Cindy Hudson’s on a WOW-Women on Writing Blog Tour, which makes perfect sense ‘cause she’s written a perfectly wonderful book called Book by Book, The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.
Now, why didn’t I think of a Mother-Daughter Book Club? The more I read about Cindy’s book club experiences with her daughters, the more I wished I could turn back the calendar a few years. Guess I’ll just have to wait till I can start a Grandmother-Granddaughter Book Club. In the meantime, I asked Cindy some questions for all of y’all who might want to give this fun idea a try!
Cindy, I love your first part on starting a book club. I don’t think you left any details out, from appropriate ages, to meeting times and places, to good book choices! But what about the big picture? What were the benefits for you and your daughters to being in a book club?
At first we were just loving the time we spent together reading and talking about the book. It was a good way for us to connect when my daughters came home from school. They would get a snack and tell me about their days, and then we would read together and talk about the book. But as time went on there was so much more.
We have each made great friendships in our book clubs with people we would have otherwise not known. We’ve laughed a lot and talked about serious issues that may have been otherwise difficult to bring up. We were forced to think about why we felt a certain way about something we had read, and we learned to explain those thoughts to others. And of course, through it all, there were all those moments reading together. I wouldn’t trade those for anything.
Once you had your book club off the ground, you found ways to keep the club fun and going strong. What were some of your favorite book club activities that really added to the experience?
Activities really can keep a club thriving. They toss you out of your routine and make you look at everything differently, including the people you’re in book club with. Over the years we have done some very fun things.
We read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and went to see a stage production based on the diary at a local children’s theater. We followed that up with dessert and a discussion of the book and the play. We’ve invited authors to our meetings, and we’ve been in the audience when others have spoken at local bookstores.
Once we even organized a summer scavenger hunt. The girls had a list of activities in five different categories. They had to choose two to complete from each category, and they had to go with at least one other book club girl to do it. That summer we visited museums and parks and ate dim sum and went on lots of other outings. The reward for finishing was a weekend trip to the beach.
As a former Girl Scout leader, I so appreciated that you’d include a part about getting over book club bumps! You discussed, for example, touchy issues like when to talk about sex, alcohol, or other subjects that might come up in a book selection. What’s the best strategy for dealing with girls who might be the same age but at different levels of maturity?
That can be tricky. Especially since it’s difficult to know what’s in a book unless someone has read it first. But I believe if there’s a question, you should choose books at the younger maturity level. As a Girl Scout leader myself, I know that you can’t present any book as easy for some of the girls but a challenge for others. That’s why it’s helpful to know that there are a lot of great books with important things to talk about for all maturity levels.
I classify books by age recommendations at Mother Daughter Book Club.com, and I try to match my recommendations to a lower level of maturity. Something I’ve seen a lot lately is teens reading adult books. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that necessarily, but there are so many great young adult books to discover, I think there’s no reason to go beyond those to books that may have issues confusing to teens.
Another aspect of the book that I loved, loved, loved were the book lists! But how did you ever get a bunch of 8 or 9 year old girls to decide on books!? And what’s the best way to ensure that the girls (and let’s not forget those moms!) actually read the books?
As for deciding on books, everyone in a book group really does need to be flexible. I think most readers tend to gravitate to the same genres over and over. For instance, you may really like historical fiction, but read very little science fiction. If someone in your group chooses science fiction, you have to be willing to read it. I know I’ve become much more appreciate of many types of genres after my years in book clubs because I’ve read things I wouldn’t have otherwise.
As for reading the books each time, that requires a bit of flexibility too. Everyone really needs to commit up front that they will read the book each time. That’s the only way you can be sure you’ll have a lively conversation about it when you get together. Of course, things do come up, which is why you have to be willing to bend this rule on occasion. If someone usually reads the books but didn’t one month for some reason, it can be okay as long as you’re reasonably sure they be back in the discussion the next time.
Finally, what’s the best book club memory you have? And would you’re daughters have the same one?
My daughters and I frequently have different favorite moments, but we probably agree on the absolute best memory. In each of my book clubs we went on a weekend retreat when the girls were 13. Both times I remember all of us being wrapped up in fluffy white robes waiting for massages at a spa. It really felt like a coming-of-age moment, and it was very satisfying to share such an enjoyable experience with my daughter and our book club buddies.
Oh, wait! Just one more question! Do you know of any Grandmother-Granddaughter Book Clubs?
You can absolutely have a grandmother-granddaughter book club! I don’t know of any groups where all the members are grands, but I definitely know of groups with some members like that. If you put one together I’d love to hear about it.
Honestly, I’ve just hit the highlights here with Cindy Hudson and her wonderful Book by Book! So, you’ll want to check out her Mother Daughter Book Club site for tons more information. And of course, you’ll want to win her book! Leave a comment or a question (I have a feeling Cindy will be stopping by today!) and you’re entered to win. I won’t draw a name till Monday, ’cause I want all my mother-daughter reading friends to have a chance. Make that all my grandmother, mother, daughter friends. I can’t imagine any better gift to share than the love of reading!