the meaning of the particular book. She helps families to truly live and embrace the wondrous Catholic traditions connected to feast days, liturgical celebrations and other things Catholic.

Some of the books described and linked in this book are Catholic illustrated classics – books like Weight of a Mass by Josephine Nobisso, Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi and St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges are extremely popular with many Catholic parents and children. But Gibson goes beyond the “Catholic classics” and mentions books like The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen (illustrated by Rachel Isadora) and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and how you can apply Catholic teachings to these books, giving your children a rich and lasting understanding of our Catholic culture.

In total, Gibson integrates FIFTY-TWO illustrated children’s books with the Catholic calendar and Catholic living. Books that cover the Mass, First Communion, various saints and important liturgical seasons are included. In addition, she suggests other books which may also work (but omits questions and activities linked to these “second-string” books some of which unfortunately are out-of-print or hard-to-find).

All the primary books are easily attainable from booksellers; in addition, books by popular authors like Tomie dePaola are usually available at public libraries so as not to strain your book budget too much. However, after seeing these books, you might want to have good copies for your home library. Gibson has selected books not only for the meaning in their words, but also for the beauty of their illustrations. These books could easily be used as an art study in conjunction with the literature, religion and other subjects covered in these books.

Further resources that Gibson gives the reader are suggestions for creating and maintaining a “Liturgical Notebook” throughout the year – a memory scrapbook of this literature-based journey – as well as incorporating some of the traditional Catholic homeschool resources (for example, CHC’s A Year with God or Seton’s Art 1).

Run, don’t walk, to get a copy of this book. I know I sound effusive, but this book is remarkable in its ambitious objective which is stunningly successful. This is one of those homeschooling volumes that needs to be on every Catholic resource shelf – that is, when it’s not being used!

The plan is to launch the book at Family Centered Learning’s First Annual Conference in Pennsylvania the weekend of May 19th. Margot Davidson, owner of Hillside Education, will also start accepting web-based orders that day. Hillside Education (475 Bidwell Hill Road, Lake Ariel, PA 18436 – www.hillsideeducation.com) publishes this, as well as many other, Catholic-based study guides.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Thank you for the excellent review. I'll be looking forward to receiving my copy!