Books with a purpose for young children


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — For decades, Brad Merritt has had a project in his head to offer wholesome books of morals and life lessons with a fun twist.

The idea came about when he told stories to his children, cousins and friends over the years. “With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic with all the families hunkered down, I felt it was time to finally launch the book series and a website,,” he said.

Lily A. sits with books from the series Books on Purpose by Brad Merritt of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport.

“BOP” stands for Books on Purpose. The books relate, generally, to children’s understanding that they were made on purpose, for a purpose. The website is intended to help children and families locally and regionally in multiple ways, he noted.


“Initially, we hope to make available good, wholesome books of morals and life lessons with a fun twist for families to enjoy with each other through the website and down the road maybe through school programs.” Merritt hopes to release 12 new books in the coming months and another 12 or more over the next year.

The emphasis now is on books geared toward children ages 3-9. He also has plans for a middle school mystery series called “The Cliffsiders” later this year. “Our mission is to help support kids and families in our local community by providing resources and entertaining books that promote good character, values and life lessons,” the website states.

Merritt believes area families and schools have a real need for books with morals and life lessons. “It seems prudent that we all can be of assistance for children to grow in character, wisdom and faithfulness. We need to start early and keep it up and we need each other’s help.”

The first book, released last month, is “Fretful Old Fred the Dog.” A description of the book states: “Times are challenging right now and the future is uncertain. You may be noticing your kids and grandkids are having a hard time adjusting to the uncertainty and perhaps a little confused and anxious. You’ll enjoy reading about how Fretful Old Fred regained peace and comfort thanks to a great new friendship.”

The second book is “Cheetah Jones: I Can Do It All by Myself.” Cheetah Jones discovers that doing everything on his own isn’t as good as it seems. “It can be better working together with friends. Learn to be a great teammate,” the book’s description states.

Initially, some books will be donated to “partner communities” for every book purchased (see website for a growing list). Merritt has other ideas floating for the future.

This is a family affair, Merritt said of the project. His son Ryan edits and helps get the books ready for the printer. Daughter Katie develops the website and marketing plan along with friend Kyle Shradel. Youngest daughter Amanda helps get books ready for shipping and any personal touches and follow-ups. “My wife Cheryl as usual is the beautiful glue and caulk holding everything together and filling in the holes and cracks.”

For more information or to order books visit

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