May is here and Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Whether you are looking for a good fiction read about moms, looking for encouragement in your day-to-day mothering of little ones, or are a mother looking for ways to connect with a tween or teen daughter, we’ve got some recommendations for you…
Mother – Daughter Journals
Tina: Several years ago I came across the concept of a mother-daughter journal in a parenting book I was reading. I finally implemented the idea a few years ago. I bought a little hard back, spiral-bound journal and a few times a month I would pull it out and create a page or two for my girl.
The pages I create contain simple thoughts and something decorative. I’ve used all of the following: Stickers, quotes, stamps, poems (some of which I re-wrote just for her), small coloring cards, song lyrics, and photographs. Sometimes the pages relate to something going on in her life: the play she’s in, something she’s working on for school, or a hard conversation or situation we are working through together. Sometimes they are prayers I pray for her, a memory from the past, a hope for the future and often just a simple I love you.
For those who want more of a writing journal and less of a crafty, decorative one, here are a few other possibilities:
Deepen: A Christian Mother-Daughter Journal by Andrea Gardiner — My daughter gave me this one for Mother’s Day last year and I’ve enjoyed the more thought-provoking, deeper questions it asks.
Just Between Us by Meredith and Sofie Jacobs — This journal is simply fun, featuring quizzes and other lighthearted question prompts.
Stephanie: My daughter (13) and I have used a journal for three years now. For us, this journal is a place where she can share hard situations and ask difficult questions that are embarrassing or challenging to share in verbal words. She knows that the journal is always in my room and she is free to write in it at any time. She knows that it is protected and private.
For me, it helps me respond with more kindness, calmness and encouragement. I’m less likely to over-react with fear or anger or whatever. Taking the time to write out words allows processing and slower thought that builds our relationship instead of tearing it down.
READS FOR MOMS
Tina: Last year I read Gardenias for Breakfast by Robin Jones Gunn and it resonated deeply with me. This novel is the story of a mother, Abby, and her twelve-year-old daughter who take a road trip together. Abby has high hopes that the trip will bond her daughter and herself together but things don’t quite go as planned. I found the book an encouraging reminder that though my plans to build relationship with my girl don’t always turn out in the ways I wish, God often brings His good in unexpected ways.
One of my very favorite books is The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate. The main character, Tandi, is a mother who has made a string of bad decisions that have landed her and her two kids adrift in a small town on Hatteras Island. I love the slow unfolding of Tandi’s story, as she is changed by the prayers of the past and a community of people in the present who care for her, support her, and help her choose a new direction for her life.
Stephanie: I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Prayer Box. In a month, I’m hosting a gathering around this book with fellow moms. It refreshes and encourages my heart every time I read it. My husband and I spent our 15-year-anniversary on Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks of North Carolina because of this book (And the whole series :-))
Lisa Wingate’s Carolina Heirloom Series:
- The Sea Glass Sisters (prequel to The Prayer Box, but can be read later)
- The Prayer Box
- The Tidewater Sisters
- The Story Keeper
- A Sandy’s Seashell Shop Christmas: An Outer Banks E-short
- The Sandcastle Sister
- The Sea Keeper’s Daughters
In my parenting, and to read aloud to my girls (and to read on my own) I’ve loved Eight Cousins and Rose In Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. The Campbell family in these two books have been a delight to know and spend time with and I highly recommend this duo. Little Women is also a favorite book that has encouraged my mothering and the new movie is FABULOUS.
Spring 2020 additions: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a book that I would hand to just about anyone. It is simply beautiful, rich with meaning and depth, and encouraging for the soul. Set in England in 1946, the story walks through post-war London and the Channel Islands, focusing on the German Occupation of Guernsey. The story is told through letters exchanged between a London author and residents of Guernsey. Netflix made a movie and they did an admirable job.
I’m reading Guernsey (our nickname because the title is a mouthful) with my teen daughter. My son read it last month and then we watched the movie. As we’ve walked through this quarantine life, this story has been a comfort. I’ve felt the same kindred connection with Narnia books and the Pevensie children who lived through a different type of quarantine, separation, stress and anxiety during World War II. I get it in a more real sense than before. This is not war, but it is still difficult and this book has been a comfort and encouragement to fight for community, to laugh, to do good, love well, and create beauty.
The Haven Makers Series by Robin Jones Gunn ~ I miss my friends. Becoming Us & Being Known are every-day-ordinary books about friendship, family, community and how we are all in the process of becoming all that God made us to be. Life is messy and complicated, but oh so sweet when we choose to love and be loved. We need each other and these stories make me thankful for what I have and strengthen my resolve to create life-giving community around me.
Tina: When I was in the midst of mothering two young kids, suffering from sleep deprivation and overwhelmed by the never-ending round of household chores and mothering tasks, a friend encouraged me to read Rachel Jankovic’s devotionals: Loving the Little Years and Fit to Burst.
Jankovic wrote these in the midst of her own years of mothering little ones and her words ring true. These devotionals are bite-sized, perfect to sit down and read in only a few minutes. But, they are also filled with encouraging truths that both challenged me on my good days gave me priceless encouragement on my weary days.
My other go-to author for advice about mothering is Sally Clarkson. She has a wide variety of titles dealing with parenthood and they are all well-thought out, based on Scriptural principles and don’t make you feel like a terrible mother as you read them. For those who prefer listening to reading, Sally has a podcast – At Home with Sally.
Stephanie: Sally Clarkson is also a favorite of mine. As a mom, I’ve so appreciated The Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. She wrote it with her daughter, Sarah, and I read it throughout the year. Each chapter features a month of the year so it’s perfect to pull out as the year progresses to assess the “life” in our homes.
Also from the Clarkson Family:
- The Life-Giving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey
- The Life-Giving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time
- Girl’s Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendships in a Lonely World by Sally, Sarah, & Joy Clarkson
I love every one of these.
As we’ve entered the teenage years, I sometimes feel like all I do is have conversations with my kids. It’s quite draining, to be honest, but so important. I’ve owned Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood for many years. I’ve appreciated it over the years, but now it has dusted itself off the shelf and it’s so so good. Carolyn Mahaney wrote it with her adult daughter, Nicole. It’s great.
I really appreciate Emily P. Freeman’s books and I would recommend every single one. In the last year my soul has been refreshed by her podcast, The Next Right Thing. I remember being encouraged with this principle in a mothering series when my children were young, “Just do the next right thing.” This podcast starts with the concept but covers so much that refreshed me in so many facets of my very busy and often wearying life.
This Podcast became this book: The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions if you’d rather have a book in hand. I’ve already given away 10 copies.
Spring 2020 additions: Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy is one of my favorite books. HOWEVER, this spring is has been one of the most encouraging books I’ve re-read. The writing is beautiful, but more than that, it is a book about home and beauty and faith. We’re all home and I’m telling you that this is book is pure gold to order for yourself or for women in your life.
Also, a poetry book that I savor: To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue. A lovely gift for others…or yourself. It has been a comfort.
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And, last but not least, a quick list of some of our favorite literary mothers.
Tina: Molly Weasley— Re-reading the Harry Potter books as a Mom I find myself particularly enjoying the scenes Mrs. Weasley shows up in. She may not be a main character but she makes her presence felt in wonderful ways.
Mrs. Murry from Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time Quintet and Mrs. Austin from her Austin Family Chronicles — Both of these moms listen well and speak with grace. I read these books as a teenager and marveled that the moms didn’t feel the need to solve all their daughter’s problems for them. They also let their daughters express doubt about things like faith and life and death and answered their questions without cliches but with true grace. Re-reading them as a mom of a teen daughter, these books remind me that what is often needed most is a listening ear and a gentle willingness to receive the emotions that tumble out of our daughters.
Marmee March — My daughter’s favorite audio book is Little Women and we’ve watched several movie versions together. I’m always amazed at how Marmee handles tempestuous Jo, helps anxious Meg gain confidence, gently encourages Beth, and manages to keep Amy and Jo from irreparably damaging their relationship.
Stephanie: Little Women and Marmee’s wisdom are helping me so much as I’ve mothered my girls — especially as they have become a teen and a tween. And, Molly Weasley — also a favorite.
Marilla Cuthbert — I think Marilla is not as heralded as she should be. She was exactly who Anne needed. What I admire most is that she allowed herself to be changed by Anne just as Anne was changed by her. That’s really the goal, right? We refine each other in our families. We’re all a work in progress.
These mothers may be fictional but we’ve enjoyed all that they’ve taught and reminded us of as we’ve read them.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the irreplaceable moms, grandmas, aunts and so so many women who have mothered and cared for children, teens, and adults that God has placed in their path — you are seen and so appreciated.
Stephanie & Tina
P.S. We’d love to hear back from all of you!
- What literary mothers have you particularly enjoyed?
- Do you have any encouraging reads for Moms, either fiction or non-fiction?
- And, do you have any recommendations for other mother-daughter journals or ways of connecting with your girls?
Comment below or share on Instagram @literaturethreads
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