Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

March 2012 Reads

For you wonderful new readers, you should know that we are book people. Books are everywhere in our house and I’m constantly trying to figure out more nooks for storing books. I try to post once a month about what we’re reading and I love to hear what books my readers are enjoying, too, so let me know in the comments!

I recently finished Evelyn Waugh’s Helena. I adored it. Waugh is one of my very favorite authors. His most famous novel, Brideshead Revisited, is in my top 5 most favorite books ever. And I also love A Handful of Dust, although, I warn you, it’s so depressing that after finishing it I had to take a 4 hour nap. But Helena isn’t depressing. It’s wonderful. It’s a novel about the life of Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, who discovered the True Cross. The language is delightfully anachronistic (a roman soldier will refer to another as “old chum,” etc.) and Helena is a fantastic character.

After I finished Helena, I started Waugh’s highly recommended, but super super long Sword of Honour Trilogy. I’m only a chapter in and I can tell that I’m going to love it, maybe as much as I love Brideshead. And it’s long enough to keep me busy for a good long time. It’s set in WWII era. As I explained in the Big Ol’ Catholic Reading List, Waugh’s writing was a huge influence on my conversion to Roman Catholicism. Someday, I’ll tell you the whole story.

And, although the cover art is dreadful, I finished the penultimate book in Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle. I promise that this Arthurian historical fiction series isn’t as lame as it looks. Just trust me on this, ok? Ok.

I’m still enjoying Karen Edmisten’s Through the Year with Mary.

And I’m still reading the Blessed John Paul II’s Encyclical Familiaris Consortio during my Holy Hour. It really is amazing.

Daniel has been reading Winnie the Pooh with our 3-year-old (a beautiful edition that my sweet mother-in-law gave our boy for Christmas) and Benjamin is loving it!

I have continued to read him slightly more challenging read alouds like Little House in the Big Woods during bathtime (when his hands are occupied with water play and he can’t run around the room).

Sometimes he really isn’t interested, though, and wants to just read picture books. Should I just let him take the lead on that? I don’t want him to start to feel like read aloud time is a chore, but I also don’t want to read only books that are beginning to be below his level (not that good quality picture books are ever something to leave behind).

My dear friend, Holly (at Whole Family Habits) just wrote a great post about reading to her girls and ways to transition into books with fewer pictures while still keeping your little ones interested. We got to spend some time with Holly and her precious girls during our recent visit to Texas and it was so refreshing to spend a few hours catching up. And, Holly, who takes beautiful photographs, gave me some basic lessons on how to use my Canon Rebel. I’m so excited to experiment with it now that I have a rudimentary knowledge of how to take pictures manually. Maybe all my pictures won’t be blurry anymore? We shall see.

For more posts about books and children, check out 10 Books You Must Read to Your Daughter and 10 Books You Must Read to Your Son (and take a look at the comments as well because readers had all sorts of good recommendations to add).

What are you reading this days? What are you reading to your little ones? Inquiring minds want to know.

13 Comments so far
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Lots and lots of Dr. Seuss these days (my son is 2)- his new favorite is ‘There’s a Wocket in my Pocket.’ We’ve also been loving the art in Jan Brett’s books. Another book with great art (my stipulation for children’s books is great art + great story you don’t mind re-reading a million times) is ‘Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet.
Love that you read out loud during bathtime. I’ve been trying to think of a way to start introducing more advanced books. I think we might start with Uncle Wiggily; that’s a favorite from my childhood.

Comment by Sarah O

B LOVES There’s a Wocket in my Pocket. He likes to come up with his own rhymes for household stuff. And the Jan Brett books are just gorgeous! We have several but I want all of them. I think B’s favorites are Trouble with Trolls and Noah’s Ark.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

We’re just getting into story time here (our son just turned 1 in February) and I just went out and stocked up on some new and old favorites –

The Big Ol’ C book list looks great, I’m getting ready to do RCIA, hopefully this fall, and just finished “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” it was a great read!

Comment by Molly Makes Do

I checked out your blog, Molly, and I love it! We’re in full swing gardening mode here in Florida because it’s already so warm. Tomatoes are already flowering!
And how exciting that you’re doing RCIA this year! Who’s the author of Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic? I’ve heard the title before but can’t remember who wrote it.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas


Thanks for the visit, I just wanted to say that I thnk the Little House books should be on your “boy list” too, Pa and Almonzo are very good and relatable character/role models for young boys!

We’ve had a crazy warm weather streak here this week, and it’s taking ever ounce of self control not to plant because all Iowans know that you really can’t start your gardens until after Easter around here =(

Comment by Molly Makes Do

Ohhh Evelyn Waugh is so good, I’ve had Helena on my to-read list forever! One day I’ve got to read it. And hurray for reading aloud, we’ve just started Pooh too!

Comment by Christy from fountains of home

Waugh is the best! And Helena is a quick read!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

We started chapter books as read-alouds around 4-5, I think. (and although both big kids have enjoyed the Little House books, neither was impressed on the first pass– I had to put them down and try again later 🙂 We did a lot of beautiful folk or fairy tale picture books in the 3-5 zone– good vocabulary, imagination stretching, and usually longer than your average picture book. One chapter book that we read quite early was My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Giles– excellent book, short chapters, lots of animals.
Right now… we are reading The Return of the King with our 7 and 10 year olds. And Have You Seen My Cat? about eighty times a day with our one year old. 🙂

Comment by greenishmonkeys

Well, maybe I should put Little House down for a few months, then. And B does love fairytale books so perhaps I’ll hunt up more of them.

I can’t WAIT til my kids are old enough to hear LOTR! How thrilling.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

With our older girls, we’ve been enjoying the Hobbit as our read aloud every evening. Hubby just got done reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle to our 4 year old (his first full length chapter book! He felt very grown-upish). On my own, I’m reading Style, Sex and Substance, that new book on the modern Catholic woman published by Our Sunday visitor.

Ooooooh, when your kids get older you’ll have to read them Heidi. We just finished that one a few weeks ago and it is lovely!

Comment by Dwija Borobia (@HouseUnseen)

We listened to an audiobook of The Hobbit on our recent trip and Benjamin was only mildly interested. Maybe next year! I can’t wait til he’s ready to delve into it. And I want to read Style, Sex, and Substance! I really like Simcha Fisher and Karen Edmisten.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

I’m reading Wendell Berry, always Wendell Berry.

For Laith’s birthday, we got him the (picture) book “The Camping Trip that Changed America”, and it is so good. It makes me tear up a bit. It’s not uncommon for me to have to curl myself up solo in a room and ugly cry after reading the final few pages of The Incredible Journey, though, so I’m pretty soft.

I love all of your suggestions.

Comment by Amy

Which Wendell Berry are you reading? I’ve read Jayber Crow and The Art of the Commonplace (enjoyed the collection of essays better than the fiction, surprisingly, since it’s usually the other way around.) What would you recommend next?

I haven’t even heard of “The Camping Trip that Changed America.” I’ll have to put it on our library list.

I was sad we didn’t see you during the wedding weekend in Waco!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

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