Catholic Homeschool Review

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Baltimore Catechism (New St. Joseph)

Child's Bible History

Bible History

Faith and Life

Our Quest for Happiness

Please note that prices included here may change at publisher's discetion at any time. Keeping It Catholic has no control over such prices changes.

The New Saint Joseph

Baltimore Catechism


Available through TAN Books, Seton, Our Lady of the Rosary and many more resources!

Price: Either $2.00 or $3.00, depending on which book

Age Levels: Starting in 1st grade, there are three (actually four, if one includes The Baltimore Catechism Explained) catechism books in the series, taking the child through to Confirmation preparation. 

Reviewer: Mary Pat Kengmana 

These are the books that are available in just about every Catholic homeschooling catalogue and with good reason, too. The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism books win hands down when it comes to clearly and concisely teaching the truths of our faith.


Each weekly lesson consists of an explanation of the topic, catechism questions, discussion and comprehension questions, Bible references that show how Scripture and Tradition go hand and hand, and a class liturgical action or project. Published before Vatican II, they do not reflect some of the cultural changes since then but this does not detract from the truth in the books. After all, truth is eternal. As a series these books are systematic, methodical, and cyclical.


This set is recommended as the central catechism program in any Catholic home or school. For those who may choose to use something else, you may still want a set of the Baltimore books for sound reference. With such low prices, it's one of the few times the truth comes inexpensively. they are well worth the investment.


First Communion Catechism (No. 0), Grades 1 & 2 ($2.00)

Catechism (No. 1), Grades 3 - 5 ($3.00)

Catechism (No.2), Grades 6 - 8 ($3.00)


Child's Bible History

by Rev. F.J. Knecht, D.D.


Publisher: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.

Age Level: 8 years and up

Reviewer: Mary Pat Kengmana

Is your Bible knowledge a bit shaky at best? Do you easily get silenced by a Bible Christian because your Bible education didn't get past the children's picture Bible you received for your 5th Christmas? Do you want to make sure the same doesn't happen to your children? An excellent goal - but where do your start? After all, the Bible isn't exactly user-friendly in parts. There are tedious family genealogies in places, the endless laws in Leviticus and in several books there are certain sins you'd just assume Junior wasn't aware of yet.


The first step, once your child has passed the picture Bible stage (about second to fourth grade) is to move onto Child's Bible History. This soft-cover book of 85 pages goes through the Old Testament in 28 lessons and the New Testament in 39.


Each lesson consists of a summary of the story followed by 3 to 10 comprehension questions. There are also many line-drawings scattered throughout. (This book needs to be done together with Mom as the vocabulary will challenge the young reader.)

Bible History

by Ignatius Schuster, D.D.

Also Available through TAN Books

Age Levels: 6th Grade and Up

Price: $10.00

Reviewer: Mary Pat Kengmana


This book is a winner. We have learned a tremendous amount about the biblical roots for the distinct Catholic beliefs which Protestants always question.


Bible History is the starting point for children in the upper elementary years, especially appropriate for children at the 6th and 7th grade levels.. At 388 pages, it goes into considerably more detail, mostly by covering more stories (86 of the Old Testament, and 96 in the New Testament). This non-consumable book also features beautifully detailed black and white line drawings


Again the stories are summarized and followed by comprehension questions, some of them excellent thinking questions. For example, in chapter LVI, 'The Revolt of Absalom' we find the following question: "In what circumstances of his life does David present a striking figure of Christ?" There is also some excellent and helpful commentary in some summaries, for example, explaining how Judith in the Old Testament was a figure type of the Virgin Mary.


As with Child's Bible History, Schuster's Bible History summarizes the Bible in 182 lessons with comprehension questions. Where appropriate, brief comments about Catholic practices are given, e.g. in chapter 35. Moses is in the wilderness with his people. They have manna but no water and so Moses strikes the rock. To quote, "The manna which daily fell from heaven, and sustained the Israelites for forty years in the desert, was a figure of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, who, every day during the Holy Mass, descends from heaven to nourish our souls for life ever-lasting. The water which flowed from the rock, when struck by Moses, signify the graces which flow so abundantly for us from the Sacraments of the Church."


Another area handled well is the subject of adult sins defined in the actual Scriptures. One of the concerns most of us have when reading the Bible with our children is that they be carefully introduced.


Intent on discovering how Bible History would deal with those adult sins referred to earlier, I found them subtle and well-handled. The incident when Noe (Noah) lies drunk and naked and his sons walk backwards to cover their father but not look at him, is summarized with "Children should learn from this example not to mock or ridicule their parents."


Later, we find that David "unhappily fell into two grievous sins. He took to himself Bethsabee, the wife of Urias, one of his captains, and in order to conceal his crime he caused Urias himself to be slain by exposing him for that purpose in the front of battle." Other sins are not specifically detailed, e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah's sins are only said to be exceedingly grievious.


Schuster's Bible History is an absolute necessity to grasping the relationship between Scripture and Tradition.

