Books for Mothers - Industrialization through Modern Times

Books for Mothers - Industrialization through Modern Times

As a young girl, I spent hours lost in other worlds, it was an escape during a hard childhood. Books were my window to other places, better places, and my connection with others who understood hardship. Interestingly, as I grew up and left the difficult home I grew up in, books continued to offer me hope and inspiration...actually, they never stopped. Books have been faithful friends of mine since early childhood. It is part of why I work hard to be sure my own children know and love good stories. 

There is another reason I continue to be a voracious reader. Books for mothers are important. This quote from Miss Charlotte Mason relays some of my own inner thoughts on this topic:

"There is no sadder sight in life than a mother, who has so used herself up in her children's childhood, that she has nothing to give them in their youth. When babyhood is over and school begins, how often children take to proving that their mother is wrong. Do you as often see a child proving to its father that he is wrong? I think not. For the father is growing far more often than the mother. He is gaining experience year by year, but she is standing still. Then, when her children come to that most difficult time between childhood and full development she is nonplussed; and, though she may do much for her children, she cannot do all she might, if she, as they, were growing..."

Finding time to read and books for mothers is hard but worth it.

Friend, I get it. It isn't easy to make time to read. There are children to care for, food to prepare, laundry to fold, and so many other pressing matters in the life of a mom and keeper of the home. If anyone understands, it is me. I work part time in addition to my more traditional roles of motherhood. 

Make time anyway. Bring a book everywhere you go. Even the bathroom. Stash them in baskets around your home. Your bedside, your purse, your favorite place to nurse the baby. Read whenever you have a moment to sit and wait. Designate it as an important task akin to laundry that must be done. You will be amazed how many 10 minute reading sessions will come your way in a week. 

Reading along with your child's history cycle.

Something I began when my eldest started his first year of formal learning was reading books that matched his learning. We study history in the traditional Charlotte Mason manner, where we begin chronologically with our country's history, and work our way forward. Each year, we have a set time period we focus on. I have found that by choosing books for me to also dive into, I internalize the topics my children are studying. I begin to know intimately the people, events, and customs of the era I am sharing with my sons each day. These personal connections I am making help me effortlessly tell than random tidbits to add to our reading together. It allows for deeper conversations and I feel empowered as the teacher to answer many of their questions as they come up. I am not relying on my own far off history lessons (wow, that makes me feel old), but instead, my learning is fresh and recent, my ideas are still forming and taking shape. 


There is something really special about your children realizing you care so much about their learning that you have taken it upon yourself to also study the same thing. 

Where do you find the books for mothers?

Sometimes I stumble across a good one or two books naturally, but typically I research in the same places:

Books for Mothers - Industrialization through Modern Times

Note: These books are intended to be a list for adult women. There are themes like rape, sex, torture, war crimes, and other very difficult topics in many of these books. I choose not to read books with large amounts of cursing or explicit sex scenes purely for the sake of romantic and lustful storytelling, but there are at times cursing and sexual scenes in many of these texts. These books are in no particular order. They span the world at large, all occurring during the 20th century.

  1. God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew
  2. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
  3. Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson
  4. Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington
  5. Grey is the Color of Hope by Irina Ratushinskaia
  6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebccea Skloot
  7. The Courage and Character of Theodore Roosevelt by George Grant
  8. The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford
  9. Witness by Whitaker Chambers
  10. The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin
  11. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
  13. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  14. The Rape of Nanking  by Iris Chang ***This book was a shock to me. It is filled with history not taught in US classrooms. While it is a very detailed book about the horrors of war, I highly recommend this book for learning more about China and Japan during WWII.
  15. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  16. Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zore Neale Hurston
  17. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  18. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  20. Testament of Youth by Vera Britton
  21. Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins
  22. Refugee by Alan Gratz
  23. Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee
  24. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  25. The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick
  26. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  27. Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris
  28. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  29. On Hitler's Mountain by Irmgard A. Hunt
  30. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
  31. Bruchko by Bruce Olsen
  32. Peace Child by Don Richardson
  33. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
  34. The Color of Water by James McBride
  35. The Pull of Stars by Emma Donoghue
  36. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  37. Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikotter
  38. Gulag by Anne Applebaum
  39. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
  40. The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
  41. Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang

If you have books to suggest for this era, leave a comment! I plan to provide a similar list as we move back in time next year and revisit ancient history as well as early US history.

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I read Life & Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng this past year. It is her memoir of imprisonment during the Chinese cultural revolution. It would fit nicely on this list.

Shannon B

This is such a great list and a wonderful idea to read alongside of what your boys are studying! Making learning come alive for everyone! I had a very uninterested history teacher in high school and therefore I learned little to nothing except for how to regurgitate info to pass the tests, so I’m looking forward to learning so much alongside my girls!

Melissa M

Laura, thank you so much for suggesting this book by David Shibley. I will take a peek.


Great list! If you want more about WW2 in the Pacific, I highly recommend Bloody Buna. It’s about the Japanese moving south in the Pacific and the threat they posed to Australia (FYI, my grandfather was there and read the book. He was impressed with the memories it brought back).

Laura Brown

Thank you for sharing this idea! I’m excited to add this to my rhythm as a home educator


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