Start a mother-daughter book club
It has been said that children learn to read on the laps of their parents, but what about when that child learns to read independently? How do you foster a love of reading when it's no longer a completely shared activity? One way to bring your love of reading into shared quality time with your more experienced reader is to start a mother-daughter (or mother-son, or father-son, or....you get the picture) book club. It's also a great way to get together with other mother-daughter pairs to discuss the books and have some good, old-fashioned girl time.
If you're going to do this, it's important to lay down some ground rules. Some you might want to consider:
Keep your group small:
he smaller the group, the easier it will be to find dates to get together that suit everyone's schedule (more on scheduling later) and you'll better be able to have a meaningful discussion.
Choose readers at the same level:
When it comes to the daughters in the club, be sure to choose young people at roughly the same reading level. This way, you'll better be able to books that everyone will be able to comprehend and enjoy.
Don't meet too often:
One reason many book clubs crumble is that they decide to meet too often. The goal of the club is to have fun, not to become a chore, just another thing to try to fit into an already-busy schedule. Especially when you are dealing with kids who have school homework, and other after-school activities to manage, it's important not to make the club a burden. Also, with young readers, you may need to give them more time to read the book. Once every 6 weeks or even every other month is probably manageable.
Make an evening of it!
Depending on the book you have chosen to read, your meeting can take on a different theme each month. Chocolate treats for a discussion of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, perhaps? How about Turkish delight when reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Adding elements of theme to y our book club meetings can help to bring the books even more to life.
Let the young readers lead the discussion
It can be a challenge for moms to fight the urge to guide the conversation, but in my view it's best to let the girls steer the ship. Of course, everyone should participate, but you will learn far more about your daughters if you sit back a bit and let them take the reins.
Choose your books mindfully:
To ensure that everyone gets to read the kind of books she likes, take turns picking the book each month. It's probably best to agree on some ground rules about choosing the books to ensure that everyone is on the page (pun intended). Perhaps you want to agree on a genre -- or on a genre to exclude -- for example. It might be best to start with easier books to get everyone into the groove (something like Harry Potter or something else with pop culture tie-ins perhaps) and then move on to things like classics or current bestsellers, if everyone is in agreement. Don't shy away from tough subjects. As long a you know the young girls can handle tougher themes (such as those in books like To Kill a Mockingbird or Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret) it's perfectly acceptable to choose books that aren't watered down. You'll get some great conversations going that way, and it can be the perfect opportunity for your daughters to ask questions about topics they might otherwise be a little intimidated to broach.
To get you started, I've got a great recommendation for you. Irena's Children, published by Simon & Schuster Canada, is the narrative non-fiction story of a woman who, despite the incredible risk, managed to save 2,500 children living in the Warsaw ghetto from the wrath of the Nazis. Simon & Schuster has done something that is tailor-made for a mother-daughter book club: they have published both an adult version of the book and a YA version. Both tell the same story, but from a slightly different slant, which is perfect for discussing such a heavy topic with a variety of age groups. (Click the images below for more information on each edition).
Happy reading and sharing!