Sunday, March 11, 2012

Picture Books on St. Patrick's Day

What do you associate with St. Patrick’s Day?  Leprechauns?  Parades?  Green Beer?   As the holiday approaches this year, I decided to find out:  Who is St. Patrick?   I learned he grew up in what is now England (back then it was part of the Roman Empire).  He lived a life of privilege and comfort.  During his early years, he did not believe in God or desire to follow him.  After being taken captive and eventually being sold into slavery, he had a change of heart.  St. Patrick was able to escape slavery and eventually make it back home.  Vowing to never leave again, he felt God call him to preach to the pagans in Ireland.  As a result, he left his home and spend 30 years ministering to the people and experiencing great hardships.  Based on the celebrations today, I was surprised that the man being honored was a devout Christian.  Here are a couple books you can read to your children or students in remembrance of St. Patrick:

Saint Patrick (by Ann Trompert)  
Tropert’s retelling of St. Patrick's life is a great introduction that is simple enough for younger children yet interesting enough for older readers/listeners.  His perseverance and maturity are chronicled in this narrative as he lives life as a child, a captive, a slave, and a castaway.  St. Patrick, as well as those around him, learn about the power of prayer and obedience to God.  After being called by God into ministry, he spends years preparing by growing in knowledge, in leadership, and in the Spirit.  During his ministry to the Irish pagans, he is threatened, imprisoned, and enslaved, yet he is able to reach thousands of people with the Gospel.  St. Patrick epitomizes the commandment to be “fishers of men.” 

St. Patrick’s Day (by Elaine Landau)  
This selection is part of the Finding Out About Holidays series from Enslow Publishers.   It is divided into short chapters.  Some are more narrative and religious in nature like when St. Patrick’s life is described.  Others are more informative and secular describing the traditions (past and present), legends, and symbols.  Landau explains how the three-leafed clover and leprechauns are connected with the holiday.  Overall, St. Patrick’s Day provides a comprehensive description of the man and the holiday. 

Some people might be familiar with the folklore around St. Patrick.  One of the most common legends is the story that he led all the snakes out of Ireland.  In The Last Snake in Ireland, author Shelia MacGill-Callahan has created a trickster tale based on the ancient story and combined it with a contemporary myth of the Loch Ness monster.  Also, Joyce A. Stengel has a retelling of the snake legend that includes the help of some furry friends called St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice

I have never celebrated or thought much of the St. Patrick holiday.  These books, though, helped me have a better understanding and appreciation for the man the day honors. 

In my blog hopping recently, I came across two wonderful St. Patrick's Day units with activities parents can use at home with their preschool-aged children or teachers might want to use in their classes.  Visit Over the Moon and  2 Teaching Mommies to view and download. There are lots of fun craft ideas on the web. Click on these blog sites to view them: The Home Teacher (Hand Print Plate), Mom on Time Out (Leprechaun Hats), and Living Montessori Now (Beaded Rainbow). For a delicious craft/healthy snack idea, visit The Iowa Farmer's Wife and another holiday treat at Our Side of the Mountain


  1. Cool! Thanks for including me! We had fun! The kids love "Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland".

  2. Thanks for the great St. Patrick's Day resources ... and thanks for including my post! :) Deb @


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