Textbook Selection Guide


Textbook Selection Committee Guidelines



I.          Role of Textbook Selection Committee


The Textbook selection committee is to recommend to the bishop of the diocese the best religion texts available in accord with criteria given in Church documents cited below. The purpose is to fulfill the Bishops responsibility to issue norms for catechetics, [and] to make provision that suitable instruments for catechesis are available . . . (CIC, c.775; CCEO, c.621). Specifically, the bishop is called upon to establish a process for the evaluation of catechetical materials proposed for use in his diocese (NDC 70).


II.         Approved Textbooks 


Textbooks already approved by the diocese for Catholic schools and parishes are shown at appendix I.


III.        Scope and Purpose


            A.        The Textbook Selection committee has been established to advise the bishop in the selection of best religion texts for use in our parishes and schools by catechists, Catholic school teachers (elementary and high school), DREs, parish school of religion, confirmation or other sacramental preparation programs.


            B.       In addressing bishops in Catechesi Tradendae, an apostolic exhortation, On Catechesis in Our Time, Blessed Pope John Paul II writes:  And needless to say, although your zeal must sometimes impose upon you the thankless task of denouncing deviations and correcting errors, it will much more often win for you the joy and consolation of seeing your Churches flourishing because catechesis is given in them as the Lord wishes.


              C.        Pope Benedict XVI has said, the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love. Indeed, the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated (Address to Catholic Educators, 2008).


IV.       The work of evaluation of textbooks is ongoing and time consuming and requires attention to detail in any series or textbook under review.  Reviews can be initiated at the request of parishes or schools. Our goal is to identify those textbooks which clearly and completely embody the guidelines laid out herein by the Church and to identify those which most closely reflect our own curricular guidelines. The books and series to be reviewed may be from our schools, parish school of religion, confirmation programs or other catechetical books as required. Materials for review should be sent to the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis at the diocese: Attn: Textbook Selection Committee.


V.        Some Criteria for Selection 


In Catechesi Tradendae, Blessed Pope John Paul II states:


One of the major features of the renewal of catechetics today is the rewriting and multiplication of catechetical books taking place in many parts of the Church. Numerous very successful works have been produced and are a real treasure in the service of catechetical instruction. But it must be humbly and honestly recognized that this rich flowering has brought with it articles and publications which are ambiguous and harmful to young people and to the life of the Church. In certain places, the desire to find the best forms of expression or to keep up with fashions in pedagogical methods has often enough resulted in certain catechetical works which bewilder the young and even adults, either by deliberately or unconsciously omitting elements essential to the Church's faith, or by attributing excessive importance to certain themes at the expense of others, or, chiefly, by a rather horizontalist overall view out of keeping with the teaching of the Church's magisterium.


Therefore, it is not enough to multiply catechetical works or select a work based upon only a few indicators of essential quality. In order that these works may correspond with their aim, several conditions are essential. They must:


            A.        Be linked with the real life of the generation to which they are addressed [e.g., age appropriate in content and visuals], showing close acquaintance with its anxieties and questionings, struggles and hopes;


            B.        Try to speak a language comprehensible to the generation in question, avoiding the  creation of a new vocabulary which confuses students and ignores key catholic language found in the Catechism, the liturgy, the Creeds, etc.;


            C.        Make a point of giving the whole message of Christ and His Church, without neglecting or distorting anything, and in expounding it they will follow a line and structure that highlights what is essential [they should adhere to the curriculum and have appropriate scope and sequence];


            D.        Really aim to give to those who use them a better knowledge of the mysteries of Christ, aimed at true conversion and a life more in conformity with God's will (CT 49).


These four conditions are a guide for the evaluation of catechetical

series and textbooks along with others drawn from references cited



VI.       Additional Criteria for Selection. 


            In accordance with the National Directory of Catechesis (NDC), Section 68, Catechetical Textbooks and Other Instructional Materials, all textbooks selected for use in the diocese by this committee should:


            A.        Present the authentic message of Christ and his Church, adapted to the capacity of the learners and in language that can be understood by them.

            B.        Be faithful to Sacred Scripture [also citing Bible references, such as Matthew 5:1 or a similar citation from other books of Scripture]

            C.        Highlight the essential truths of the faith, giving proper emphasis to particular truths in accord with their importance within the hierarchy of truths.

