My word of the year for 2021 is embrace, and so far it is helping to guide the decisions I've made, as well as my mindset. In January, I embraced reading by reading 5 books personally, listening to 4 audiobooks, and reading aloud 6 books to my children. My goal this year is not to read as many books as possible, but to read whenever I have a spare moment. I'm sharing 12 of these books with you today!
I've used affiliate links to share these books with you. You can read more about affiliate links in my policies.
I saw Ginger Hubbard at the Teach Them Diligently Denver conference in 2019. Her parenting advice stood out to me then, so when I saw this book at our local Christian book store for just a few dollars, I just had to have it. The book addresses what you can do to help your child be more self-controlled in their reactions and interactions with others. My biggest take-away was that I should have a script for disciplining my children, rather than grasping for words in the midst of high emotions. Ginger Hubbard walks through different situations and how to handle each one in a Biblical way. I mentioned to my Charlotte Mason book group how helpful it was to have a script like this, and the majority said, "Yes! Having a script is so helpful!" Maybe I am late to the 'scripted discipline' party!
I gave it four stars because it was so helpful, but felt a little bit repetitive. Perhaps it would have been better to think of it as a reference book rather than a cover-to-cover read from the start.
There are so many important books that I missed out on during my own paltry public school education, and The Hiding Place was one of them. Many people read this in their teen years, and Ambleside Online includes it in their Year 7 curriculum. Reading the book recently had such a profound impact on me that I wish I had read it earlier in my life, while my faith was so easily shaken by every passing wave. I wrote on Instagram how a friend's sweet words about the God's timing encouraged me.
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman who, along with her father and sister, helped protect Jewish people from the Nazi's during World War II. They were eventually caught, and sent to prison and concentration camps. The most influential part, to me at least, was not the bravery in their actions, but the amount they depended on God even in the most dire situations.
This is a five-star book, and I can't wait to read other Corrie ten Boom books. I think my next read by her will be In My Father's House, which describes growing up under the loving guidance of her wise and Godly father.
I've been wanting to make sure my book choices are broad and cover a wide range of topics this year. I thought Passing would be a good choice because even though it is classic literature, it is very relevant to today.
The two main characters, both black, were childhood acquaintances, until one of the friends was orphaned and taken away by white aunts where she "passed" as white. The two acquaintances ran into each other years later, and Irene, who was very happy in her life, had her world turned upside down by Claire, whose life as a white woman was so different. The book touched on topics like racism, contentedness, and belonging, and the storyline was so intriguing that I read it in a matter of days.
I gave this book four stars, It felt very similar to The Great Gatsby to me, but for its characters and being set in the Harlem Renaissance. I enjoyed it tremendously and more importantly it made me think about big issues, but I'm not sure the characters were developed all that well. None of them were inspiring.
This is a book that surprised me immensely. It was so creatively written that I couldn't put it down. Not surprisingly, based on the title, it is a love story set in World War I. But what makes it so unique is that it is told from the perspective of the Greek gods. Aphrodite, Hades, and Aries tell the story of two couples whose lives intertwine during the Great War. This is technically a young adult novel, but it contains such depth that I've told lots of people about it so far. Obviously, there were things that I didn't agree with, but I can still enjoy a book without agreeing with it in entirety.
You can probably tell a gave it 5-stars, but honestly, I feel a little self-conscious about that. People in my little community of homeschoolers, both online and in-person, are so well-read that this book is probably not even on their radar. If you've read this book, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.
This is a collection of essays on motherhood orchestrated by Ashely Gadd of Coffee and Crumbs. I think I started reading one of Ashely's blogs the same year I became a mother, so I was excited to read a book she had put together. There are various authors in this book, and I connected with some better than others. In fact, there was one that I was tempted to skip, but ended up reading all of her pieces.
3.5- stars, mainly because of the author that I felt was complaining more than inspiring.
I've realized that I tend to like audiobooks less than I like books that I read, probably because I'm often doing other things while I'm listening and sometimes get distracted. It probably appears that I listened to a good amount of audiobooks in January, but in truth, I started some of them the month before and it took me a bit to finish them.
This was a short little audiobook, and I imagine a thin little read, that was inspiring. The big idea is that we should be going out of our comfort zones to create sweet memories with out children. If you are already adventurous, this might not mean much to you, but if you feel like you're stuck in a rut, it might inspire you to get out of it.
4-stars. I enjoyed it, but I think I appreciated her stories of adventuring more than her advice on how to adventure.
I listened to Sally Clarkson's podcast, and she recommended a book that she wrote 8 years ago as a perfect book to read (but I cheated and listened instead!) during these crazy times. It was truly inspiring, urging us to find joy in whatever circumstances God has given us, because He is present worthy to be praised regardless. I am motivated to live more intentionally and joyfully after reading this book.
This book was/is so extremely helpful for me! It uses brain research to explain how to activate both sides of a child's brain for optimal emotional and physical development. The authors explained why it's so important to get children to tell about traumatic or just upsetting events in order to process what happened and activate their brains. I've noticed that this is hard for one of my children, which is exactly why he needs me to help him do this! I imagine that reading the book would have been more beneficial than listening to it, but I also have the workbook that I'm working through to reinforce what I learned.
Definitely a 5-star book.
Family Read Alouds
This book was on my cozy read-alouds round up that I made last fall. It took us a little bit to start reading it, and since we read it solely at bedtime, a little while to finish it. I think my daughter enjoyed it more than I did. The story was about a sweet little mouse and her adventures, which were all somewhat disconnected. It felt a little hyper-moralized to me, and that was part of my problem with it.
We read Farmer Boy over the course of several months, and it is probably my 5-year-old's favorite book now! He loved Almanzo's adventures, and we loved supplementing the book with The Playful Pioneers. This is our second time through this book, and to be honest, when I read it the first time with my daughter, who was about 5 at the time, we ran out of steam and gave up when we were nearing the end. Reading it through again when she was older and while we had two little boys in tow made it much more enjoyable. It is filled with description, and that is what makes it a little difficult for young children to take it.
This is another book that was in my cozy fall read-alouds round up. We all really enjoyed Rascal, the story of a young boy growing up during World War I in a somewhat dysfunctional family. Because of his father's lack of guidance and his mother's premature death, Sterling mostly fends for himself. One day, he finds a little raccoon whom he decides to keep as a pet. They become the best of friends, and the raccoon's mannerisms made us laugh on the regular. This book is so full of beautiful nature descriptions and meaningful observations of plant and animal life that it felt like it belonged to our nature study time. I will say that there were a few things I edited out when reading aloud, which almost always happens to us when we read books written a long time ago.
I'm not sure we've read a sweeter, more enjoyable story than Understood Betsy so far in our homeschool. Even the younger boys enjoyed listening to it! Betsy was an overly sheltered child, a delicate flower in the eyes of her doting aunt. But when a change of circumstances rocks Betsy's little predictable world, she learns that she is stronger and braver than she thought.
Five stars, of course.
And as a little note, we did read more picture books, but this post is loooong already, so maybe I'll share those on Instagram instead.
I hope to keep making these posts every month, to help keep myself accountable for reading good books, and to share book suggestions with you. What have you been reading lately?