Faith and Life Religion Series

Publisher - Ignatius Press

Ages: With separate titles, the series covers grades 1 - 8

Reviewer: Mary Pat Kengmana


The Faith and Life religion series features reproductions of the world's greatest religious art - art that truly lifts one's heart to God. Although not as doctrinally strong as the Baltimore Catechism, each book provides a well thought-out plan of instruction along the following lines:


Grade one: *Our Heavenly Father* - The Trinity, with emphasis on the life of Jesus, and introduction to Mary, the angels and the saints.

Grade two: *Jesus Our Life* - Preparation for First Holy Communion and Reconciliation, the Commandments, Creation and Redemption.

Grade three: *Our Life with Jesus* - God's plan of salvation, from Creation through to Pentecost.

Grade four: *Jesus Our Guide* - Salvation history, our part in that plan, and the many ways God helps us in our efforts for our salvation.

Grade five: *Credo: I Believe* - Study of the Creed.

Grade six: *Following Christ* - The Ten Commandments, the Holy Mass and the Last Things.

Grade seven: *The Life of Grace* - Grace as our link with God, its transmission through the seven sacraments, and its role in developing the virtues.

Grade eight: *Our Life in the Church* - The history of the Church, the Fathers and Doctors and the Church, the saints and the role of religious and laity in the Church, the role of the Magisterium, the clergy, the religious and laity and our own vocations.

You certainly won't find any quirky or pseudo-Catholicism in this series. Faith and Life is out to save souls, not the environment. Any child who uses this series will know his faith by the time he is finished. It is spiral in its approach, so if your child has not quite grasped an idea the first time around, he will meet it again in a latter book.

The only weak point in the Faith and Life series is that the catechism questions, while thorough, are a bit long and cumbersome for memorization purposes. (In this area the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism is more succinct. ) For this reason, the homeschool parent may or may not find the Faith and Life Activity Books and the Teachers Manual as necessary accompanying books to the student texts. The Activity Books focus on busy work which most parents will not find mandatory.


Our Quest for Happiness

Published originally by Mentzer, Bush and Company,Chicago.

Available for purchase through Neumann Press and Our Lady of Victory

Reviewer: Keeping It Catholic Member


The four books in the series and appropriate answer keys (sold separately) are available for purchase either on an individual basis or as a set from Neumann Press or Our Lady of Victory. (Our Quest for Happiness series is the catechetical choice for Our Lady of Victory in grades 8-11 and Our Lady of the Rosary School in grades 9-12.)


A four-year high school religion series reprinted with no revisions from the original 1950's editions, each book includes a general overview with objectives for each high school year. This is a traditional series, providing high school students a rock-solid foundation in the Catholic Faith. When studying the Holy Mass, for example, one will find a beautiful, historical focus on the Tridentine Mass. Not only for young teens, adults who did not have the benefit of a solid catechism will also learn a great deal.


The books' authors included the Right Rev. Clarence E.Elwell, Ph.d., The Late Most Rev. James T O' Dowd, PhD, S. T. D., Right Rev. Msgr. Anthony N. Fuerst. S. T. D., Sister Mary St. Therese Dunn, S. N.D., M. A. and Right Rev. Msgr. John Voight, M. A., Ed. D. and many other contributors.


Book One - Our Goal and Our Guides (9th grade, 480 pp.) Nihil Obstat: J. Gerald Kealy, D.D., Censor Deputatus Imprimatur: Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archiepiscopus Chicagiensis, Jan. 25, 1955. Hard cover, gold-embossed.


Truths of the faith covered in the first book include the following overview (found on page 21): the aim of life; the first article of the Creed; the sacraments in general and Baptism and Confirmation in detail (traditional rite); the basic principles of morality and the first three commandments; the liturgical year (Tridentine liturgical calendar); the Holy Bible in general and the Old Testament and Genesis in particular; lives of the saints; prayers; and some of the errors and objections related to the subject matter in the first six items mentioned above.


Book Two - Through Christ Our Lord (10th grade, 591 pp.) See Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur and authors above; issued in 1956. Hard cover, gold embossed.


Building upon the first book's course of study, the student continues with "articles two to seven of the Apostles' Creed, especially the Incarnation and Redemption and the doctrine of grace; the Holy Eucharist, in all its aspects, as a sacrifice and a sacrament--the Mass and Holy Communion; the third and fourth commandments and the first and fourth precepts of the Church; the life of Christ in connection with the above, the Gospels; appropriate lives of the saints, prayers, and past and present errors and objections to the truths outlined above; the virtues, habits, practices, and attitudes which can and should be developed in connection with the assigned subject matter or at our particular age." For those who wish to enrich their study of religion, unit project suggestions are included. Though most projects are written for a classroom setting, modifications for the home can be made. Tests can be written from the unit reviews.


Book Three - The Ark and the Dove (11th grade, 616 pp.): Topics include: The Holy Ghost and His mission; the Church--second, third, and fifth precepts; synopsis of Church history; forgiveness of sins, Penance; fifth, sixth, and ninth commandments. Hard cover, gold-embossed.


Book Four - Towards the Eternal Commencement (12th grade, 574 pp.): The Blessed Virgin, her life, etc.; the Last Things and Extreme Unction; choice of state in life, Holy Orders and Matrimony; Seventh, Eighth, and Tenth commandments; Synopsis of Apologetics. Hard cover, gold embossed.

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