What follows is a kindness of longtime reader, Chris Scarlett, who generously shares her annotated list of picture books just in time to prepare for the Feast of St. Francis. A few of these are out of print, but please don't be discouraged. They are readily available at the library (St. Francis seems more welcome there than other saints) or used for purchase on Amazon for as little as a penny! Our family has read most of these (though I admit to adding a few new-to-us ones to our library this week), and I heartily concur with Chris' notes.
Many, many thanks to Chris:-)
The feast of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4th, will be here soon. We happen to own and have used about a week's worth of resources, but we have also borrowed some gems from the library in the past. So, I decided to check them out again, and in the process went down a rabbit trail of obtaining and reading a whole bunch of others. Many non-Catholics and other people of good will seem to relate to this holy and creation-loving saint. I am only listing the ones that seem to me to be worth your time; I returned some that just didn't seem serious enough, while retaining a selection that will work across an age span of children.
Each category is arranged from simplest to more complex.
I strongly recommend reading any authors' notes first to see where they are coming from before sharing these with your family.
* means it is in Chris' personal library
Emphasis on Life of St. Francis:
++ The Good Man of Assisi by Mary Joslin, illustrations by Alison Wisenfeld* (a good place to start)
++ Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts by Margaret Hodges, pictures by Ted Lewin* (two important people in children's lit)
++ Saint Francis by Brian Wildsmith* (stunning art style)
++ Song of St. Francis by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Valenti Angelo (retro with very few pictures, more of an early reader)
++ Francis, The Poor Man of Assisi by Tomie dePaola (well-researched, of course)
++ Saint Francis of Assisi by Joyce Denham, illustrated by Elena Temporin (whimsical style, includes a good sampling of episodes)
++ Brother Sun, Sister Moon, The Life and Stories of St. Francis by Margaret Mayoh, illustrated by Peter Malone (lovely biography plus legendary tales)
++ Saint Francis of Assisi, A Life of Joy by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (RFK's adult son), illustrated by Dennis Nolan (contemporary art style)
++ St. Francis by Pelagie Doane* (1960 vintage Catholic, will be harder to locate)
++ Saint Francis Sings To Brother Sun, A Celebration of His Kinship With Nature selected and retold by Karen Pandell, illustrated by Bijou Le Tord ( a lot of material, quirky artwork)
++ Brother Wolf of Gubbio, A Legend of Saint Francis by Colony Elliott Santangelo (inks and colored pencils on bass wood)
++ Saint Francis and the Wolf by Jane Langton, illustrated by Ilse Plume (simple, sweet)
++ Saint Francis and the Animals by Leo Politi (1959 classic)
++ Francis Woke Up Early by Josephine Nobisso, illuminations by Maureen Hyde (fairy tale qualities, but by a beloved Catholic author, numerous awards)
Emphasis on the First Live Nativity Scene (great for Advent)
++ Saint Francis Celebrates Christmas retold by Mary Caswell Walsh, illustrated by Helen Caswell (brief)
++ A Gift From St. Francis, The First Creche by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Michele Lemieux* (our family's favorite in this category, we say, "pazzo, pazzo" when someone is doing something crazy)
++ The Living Nativity, The Story of Saint Francis and the Christmas Manger by David and Helen Haidle (more fictional, includes lesson-extending ideas in the back)
Three Inspired by St. Francis' "Canticle of the Sun":
(your youngest will love these, all are GORGEOUS, would make great gift books)
++ The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Cathie Felsted* (collage)
++ Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures reimagined by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton (amazing scissor cuttings)
++ Be Blest, A Celebration of Seasons by Mary Beth Owens* (12 months, 12 wreaths, 12 poems)
Two That Include His Friend, St. Clare of Assisi:
++ . Clare and Francis by Guido Visconti, illustrated by Bimba Landmann
++ Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi by Helen Walker Homan, illustrations by John Lawn (190 page Vision chapter book for a read aloud, or for older readers)