Tips & book recommendations for starting a Mother/Daughter book club!
As much as I love read aloud sessions with my kids , I also know that I can’t read to them forever – although I’ll certain keep trying ;)
As kids get older, the next logical step in having a ‘book relationship’ with them is to start a laid-back parent-child book club.
Why continue to read with them as they get older?
Parent/child reading sessions can be a crucial step in keeping kids reading as they enter their tween and teen years. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to kick-off discussions about issues they will face as they get older that they may not readily want to discuss but will happily talk about if it comes up in a story you are reading together.
Starting a Mother/Daughter Book Club
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
This month, we kicked off our first Mother/Daughter book club!
It came about as a matter of circumstance – my daughter came home telling me about this ‘awesome book’ the same week that I received an email asking me to review the very book she was “dying to read”.
So I thought I would share our tips for starting your own Mother/Daughter book club along with a free printable and some recommended books you & your daughter might enjoy.
A few thoughts about what girls will learn during book club sessions with Mom –
First there’s the basic ‘academic’ learning that still takes place.
I’m frequently being asked ‘what does this word mean?’ as most kids are still building their vocabulary. You can also help them work on their comprehension skills as parents can ask detailed questions about the story to see if your daughter is understaning as she reads.
The second, and more impactful area in my mind, that’s taught are the goals and values that you have as a parent.
As girls get older and progress to more advanced books, newer themes such as relationships, feelings, death and societal issues are included in the stories. Book clubs are great opportunities for moms and daughters to discuss these sometimes touchy topics in a safe way.
Last, starting a book club is something that can grow with your relationship.
It’s an activity you can do together during the tween & teen years and can even be expanded to include other mother/daughter friends or relatives. And book clubs can continue even when your daughter goes off to college or begins her own family.
1. Choose a great book
The first thing to do is decide on a book!
This should be a joint decision and should also be a book that’s written at your daughter’s reading level. I know that sometimes moms might think ‘I’m not sure I want to read a kids’ book’ but there are a LOT of wonderful chapter books and young adult novels that are enjoyed by adults.
Here are few suggestions for books both moms & daughters will enjoy along with affiliate links so you can learn more about each one:
For Girls ages 7 – 9
Ramona and Her Mother –- a wonderful story about the relationship between a 7 1/2 year old and her Mom
Sarah, Plain and Tall –- a shorter book about a woman who becomes a step-mother to two young children in the 1800’s
For Tween Girls
Ella Enchanted -- how would you react if you were given the gift of obedience? An entertaining (fairy) tale of how one girl fights to become her own person. This title made our 25 best book-to-movie ideas for summer reading !
The Daring Book for Girls -- this is actually a non-fiction guide that shares things like how to be a spy, tie a sari and work with tools - TONS of practical knowledge that moms & daughters can learn together!
For Teens (12+)
The Selection (and more in the series) -– we share more about this book below
The Daring Book for Girls -- still a great choice for teen girls! The back of the book reads "For every girl with an independent spirit and a nose for trouble, here is the no-boys-allowed guide to adventure" :)
2. Read the first two chapters together
Just the first two – do them as a read aloud, Mom reading one and Daughter reading the next. Or have Mom read them both if you have a younger girl.
The goal is to get into the story, make sure it’s something you both enjoy and have a quick discussion about the characters, the setting and what you *think* might be coming up!
3. Divide & Conquer
Now split the remaining chapters into 3 sets so you’ll have three more mother/daughter discussions. So if there’s 18 chapters left, each of you will read the next 6 chapters on your own and then discuss them.
Why 3 sets?
It seems to work well with books – there’s always a beginning, middle and end to the story so this gives you a chance to discuss what’s happening in each ‘stage’ of the story if you will.
For a non-fiction book, like the one we recommended above, you might choose to skip around and read different sections for each of your three meetings.
About the book we chose ...
For our book club, we read The Selection by Kiera Cass which is the first in a series.
My daughter would tell you (in her words) it’s a story about a girl (named America) from a lower caste who gets selected to be part of the group that the Prince is going to choose to marry. But she's already in love with another boy so she really doesn't want to marry the Prince.
I'll tell you there's a lot more to the story than that! Moms will be intrigued that the book takes place in the future (after the United States has been bought by another more powerful nation and gone through two more world wars).
Yes, there's definately a love story (and one that will remind us about what it's like for teens to fall in love) but it's also about being true to who you are and not changing for others. It's also a story about making friends and understanding why people might behave in a positive or negative way when they are faced with challenges.
The chapters are quick reads and the characters are very likeable plus it's a very tame romantic story -- lots of kissing but not much more -- which is perfect for the younger set.
And I love some of what I call 'throw back' ideas in the book. For example, cell phones are no longer used in this world -- people have to hand-write notes to each other (love that!). There's also very little violence which I really appreciate since I'm not a big fan of that in the stories we read.
I'm amazed I actually got a shot of my daughter looking at the camera --
Most of the time, she looked like this -- with that "yea Mom, sure take a picture and stop bugging me while I read this" :)
Remember to be flexible and see how it’s going after your first discussion – you might feel that your daughter needs more frequent meetings and if so, make adjustments.
4. Deciding What to Discuss
As you read, you’re looking for two things – first, parts of the story that you think are good jumping off points to larger issues –things you might want to talk about with your daughter.
You might notice similarities in the story and a recent event at her school. Or maybe the book character is in a relationship and you wonder about your daughters views/values with regards to starting a relationship. mark passages or write down questions.
For example, in The Selection, there was quite a bit that focused around meeting the person you will marry so a few of my questions included “What are good qualities in a person you might marry?" and "Do you think it's important to be friends with a person before you date them?"
The second area to keep track of are historical references that may be familiar to you but not to your daughter.
For example, kids of this generation grew up with cell phones but many stories are written in the past when cell phones weren’t available – this is always a fun discussion point – “what do you think would have changed if the characters were able to text each other?”
Ask your daughter to mark/highlight her favorite parts of the section she read & then discuss why she chose those parts. If you have an older girl, ask her to create a few questions that she wants to 'quiz' you on when you get together to discuss the story (you might be surprised at what she asks you!).
Also be sure that she flags any unfamiliar words or events.
5. Connect Meetings to the Story Settings
This is a biggie and what makes the book club fun!
When it comes time to discuss the book, do something fun for your discussion – try to connect where you will host your discussions with some of the places in the book.
For example, during our first reading session of The Selection, there is a passage about strawberry tarts (it’s one of the first instances where America and The Prince begin to connect) so we decided to hold our first book discussion at Starbucks and talk while enjoying our favorite pastry!
We are also reminded multiple times in the story about how much the main character, America, loves to be outside and walk through the gardens, so some of our on-your-own reading and one of our discussions took place outside in the backyard and at a local park.
6. What's Next?
After your last meeting, talk about how the book club went overall --
Are there things you would change the next time?
What was your favorite part of the experience?
Which books do you want to put on your list?
Given that our book is part of a series, you'll probably want to keep reading ;) Here are the other books in the series:
Here's a free printable so you can get started with your own Mother/Daughter Book Club -- I can't wait to hear what you read first!
More Book Ideas You'll Enjoy: