Catholic Kids Book Club


"Reading" art lends itself to "Writing" about the art. These two prompts can be used after your VTS examination of the art. They were developed by the Library of Congress for writing about portraits and work well for sacred art also.

The Whole Book Approach is an interactive way to talk about art and design by bringing the kids INTO the book. Think of the book as a physical art object that needs to be explored. The Whole Book Approach gives you the toolbox of skills for that exploration. This approach is an opportunity for the group to collaboratively read the pictures and design and to talk about art. Just remember that like with a real toolbox, you don't need to use every tool for your DIY project. You won't use every tool for your Whole Book Approach storytime either.

Student at Annunciation Catholic School in Cave Creek, AZ making her prayer bottle

​R is for Rosary classroom game

Engage your students in a "I have...who has?" looping game using information from the book.  A student starts the game by reading a clue.  For instance, "I have crucifix.  Who has a school boy who became a saint?"  The child with the answer responds, "I have Dominic Savio.  Who has the holiest day of the year - Alleluia! He has risen!"  The game continues until it loops back to the student who started it.  The game is made for 35 students but if less in your class then just distribute additional slips. 


Invite Barbara Gowan to visit your school

The author of R is for Rosary - a Catholic Family Alphabet is available for school visits, family literacy nights and staff professional development workshops.  During a school visit, students will discover the writing process used to create the book and how the sacred art was selected for each page.  Gowan meets with students by grade level in 30 minute (primary students) and 50 minute (intermediate grades) sessions.  

In a "Meet the Author" literacy night, families engage in learning about writing nonfiction books.  Barbara Gowan is the author of six books including D is for Desert - a World Desert Alphabet named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the Children's Book Council and National Science Teachers Association.  

Staff professional development on a variety of topics from creating classroom alphabet books to strategies for nonfiction reading and writing are 2-hour hands-on workshops.  Check out for details.

Email Barbara at for availability and fees.

Magnet Poetry words and directions- Download here.

Discover more about Visual Thinking Strategies at or in Philip Yenawine's book - Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines.

Making Prayer Bottles

Prayer is a conversation with God.  Making prayer bottles is a wonderful classroom or family activity.  Decorate a small jar or plastic bottle with stickers, photos or anything colorful.  The child can string beads on a piece of shoelace (the plastic tip makes this easy for young children) or wire.  Add a crucifix and your favorite saint medals.  Then tie it around the neck of the bottle.  When a friend is sick or needs help, write their name on a slip of paper and drop it in the jar.  Every day say a prayer asking God to bring comfort to all the people in your prayer jar.

VTS is just three questions and the wording is very important.

"What do you see going on in this picture?" opens up the discussion and suggests that the image is about something that can be figured out. It allows the finding of stories in the picture and allows comments of any sorts from colors to feelings to information or even personal associations.

"What do you see that made you say that?" encourages you to look more and gather evidence to support your opinions. It's evidence based answers. The wording of the question keeps you anchored in the image - what did you see?

"What more do you see?" (not what else do you see?) shows that there is usually more to be seen and talked about. Further observation may cause a change in first thoughts.

Reading Picture Books with Children - How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See ​by Megan Dowd Lambert

Founders of the Catholic Kids Book Club, Debra LaPlante and Barbara Gowan, presented a workshop on Faith Formation through Story at this year's Catholic Library Association/National Catholic Educational Association in San Diego. Here are some highlights of the workshop.

Writing prompts from favorite picture books and newly published religious themed books were shared. 

Visual Thinking Strategies ​uses art to teach thinking, communication skills and visual literacy to young people.

Faith Formation through Story

PO Box 5674, Carefree, AZ  85377