I am a book NUT. I started collecting Pagan-y and Earth-y children’s books pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Wonder Boy. So we have quite a number of Pagan kids books. The subject seems to come up a lot with my other Pagan mom friends, and I am usually the one making recommendations and giving mini-reviews; so I figured this would be a fantastic topic to blog about!
I plan on making these into installments, so that I can talk extensively about 2 books at a time. Each time I will pick one book that is specifically a Pagan or Wiccan oriented book; and one book that is secular but explores pagan themes, promotes Earth stewardship, or teaches mythology from a archeological/historical standpoint.
The Pagan Book: ABC Book of Shadows by Katie Lydon Olivares and April Choi
I picked ABC Book of Shadows to kick off this series of blogs, because this is, in my opinion, the absolute BEST “my first Pagan book” out there. Hands down. To start with, it’s a board-book and extremely sturdy: easily handled not easily destroyed, it is incredibly bright and beautifully illustrated, and the words are all in poetic rhyming verse making it almost sing-song-y to ready through. These are literally the top 3 things to look for in a baby’s book, making this a really fantastic baby shower or Wiccaning gift for a new arrival.
- Generalism: This book is fantastically general about paganism and doesn’t site any specific tradition at all. This is the first thing I am mentioning because as you adventure out collecting books, you will sometimes find that you do not agree with some of the ideas expressed in them. Paganism is such a broad term, with such a vast number of different beliefs and traditions that there will be many books you find that just don’t jive with your family’s practice. ABC is probably not going to be one of those books. It does a fantastic job of explaining only base-concepts of Earth religions, and leaves out most of the specifics.
- Sabbats: Every Sabbat is mentioned and a very short little description is given of each that I find is pretty much in line with the commonly practiced meanings. For example: “O begins Ostara, for balance and Spring”. So it DOES use some “Tradition” names, but opts for Midsummer instead of Litha and Lammas not Lughnassadh.
- Pagan Rede: This book has re-named what is typically referred to as the “Wiccan Rede” because it is so applicable to really every person on the planet. ABC simply states to “harm no living thing.” I am so very delighted that they included this and elected to remove the word “wiccan” for inclusion of everyone. I believe this is the singularly most important lesson for anyone of any age to learn.
- Many Other Little Tidbits: I don’t want to give away everything but ABC does a really great job of touching on the little important things, like the Altar [a sacred place to pray], the Upperworld or realm of the Gods like Olympus for example, and the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Plus lots more!
- Young babies love the colors, love the singy-song, and love to pat and slobber all over this book.
- Toddler aged kiddos will love playing find the object on every page. Each page is so detailed and totally smothered with gorgeous illustrations – we play count the fairies, find all the flowers, find all the moons, etc… Also don’t be surprised when your kiddo starts singy-song’ing along and remembering the words better than you! Mine even likes to point out and name all the Zodiac signs at the end!
- Pre-School aged children will really begin picking up on the themes and lessons taught in this book. They will start relating concepts like the Sabbats and the elements to things they experience at home or family life and nature; and get very excited when they can make those connections!
- School aged children are probably getting a little too old for this book; but will still enjoy it mostly for it’s illustrations of things they are now familiar with as Pagans – and if any younger siblings should come about they will surely love being able to read and teach this book to the newbie.
Random Feature: Deity Placement is Perfect!
I don’t know if this was intentional… I’m going to hope it was because it is fantastic, but the placement of the Goddess and Horned God are within the same opened page. Conveniently looking at it, the Goddess is on the left and the God on the right… which corresponds perfectly to the common altar placement for Deity imagery in most [not all] of the altar-building traditions of Paganism and Wicca. SO! What that means is once you head on over to my Kids Plushie Altar Tools tutorial and whip up a Chalice and Athame set for your little one, you can prop this book open and place their tools in front for an instant child friendly altar 🙂
A note about this book’s availability: I believe it has recently gone out of printing, and stores and book suppliers are quickly running out of copies. Some Amazon jokers have copies priced in the hundreds of dollars! Don’t be discouraged though keep your eye out for eBay listings and sometimes smaller independently owned online or brick-and-mortar pagan shops will still have a few copies and don’t know how rare they have gotten. A couple of weeks ago I picked up 2 copies for some friends of mine off of eBay for about $40 bucks [including shipping] so that was pretty reasonable at $20 each. Definitely worth it!
The Secular Book: Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods & Heroes by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda
I picked Gods and Heroes for the first secular oriented book because it is the most fun way ever to learn about popular mythological tales from all kinds of different cultures: It’s a freakin popup book, guys. An amazing, detailed, so-many-pop-ups-on-every-page-omg-amazing popup book!
- Many Many Cultures: This book covers a whole lot, it includes the more “common” European cultures such as Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Nordic mythologies; but also includes things you might not think like Polynesian and Pacific Islander tales, several Asian cultures as well as Native American tales of Incas as Aztecs and more.
- Very Understandable: The stories and descriptions of the heroes and Gods of myth are spot-on and delightful to read. For example, it describes Odin as the “grizzled lord of wisdom and magic”. The words are strung together just as enchanting as the beautifully illustrative popup work.
- It’s Fun: Seriously, it’s so fun to read. Each section had a center, giant illustration that comes alive as you turn the page. Then again on every page there is 3 or 4 individual popup page flaps that contain smaller but no less detailed illustrations of each side story told. Even still some of these smaller page flaps contain their own flaps with even smaller popups! It just keeps opening up!
- Young Babies: I’m going to say, not recommended for this age. They might enjoy the bright popups, but little smashing hands and slobber would not mix well with this one.
- Toddlers: With supervision, when read by an adult, this is a great book for toddlers. They will not so much follow the stories, because lets be honest some mythological tales are pretty out there, but you can summarize and explain the tales to them and the popups are amazing and keep their attentions. Just make sure they are out of the “grab and tear” phase or you’re gonna have a bad time.
- Pre-School: Same as the toddler group, pre-schoolers will love the popups and will actually be able to understand and enjoy more of the stories. A lot of them they may already be familiar with if you have other mythology books and many they will love to be introduced too. At this age they can start manipulating the popups themselves which is great fun especially with the popups that have moving animated parts.
- School-aged: This is the audience this book is intended for. They will be able to read and follow the stories, perhaps learning a few great vocabulary words along the way. The popups of course make the whole experience so entertaining they will hardly realize they are learning!
- Middle School: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that middle school/junior high kids will love this book too. Especially as they become more familiar with ancient stories and learn about them in school. The book is really unique enough to be cool. I mean, there is a giant Thor in full bearded, armored, Moljnir-wielding glory… how cool is that?!
- High School: So, I wasn’t going to add this age group, BUT one of our friend’s babysitter recognized this book as one that her Literature teacher had in the classroom while studying myths & legends. She said the class fought over who got to look at it first lol. I’m a grown woman and I think this book is fan-freakin-tastic… so apparently this book is for everyone!
I hope you enjoyed this post! Check back soon for more pagan and secular kids book reviews!