Being a tween girl in today's plugged in, sexed up, media saturated, fast paced world is far from easy. Being a parent of a tween girl isn't a walk in the park, either.
Psychologist, parenting coach and author Lori Day wrote the book Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More with her now college-aged daughter, Charlotte Kugler, after they experienced the power of mother-daughter book clubs first hand. In the book, Day described her mother-daughter book club, which she formed when her daughter was 8 year-old and lasted for six years, as "one of the happiest and most memorable undertakings of her early parenting years."
Seems to me that happy and memorable experiences with a good dose of learning thrown in, are what pretty much every parent seeks for themselves and their kids. With that kind of endorsement, I foresee a parent-child book club revolution on the horizon.
Creating a long-lasting, beneficial to all parties book club takes some guidance though, and the book offers that. It combines research with practical advice on how to run a club and get girls and moms talking with great recommendations of both books and movies that focus on empowering girls.
Her Next Chapter explains how parents can use book clubs to create a unique environment for not only encouraging reading but also discussing big issues in a way that doesn't feel like a "we need to sit down and talk about big issues" kind of way that parents know often leads their tweens to just shut down.
It's often much easier for kids to talk about issues that come with growing up in the context of what a character in a book or movie is experiencing than opening up right off the bat about their own experience. Day said often the girls do open up as the discussion goes on. It's also easier for girls to process advice when it's offered in the context of options available to a character and not a parental pronouncement of "you really should do X."
It focuses on eight of the biggest challenges facing girls today, such as negative body image, bullying, gender stereotypes, media sexualization, unhealthy relationships, and more.
I love the idea of the book club making both moms and girls feel less alone as they fact these challenges that often feel ginormous to both moms and daughters. Communication is key, and if a mother-daughter book club fosters that, I am all for it. Day notes that book clubs can be great for boys, too, but having a daughter and working on girl empowerment issues were where her interests were rooted. The same principal, however, certainly applies. And if group things aren't your specialty, fear not. I asked Day about doing just a family-based book club and she said that it absolutely has many of the same benefits.
She recommends Roald Dahl books for younger tweens, such as James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. For older tweens who are more advanced readers towards the end of middle school she suggests Life of Pi and The Secret Life of Bees.
Go forth and read with your kiddos, friends! You won't be sorry.
Her Next Chapter is available on Amazon here.
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