            D.        Be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

            E.        Be approved by the local bishop.

            F.         Give to those who use them a better knowledge of the mysteries of Christ.

            G.        Promote a true conversion to Jesus Christ.

            H.        Inspire and encourage those who use them to live the Christian life more faithfully.

            I.            Be culturally appropriate and reflect the real-life situations of those who use them.

            J.         Promote charity, appreciation, and respect for persons of all racial, ethnic, social and religious backgrounds.

            K.        Present other ecclesial communities and religions accurately [when these are mentioned].

            L.         Employ a variety of sound catechetical methodologies based on the results of responsible catechetical research.

            M.        Include appropriate examples of Christian prayer and opportunities for liturgical experiences and incorporate the use of Sacred Scripture as a text for study along with other catechetical textbooks.

            N.        Offer short passages of Sacred Scripture that can easily be learned by heart.

            O.        Contain opportunities to review and measure progress in learning.

            P.        Be visually attractive, engage the students, and incorporate a variety of examples of Christian art.

            Q.        Include graphics that represent the various regional, cultural, economic and religious characteristics of the people who will be using them.

            R.        Engage the intellect, emotion, imagination and creativity of the students.

            S.        Wherever appropriate, special materials for use in the catechesis of persons with disabilities should be available for special education.

            T.         Catechist and teacher manuals should contain an explanation of the message of salvation (constant references must be made to the sources, and a clear distinction must be kept between those things which pertain to the faith and to the doctrine that must be held, and those things which are mere opinions of theologians); psychological and pedagogical advice; suggestions about methods. (NDC, 68).


VII.      ACRE Testing 


            As a gauge to determine progress in the area of our Strategic Plan for Catholic Schools regarding the Catholic identity of our schools, it is recommended that a standardized common assessment tool be used.  The Assessment of Catechesis/Religious Education (ACRE) is one such test that currently is utilized by the Diocese of Kansas City St. Joseph.  To qualify and quantify achievement of our students in the area of Catholic Identity coupled with determining the rigor of our textbook options, the ACRE test should remain our standardized common assessment for the extent of the textbook cycle covered by this textbook policy. 


VIII.     Implementation Date. 


            Only currently approved religion textbooks can be used once the implementation date is reached August 1, 2012 until final approval of a new series or text is requested and received from the Office of the Bishop (see Appendix I for approved texts). This usually takes place after parish/school review and diocesan Textbook Selection Committee review/recommendation are completed. Recommended criteria for parish/school review are provided below. These worksheets should be filled out by the parish/school prior to review by the diocesan Textbook Selection Committee (see Appendix II for members of the Committee).


IX.        Recommended Criteria 


            All criteria are based on the catechetical norms and guidelines found in the General Catechetical Directory, General Directory for Catechesis, Catechism of the Catholic Church, and The  National Catechetical Directory. Parishes or schools requesting a religion series or textbook to be evaluated should form a local committee to review them using the worksheets provided on the next pages and submit them to the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, Attention: Textbook Selection Committee.


            A.        The Pastor, DRE, Principal, and or a Curriculum Coordinator assemble a committee of catechists from each level.  Parents, catechists and other interested, knowledgeable people should participate in the committee.


            B.        If Catholic schools are proposing a change, they should notify the Catholic School Office at the diocese.  Only texts on the USCCB Conformity Listing of Catechetical Texts and Series, can be proposed for approval (found at the following web site:  http://www.usccb.org/catechism/document/Currentlist.pdf)

            C.        Consult the list of recommended religion series or texts (mentioned above), paying particular attention to whether they are in the parish or Catholic school edition.  Look at all the facets of the series--student text, teachers guide, supplementary materials, etc.


            D.        If evaluating a whole series you must fill out both the series evaluation and the individual textbook evaluations.


            E.        Copies of teacher's manuals, student texts and teaching support materials should be disseminated to all committee members for comparison and study. Each committee member should be particularly sensitive to how the series fulfills the criteria they have identified.


            F.         Arrive at a consensus recommendation about the series or textbook which a catechist hopes to adopt.  Ideally, all teachers affected by the change should be given a chance to review the proposed text.  Provide an in-service to go over the material.


