Opening and Closing Books With Your Daughter

When Lilly was eight-years-old, she and I started a mother/daughter book club with a group of friends. We took turns choosing the tomes and met up to discuss them once a month. As time marched forward, the meetings dwindled to every few months and the book choices grew more mature along with our girls. These were some of the loveliest afternoons I've spend with friends and with my daughter. We bonded over topics both heavy and light-hearted, shared cookie recipes and modeled something special to our girls. We made an example that reading is important.  Mother/daughter relationships have value. And having girlfriends can fill your life with joy.

Lori Day had a similar experience. For six years, she and her daughter benefitted from a mother/daughter book club that she and a friend had created. Lori was so moved by the experience that she's written about it in her fabulous book, Her Next Chapter. In the book, Lori draws from her experiences as an educator, mother, and book club founder to offer tools for parents and girls to start their own clubs. She also suggests that mother/daughter book clubs can be used to combat the struggle girls face with body image, bullying, gender stereotypes, media sexualization and unhealthy relationships. The book also offers discussion questions, activities and recommendations to empower our daughters.

"Her Next Chapter outlines how mothers can use the magic of books to build girls’ confidence and sense of possibility as leaders, allies, and agents of change. A list of further resources and reflections and observations from Day’s now-adult daughter, Charlotte, round out this indispensable resource for anyone who cares about, teaches, or works with girls."

Reading has always been a transformative and necessary activity for me. I need it when I'm bored, sad, tired, angry, lonely or joyful.

I pretty much always need it.

Now, I am watching my daughter grow up with the same interest in reading for pleasure and comfort. When we first started that book group six years ago, Lilly said, "I don't like reading, Mom." Now, she comes to me every week with a request for a new book suggestion. She reads in bed at night and stretched across couches during the day. We share a Kindle account so I know what she's reading at any given time and we can talk about the books, the characters and the sticky, challenging topics each new story brings up. We've managed conversations around sex, peer relationships and death. Death has been a looming and insistent subject in our house lately as we all wonder about what life will be like if the menacing little aneurysm behind my left eye blows, and my children, like my best friend from college's children, are left to grow up without a mother.

Our mother/daughter book club of two has allowed Lilly and I safe ground to explore her worries and my fears in a way that frames our story in tiny shards that are flaked across the landscape of the imaginary instead of the harder, real life pains that we cannot close like a book.

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    Juliet C. Bond

    Juliet C. Bond is a writer and professor at Columbia College in Chicago. Her first book, "Sam’s Sister," was published in 2005, and has sold over 50,000 copies. She went on to collaborate with Newberry winner Joyce Sidman to publish the stage adaptation of "This is Just to Say." Juliet’s shorter works can be found in "The Prairie Wind," at storystudiochicago.com and citymusecountrymuse.com. Juliet serves as the Welcome Coordinator for The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Illinois, and has had the pleasure of working under the tutelage of award winning authors including; Jane Yolen, Jane Hamilton, Laurie Lawlor and Audrey Niffinegger. She chose the name for this space as an homage to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony whose hard work on gender equality serve as daily motivation to continue fighting for girls and women everywhere.

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