With the popularity of Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods and at schools, a parish in the archdiocese is taking a similar project one giant virtuous step further.
The FAVE Book House debuted in April at Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin. FAVE, which stands for Faith And Virtue for Everyone, uses the concept of a small, freestanding outdoor lending library, but includes only books written by Catholic authors who focus on virtues.
The project was spearheaded by parishioner Cathy Gilmore, founder of the nonprofit organization Virtue Works Media, and who started the Virtue Literacy Project to promote virtues through reading and media. A blessing and dedication of the book house was held April 28 at the parish.
The bright green, white and yellow wooden house, perched just outside Holy Infant School, was an Eagle Scout project coordinated by Matt Van Vooren, a Holy Infant parishioner with Boy Scout Troop 627 and a sophomore at Saint Louis University High School.
Inside are nearly 100 books, written exclusively by Catholic authors, for children in primary and middle school grades. Gilmore noted that while virtues certainly can be found in books written by non-Catholic authors, the project gives exposure to Catholic writers who sometimes “might get lost in the mix.”
Gilmore added that “these are all books that you read for fun. So much of the material out there for children and grown-ups is on how to learn something on the faith. These are supposed to delight your heart and mind with a great story.”
Each book includes a small bookplate on the inside front cover, which includes a list of 30 everyday virtues — such as kindness, patience, courage, perseverance and fortitude — for readers to search for within the context of each book.
“Virtue is not something easy to understand intellectually,” Gilmore said. “But you can always recognize it when you see it. So we’re giving our kids an opportunity to learn to recognize virtue when they see it.”
Gilmore also enlisted the help of her son, Peter, and the Adolphson family to read and recommended selections for the book house. Members of American Heritage Girls Troop MO0146 at Holy Infant also were enlisted to help with covering the books with protective contact paper. Members of the Legion of Mary also offered their prayers for the project. Some of the authors themselves donated books through the Catholic Writers Guild.
Van Vooren launched the project last July, mostly paperwork and getting approval for the project, with the work beginning in the fall. Fast forward to spring and most of the work was completed by Holy Week, including setting the concrete for the posts, and putting down sod, gravel and pavement stones.
Ana Turner, who attended the blessing ceremony with her mom, Kate, was the first to choose a book from the book house. She settled on “The Gate,” a novel by Nancy Carabio Belager that explores the discovery of God’s calling for each of us, as shown through the eyes of an eighth-grader named Josh.
Ana, a fifth-grader, looked forward to delving into her borrowed book. “I was looking in there, and it just looked interesting,” she said of her selection.
Her mom said it’s great knowing that her children can borrow something from the book house without worrying whether the content is appropriate. “It makes a difference because you can’t always read the books in advance,” Kate Turner said.
Virtue Literacy Project
will present more information on the Virtue Literacy Project at two
upcoming events designed to empower parents and grandparents as “Virtue
“Being Light in the Dark” will be held at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 7, in the parish hall at Ascension Church, 230 Santa Maria
Drive in Chesterfield. For more information contact Terri at
Another session will take place after the
8:30 a.m. Mass Saturday, May 11, in the lower church hall at Incarnate
Word Church, 13416 Olive Blvd. in Chesterfield. For more information,
contact Anni at email@example.com.
Start a FAVE Book House
To learn more about starting a FAVE Book House, visit Virtue Works Media at virtueworksmedia.com or contact Cathy Gilmore at (636) 391-3999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHARE YOUR IDEAS
Where have you seen
virtues in media? Share your examples (books, TV shows, movies, music
and more) using the hashtag #VirtueWorks on Twitter and Instagram.