When Andrea Stein, a pagan mom, couldn't find high-quality books for her 10-year-old daughter that celebrate the earth and sky, ancient sacred rituals, magic, and more, she kicked up some dust about it. She launched her own publishing house, Moon Dust Press, with a 2019 Kickstarter campaign and self-published her first book in 2020. Brina is about a little girl trying to decide which kind of witch she would like to become.
Stein tells PW that pagan books for children may be scarce because "there is a stigma attached as if these books are promoting something evil or demonic. But the reality is that there are millions of people doing some form of paganism who want to share their faith with their children. There is a hunger for this material. I belong to a pagan homeschool moms group that is 30,000 strong. We want to be able to go to a bookstore and find a pagan book just like you find the mainstream Judeo-Christian titles for kids. It should be recognized as legitimate."
Now, Moon Dust has a distribution agreement with mind-body-spirit house Red Wheel/Weiser, and 10 authors producing mind-body-spirit titles and children's books such as Sam and the Samhain Scare by author, witch, and former teacher Kathleen Converse. Samhain — a fall Scottish Gaelic harvest when celebrants are joined by the spirits of their ancestors —falls on Halloween. The book, out now, is the third in the press's Wheel of the Year series on eight pagan holidays including the solstices, equinoxes, and key dates in between.
Stein defines paganism as an umbrella term for earth-based religions that follow the seasons of the earth and magic, astrology, and ancient folk traditions. Among the seven books she has planned for 2024 are children's titles such as an herbalist handbook, a book on Filipino spirituality and magical healing, and a middle-grade book on palmistry called In Your Hands.
"I'm leaning into board books for babies, too," says Stein, whose bestseller to date is an alphabet book, C Is for Coven.
Searching online for children's books with a pagan perspective turns up several titles on witches, pagan festivals, and more by authors who describe themselves as parents who, like Stein, independently published the kinds of books they wanted for their families. Other authors connected with mind-body-spirit publishers such as Running Press, which has titles including Hello Sacred Life and Hello Sacred Creatures by prolific author and Tarot deck creator Kim Krans.
Herbalist, Druid, author, and former teacher Ellen Evert Hopman began writing pagan titles for children after planners of an annual pagan festival asked her to create some activities for children attending with their families. After the event, Hopman took the expanded festival worksheets, added recipes and more activities such as making a catnip mouse, and spun them into a book, Walking the World in Wonder (2000) for Inner Traditions' Healing Arts Press imprint. "Our culture desperately these kinds of books," says Hopman. "The earth is struggling now. Animals and people are having a hard time. And as parents become sensitized to this, they want to reach their kids. Everyone has to see the natural world as sacred or will all be lost."
Last year, Hopman followed up with a poetry collection on pagan festivals, Once Around the Sun, for another Inner Traditions imprint, Destiny Books. It features simple poems based on folk traditions and holidays such as Samhain and a winter holiday starring a witch, La Befana, who comes down the chimney with gifts and blesses new brooms. Hopman includes recipes and activities such as making a twig broom. Although La Befana is called the "Christmas Witch," because she arrives at Epiphany on the calendar, she has no ties to Christian beliefs. Hopman explains in the book that "La Befana is a modern version of a Roman goddess for the new year who was "demoted" to being a witch.
Ehud Sperling, founding publisher of Inner Traditions, says Once Around the Sun has already sold more than 5,000 copies, and is among their bestsellers. "We look for authors like Hopman who have an authentic voice and draw their inspiration from folk traditions that existed long before Christianity," Sperling says. While the house has a handful of titles specifically for children, he expects the knowledge found in many of the titles on IT's 2,000-title backlist highlighting wisdom traditions, mythologies, earth medicine, and animal magic will trickle down generations. "If you want children to know about pagans, it begins with the parents," he says.