I like to read. I like it even more than watching TV, which baffles my husband and most of my children. If I’m interested in something, my favorite way to learn about it is to find a book (or a dozen books) and read until I’m satisfied. Warning: everything I read last year was either on faith, parenting, or homeschooling – topics that never get old for me. Some of these books were excellent, and I hope you add them to your 2019 reading list.
These are the books I’ve read within the last year or so; you can click the links to find them on GoodReads. I have a very short review/synopsis for each, but if you want to know more, check out the GoodReads link. You can read many, many reviews on that site, and there are links within most of the book descriptions to buy the book on Amazon (Kindle or printed copy) and other sites. There’s also a really cool “Library” button you can click that will show you which libraries in your area have the book on their shelves.
Books on Faith
- Not a Fan, by Kyle Idleman: Quick, easy read with a great message: Jesus wants you to be his follower, not just a fan. This would be a good book to read with your teenager. If you have a teenager who would be willing to do that (I don’t).
- Divine Mercy for Moms, by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet: Great explanation of what the Divine Mercy is, where it came from, and how to incorporate the Divine Mercy prayer and practice into your life as a mother.
- The Virtues We Need Again, by Mitchell Kalpakgian: This might be my favorite book on the list. It explains what the virtues are and how to live them, using a variety of classic literature, from Shakespeare to Mark Twain.
- After Virtue, by Alasdair MacIntyre: If you’re not a philosophy buff, this is a difficult read, but I was able to pick up on the main idea here – mankind’s ideas about virtue have a history, and if you want to understand (and fight) our current culture of radical individualism and relativism, you have to understand that history. There’s a guide for this book called Reading Alasdair MackIntyre’s After Virtue, by Christopher Stephen Lutz, which is at the top of my reading list for 2019.
- Discovering God Together, by Greg and Lisa Popcak: I love these authors, and I love this book. It’s about how to grow in faith together as a family. My favorite parenting book to-date is the Popcak’s Parenting with Grace, which I am trying to read every year until I’m done raising kids. You can catch the Popcaks on Ave Maria/EWTN Radio as well.
- How to be Holy, by Peter Kreeft: I want to be holy, and it’s hard. I think this book has helped me focus on holiness as a goal (THE goal) and given me some practical ways to make progress toward it. I also like Kreeft’s Prayer for Beginners, which I’ve read several times.
- The Little Oratory, by David Clayton and Leila M. Lawler: An oratory is a space you create in your home to pray and display beautiful objects and images related to your (Catholic) faith. I love this idea, and I had an oratory for a while, but I took it down for the sake of practicality (toddlers + candles/statues/vases of flowers = not an environment conducive to prayer). Maybe someday.
- With God in Russia, by Daniel L. Flaherty and Walter Ciszek: This is an amazing story of faith and survival. If you’ve ever thought that what God is calling you to do is just too hard, you need to read this book. Trust me, what Ciszek did was harder.
Books on Parenting
- Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay: I read this because it’s often discussed in foster parenting circles, and my husband and I are taking a class on it this spring. I like it because the tools and strategies make a lot of sense to me, and the authors give some great explanations of why certain popular parenting tactics don’t work (and I’ve failed at using many a popular parenting tactic). If you’re a firm believer in “my way or the highway” parenting, you will probably hate this book – at first.
- Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay: The authors take all of the great advice from Parenting with Love and Logic and apply them to teens. My favorite section is the Q&A at the end.
- Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control, by Heather T. Forbes: A book about how to parent kids who’ve been through trauma (especially useful for foster parents, although I think it could help any parent). Forbes really dislikes Foster Cline and Jim Fay (Parenting with Love and Logic), but to me, many of the Love and Logic principles seem to be in line with what Forbes proposes.
- The Foster Parenting Toolbox, by Kim Phagan Hansel: This is a huge collection of essays and articles on foster parenting and the issues foster parents and foster children face. You get a lot of different perspectives on a lot of different issues, and I think it’s a great read for new or potential foster parents.
- Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, by Mike Berry: Berry talks about his experience as a foster and adoptive parent, which has been extremely difficult and lonely. His primary message is, “You are not alone!” This would be a great encouragement to someone struggling with their foster or adopted children; to someone who isn’t, it was a little scary.
- The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman: If you’ve read the Five Love Languages book, this will be largely familiar, but it was helpful to read how the love languages apply to children. If you’re having trouble figuring out why your child is moody/disrespectful/disobedient/distant/etc., understanding and speaking their love language might make all the difference.
- The Five Love Languages of Teens, by Gary Chapman: I enjoyed this book as well, because teenagers are so different from children and from adults; they truly deserve their own book on this subject. It’s a great reminder that teens DO need us to express our love to them, even though it may not seem like it.