            G.       For consistent religious education within the same parish, it is expected that the same religion series be used in the parish religious education program and school program.  This establishes a unity that is vitally important,          especially with the sacramental preparation program of the parish.


            H.       Allow three-nine months for the review process to be completed at the diocesan level for a new series.  To have timely ordering of new texts it is recommended that all submissions that are intended for purchase in the next school year should be submitted by March 15th of the preceding school year. Texts approved for use will normally be for the following school year.


            I.          Persons doing the assessment should provide their name, position, and area and school or parish in which they teach.


X.        References


Some of the key references consulted in preparation of this document:


            A.        Catechetical Formation in Chaste Living (USCCB, 2008))

B.        Catechesi Tradendae by Blessed Pope John Paul II

C.        General Directory for Catechesis (1997)

D.        Guidelines for Doctrinally Sound Catechetical Materials,  

            (USCCB, 2009)

E.        Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age (USCCB, 2008)

F.         National Directory for Catechesis (USCCB, 2005)

G.        Pope Benedict XVIs Address to Catholic Educators, Ap'08

H.        Religion Textbook Conformity Listing (USCCB, online)

            I.          Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (USCCB, 2005)

            J.         Memorandum to All Catholic Elementary School Principals from Superintendent of Schools, 24 February 2009.


*To Download the Evaluation forms necessary to submit new series or texts for review by the commmittee, click on the links below:


Evaluation Worksheet for a Whole Series

Evaluation Worksheet for an Individual Textbook

Evaluation Worksheet for a Teacher's Manual



Appendix I:  Approved Texts for Use in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

The Textbook selection committee recommends to the bishop of the diocese the best religion texts available in accord with criteria given in Church documents. The purpose is to fulfill the Bishops responsibility to issue norms for catechetics, [and] to make provision that suitable instruments for catechesis are available . . . (CIC,c.775; CCEO, c.621). The National Directory for Catechesis asks bishopsto establish aprocess for the evaluation of catechetical materials proposed for use in his diocese(NDC 70). This process has produced the list of texts that have been approved by the Bishop. Other texts may be approved after evaluation by the Committee which consists of principals, teachers, catechists, diocesan directors, etc.

 Approved Catholic School Texts:

Highest Recommendation:

       Ignatius: Faith and Life and 2) Image of God

       Our Sunday Visitor: Alive in Christ

   Other Approved Text Series:

       Loyola: Christ Our Life and 2) Finding God

RCL Benziger: Be My Disciples

       Sadlier:  We Believe (K-6)


Additional Approved Resources:

1)      St. Marys Press: Catholic Childrens Bible:Read It! Live It! Love It!

2)      BreakThrough: The Bible for Young Catholics (Bible for Middle School Children)

 Approved Hispanic PSR Resources:

a.      For the Sacrament of Baptism: Unllamado a celebrar el Bautismo (A Call to celebrate Baptism) from Our Sunday Visitor (Both versions: English and Spanish).

b.      For the Sacrament of Confirmation: Para confirmar la Fe y la Vida (To Confirm Faith and Life) (San Pablo edition).

c.       Serie Fe y Vida (Faith and Life Series from Ignatius Press)    Preferred.

 For First Communion, Bilingual Edition from Loyola Press:

               1.     Gods Gift: Reconciliation (Loyola Press)

               2.     Gods Gift: The Eucharist (Loyola Press)

d.   Puentes de Fe (Bridges of Faith) (Loyola Press)

e.   Llamados a ser catholicos; (Called to be Catholic) (Loyola Press)

f.   Conociendo nuestra fe catholica;  Knowing Our Catholic Faith, English; 

g.   Encontrando a Dios, (Finding God) Spanish. (Loyola Press)

h.    The Bilingual edition of We Believe (Sadlier)

  High School Series:  Didache Series 

Confirmation Resources:

Highest Recommendation:

Decision Point by Matthew Kelly (free online resource)

Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation (Ascension Press)

Other Approved Series:

Confirmed in a Faithful Community

Lifeteen One-Eight Confirmation Curriculum

YM Central Kenosis Confirmation and Renewal Cur. Ver. 2.0

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