All Aboard Noah’s Ark! by Mary Josephs (Golden Books, 20 pages, $4.99)

The Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gayle Wiersum (Little Golden Books, 24 pages, $4.99)

The Golden Children’s Bible by Rev. Joseph A. Grispino, Dr. Samuel Terrien and Rabbi David H. Wice (Golden Books, 510 pages, $23.99)

Inspirational Tales: A Little Golden Book Collection by Various Authors Golden Books, 212 pages, $15.95)

The Story of Jesus by Jane Werner Watson (Little Golden Books, 24 pages, $4.99)

Where’s God When I’m S-Scared? adapted by Karen Poth (Little Golden Books, 24 pages, $4.99)

There are many wonderful moments that parents experience when raising a family. While I couldn’t begin to list them in such a small space, I’d certainly include building your child’s first library. This enjoyable task will help guide, nurture and shape their young minds – and introduce them to classic stories from your own childhood.

It’s also a golden opportunity to open their horizons to the wonderful world of Little Golden Books. Founded in 1942, these distinctive thin hardcover volumes have long been the source of much joy and inspiration for young and old alike. George Duplaix, president of the Artists and Writers Guild, Inc., came up with the novel idea of creating a cost-effective book with gorgeous art and memorable stories that children would love and treasure. (In the 1940s, an average children’s book was a pricy $2-3. Little Golden Books only cost 25¢ apiece.)

To date, more than two billion copies of memorable stories like The Poky Little Puppy, The Little Red Hen, Scuffy the Tugboat, The Tawny Scrawny Lion and The Saggy Baggy Elephant have been sold worldwide. Currently published by Random House, there are over 1,200 Little Golden Book titles from which to choose. Meanwhile, the highly recognizable covers and artwork of the classic editions – which young tykes devoured in drug stores, department stores and bookstores – remain exactly the same.

But here’s an interesting fact of which even the biggest Little Golden Book fan may not be aware: this popular series also has an inspirational line, complete with kid-friendly religious stories and family-oriented tales, that’s still in print. The text has been specifically designed to give little ones an early introduction to religion, Christianity, and the world around them.

For example, Mary Joseph’s All Aboard Noah’s Ark! is a delightful way to start off your child’s library. It’s a small, chunky book with tiny flaps – revealing animals going on this important voyage – that little fingers will enjoy opening and shutting with glee. Simple language is used (“Two by two, the animals went aboard the ark”), the book is upbeat, and tots and toddlers will love learning about Noah’s Ark.

The Animals’ Christmas Eve is available in the classic Little Golden Book style that will bring back fond memories. Gayle Wiersum’s endearing book is about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus, from the animals’ perspective. Parents will appreciate the short biblical quotes interspersed in this story. To top it off, little ones will get to count from one small hen to twelve bell chimes, leading to the exciting moment of Christmas Eve.

Another classic Little Golden Book edition is Jane Werner Watson’s The Story of Jesus. This gives boys and girls a first glimpse into our Lord’s life, travels and His rise. There are short references to important historical figures like John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate and Judas, a brief mention of the Jewish celebration Passover, and even the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. It’s a pleasant biblical adaptation of a powerful and important story.

The popular Christian-themed animated series Veggie Tales is featured in Where’s God When I’m S-Scared? Five-year-old Junior Asparagus is afraid of things that go bump in the night after watching a scary program. He learns an important message, “God is bigger than the boogeyman and He’s watchin’ out for you and me,” and feels safe once more. This fun, upbeat story might entice your kids to start reading (and perhaps eating more vegetables) before long.

Meanwhile, The Golden Children’s Bible is one of the crown jewels of this inspirational line of books. For decades, it has been regarded as one of the finest children’s bibles ever made – and with good reason. Three biblical scholars from the Christian and Jewish faiths oversaw this massive project, which examines passages of the Old and New Testaments. The artwork is stunning, and helps these stories magically come to life. This book is a superb choice for older children who love to read, as well as younger children who love a great bedtime story.

Michael Taube is an Ottawa Citizen columnist and a former speechwriter for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Part II of this review, which looks at Inspirational Tales: A Little Golden Book Collection, will appear online at