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish: This is my second favorite book on the list. This book is very much in sync with the Parenting with Love and Logic books, but it focuses primarily on how you speak to your children. I am almost done with it, and I’m planning to immediately start re-reading it. There’s a workshop you can purchase, so you can teach a class in your community, so if you’re in western Iowa and want to start a group with me, let me know!
- What Every Child Needs, by Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall: I like the ideas in this book, but it wasn’t spectacular. I didn’t finish it. I would rather read How to Talk so Kids Will Listen again that read the rest of this one.
- Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl, by Dannah Gresh: Scary. Overwhelming. A necessary read for moms with young girls.
- From Santa to Sexting, by Brenda Hunter and Kristen Blair: This book was written by a mother and daughter, which I think is cool. Another good read for moms with young girls.
- I’ll Hold You in Heaven, by Jack Hayford: I got this book because I wanted to be better able to understand and help women who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, abortion, or shortly after birth. But this book was disappointing. The author made several points that are un-Catholic, so as a Catholic, I had a hard time taking him seriously. This is a complex issue, and I felt like he was trying to over-simplify it…because he doesn’t have the tools he needed to be able to treat it properly. I found a list of Catholic books on miscarriage here: http://www.catholicmiscarriagesupport.com/resources/books/. I’m going to read a couple of those and see what I think.
- Jesus on Parenting, by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst: I love the idea of parenting based on how Jesus would parent his children (we’re all his children, right?). But while this book has a lot of great analysis and discussion in it, it lacks practical advice. The author spends a lot of time describing how Jesus interacted with his disciples, which I agree should give me some idea as to how to treat my children, but I needed more “how-to’s”. I read this book twice and still am not sure how I can apply it to my children and my life.
- The Sleepeasy Solution, by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivak: If you have a baby who won’t sleep, you have to read this book. At best, it will fix your sleep issues and change your life; at worst, it will give you hope for a few weeks that will keep you from going off the deep end, at least for a while.
- The Happy Sleeper, by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright: Very similar to The Sleepeasy Solution. Read them both. If you’re sleep-deprived enough, it’ll take at least a couple of these kinds of books to get through to your weary brain.
Books on Homeschooling
- Growing Without Schooling, Volume 1, by John Holt: This is a compilation of several issues of John Holt’s unschooling newsletter from the 70’s and 80’s. Holt, though childless, was a huge advocate for children and for giving children more control over they way they learn. He spent his career observing and teaching children, in and out of school, and is a critic of the modern education system because, he says, it fails to educate. This book is a gold mine of ideas and support for those of us who “unschool.” If you don’t know much about homeschooling, or are suspicious of it, or are doing it, you should read at least one book by John Holt.
- Learning All The Time, by John Holt: As the title suggests, Holt believes that children are learning all the time and that it’s detrimental to confine learning to a certain room or building or time of day. Lots of food for thought, and lots of great practical ideas for unschoolers.
- Teach Your Own, by John Holt: This is very similar to Learning All The Time; Holt gives compelling reasons to “teach your own,” as well as lots of ideas on how to do it successfully.
- Passion-Driven Education, by Connor Boyack: Another author who doesn’t like our education system (for good reason, I think) with ideas on what you can do instead. The basic idea is to find out what your child’s passions or interests are and help them explore those. Great resource for homeschoolers, and a good eye-opener for those who have never questioned our (U.S.) education system.
- Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling, by Sandra Dodd: This is a strange book. Parts of it, I love; parts of it, I disagree with; parts of it make no sense to me at all. The author has a website, sandradodd.com, and this book is basically a compilation of pages from that site. She relates, through a series of essays, how and why she unschooled her three children. I would really enjoy having a conversation with Mrs. Dodd about unschooling, and life, but I don’t think we’d ever be friends.
- The Unschooling Handbook, by Mary Griffith: This is a less-opinionated, better organized version of Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling. A good reference to have on hand if you’re struggling with how to teach a particular concept or subject, but not nearly as interesting to read.
- The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease: I still can’t get my kids to listen to me read aloud, but I did enjoy reading this book. I think that constant exposure to electronics has taken a huge toll on our families and our brains, and I don’t know that the strategies in a 30+ year old book work as well in today’s world as they once did. If I had it to do over, I would never have gotten TVs, tablets, Chromebooks, or smartphones, and we would spend hours a day reading books together. As it is now, I’m not sure whether there’s any going back.
I would LOVE to know what you’ve been reading and what’s on your list for 2019. Leave a comment if you want to share!