Summer Reading for Kids: The Monk Who Grew Prayer

Summer is the perfect opportunity to nurture your children’s faith while they have a break from all the temptations and secular messages of school. This series of book reviews is meant to help you find substantive, engaging Orthodox books that appeal to children of a variety of ages. We hope to make it easier for you to find beautiful books that help us share the love of Christ in story form. We’ve been reviewing books from different cultures, continents, time periods and reading levels.

If there is a book you’d like to recommend for us to review, please suggest it in the comment section of this blog post and we’ll be happy to check it out. In the meantime, our latest review is of a book that is perfect to snuggle up and read with younger children, but could also inspire your whole family to step up your prayer life.

The Monk Who Grew Prayer, written and illustrated by Claire Brandenburg  (published by Conciliar Press, 2003; with an introduction by Mother Raphaela, Abbess of Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery), is a gentle allegorical story about a the prayer life of a hermit monk. Outwardly, it looks like he’s doing daily chores like growing a garden, hauling water, or chopping wood, but on the inside, no matter what he’s doing, he’s “growing” prayer. The simple text has little more than a sentence on each page, but is the story is expanded by the playful folksy illustrations that add humor and interest.

This is a great book for children of any age because it’s outward simplicity holds a deep and beautiful message: each of us, no matter what we are busy with on the outside, can live a simple yet rich prayer life internally, starting with following the hours of prayer and the Jesus prayer. Summertime is a perfect time to pray morning, afternoon and evening prayers together as a family. Build the habit gently now and maybe your children will keep praying inside when school starts back up.

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