Katie Fitzgerald recommends three books about books that will inspire moms who love to read.
One of my favorite categories of books to read is books about the reading life. Book recommendations, reflections on reading choices, advice on reading with children: I love it all. There are quite a few books out there of this type, but three I read recently have risen to the top of my list.
Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson is a combination memoir and collection of book lists. Clarkson looks back on her childhood and teen years to trace how she became a book lover, and she also provides reading recommendations for a whole variety of purposes: cultivating imagination, reading aloud, inspiring wonder, calling to action, etc. Her lists include classic titles everyone recognizes, as well as lesser-known books I’ve never seen recommended anywhere else.
Among the titles she highlights are many books about the Christian faith. Though some of the books don’t support Catholic teaching (Clarkson is Anglican), many others are works written by early Church fathers and saints, as well as Catholic authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, and Anthony Esolen. This book can be read straight through, but it works even better as a handbook kept on the nightstand to dip into whenever you need a book recommendation.
Mitali Perkins approaches reading from a different perspective in Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls. The book is organized according to the seven virtues and their corresponding vices, with one book representing each virtue. Included are beloved books like Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, and Little Women.
For each title, Perkins makes the case for why adults should continue to read these books and share them with their kids, even if they include flawed characters or outdated ideologies. She also makes references to the writings of saints, Pope Francis, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church to point out how reading these books can enrich a reader's spiritual life. Perkins strikes a nice balance between research, personal anecdotes about reading with her own children, and thoughtful literary analysis.
Finally, I want to recommend Mothering by the Book: The Power of Reading Aloud to Overcome Fear and Recapture Joy by Jennifer Pepito. The author reflects on lessons learned about parenting from the books she has read aloud to her kids. Specifically, she focuses on fears and anxieties she experienced at various stages of her motherhood and how certain books restored her joy. This is the only book I’ve ever seen discuss the benefits of reading aloud for the mom who does the reading, and I loved that perspective.
I also enjoyed the mix of children’s books the author chose to illustrate each point in her parenting journey, which included some classics and some lesser-known titles. The author is a homeschooler, so there is a slight emphasis on home education, and her theology is sometimes not completely compatible with Catholic teaching, but any mom who reads aloud with kids can gain insight from reading this book.
If you’re a bookish mom, whether you’re looking to add books to your reading list or to gain new insight into the books you’ve read in the past, these three titles are sure to be welcome additions to your bookshelves. Happy reading!
Copyright 2023 Katie Fitzgerald
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.