Categorized as: Girls’ Learning and Education

Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Enrich Reading and Relationships

Years ago, as the working mother of a young daughter, I sometimes struggled to achieve that elusive work/home “balance” women often speak of wistfully and hold up as the ultimate validation of their success within the frameworks of modern feminism. I looked for ways to spend “quality time” with my child when I felt I did not spend enough actual time with her. For the most part, working in schools allowed me to more or less share my daughter’s academic calendar and routine, keeping similar hours as her, although I always brought home a lot of work.

One of the best and most memorable undertakings of those years was the formation of a mother-daughter book club, a collaboration with my daughter and four other mother-daughter pairs that would last for six years. I remember noticing how few of my daughter’s books had female protagonists, and of the ones that did, how few of those portrayed women and girls in strong roles. I noticed that girls did not seem to mind reading books about boys, but that boys had no interest in—and in fact avoided—reading books about girls. I started talking to other mothers, teachers, and colleagues about this, and found that they all observed the same behavior, and all felt frustrated by it.

Research supported my observation. For example, in 1996, a wonderful movie came out: the film version of Matilda by Roald Dahl. Great book, great movie. But the movie bombed at the box office, and its production company went on record saying they would produce no more movies starring girls, because they were money losers. Girls went to see the movie but boys stayed home, and thus the potential market was cut in half. This was the same dynamic that happened with books about girls. I recall a lot of mothers talking about this and feeling sad and outraged. Everyone wondered whether the Harry Potter series, which had just begun at the time our book club formed, would be receiving the same voracious following if it were about a Harriet rather than a Harry.

Around the same time, a woman named Shireen Dodson wrote a book called The Mother-Daughter Book Club, and another called 100 Books for Girls to Grow On. The Concord Bookshop devoted its storefront window to a display of Dodson’s books, as well as some of the books Dodson recommended girls read, all of which focused on strong female role models. As my daughter and I walked past the bookshop, the display in the window beckoned to us and we went inside. My daughter said, “I want to do that!”

Thus began the club. Over time, as the girls got older, the mothers handed over the reigns to the girls, who chose the books we would read together each year. At that point we did not focus exclusively on female protagonists, but simply on good literature that was not being covered in school. I can say without a doubt that the mother-daughter book club was the most extraordinary formative experience in my relationship with my daughter, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to any mothers looking for ways to expose their young daughters to female-centric literature, and to enrich their emotional bonds with their daughters.

And here is what my daughter, Charlotte, wrote for her monthly newspaper column on our book club:

     When I was in third grade, my mother and I helped found a mother-daughter book club, which has endured to this day. My mom joined with the four mothers of my best friends at the time, and together we created the club. The mothers agreed that their camaraderie with each other was as important as the social relationships between the girls because this would keep the club stable, and would provide a framework of support for my friends and I as we matured into young women. They felt it best to start early so we could develop these feelings of trust and dedication to the club and each other over time.

     Since I was an only child with no extended family nearby, my mom wanted to find another way to implement the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” She felt she and the other chosen mothers could raise us together in a special and meaningful way, with the good values and confidence necessary for us to become strong young women. Part of the reason she wanted to start this club was because it would always be a place where my friends and I, as teenagers, would feel comfortable sharing our thoughts and lives in the presence of other caring, experienced women.

     We wanted to form a book club, specifically, because we all had a passion for reading, and we agreed that for my friends and I, the reading we did in the club would be additional enrichment to what we got in school. When we were all students at Alcott, we read “kid books,” but now in middle school, we feel comfortable moving on to more abstract, higher-level reading. We have reached a point currently, as eighth graders, where we are transitioning to reading adult novels in the club.

     The discussions we engage in during the meetings often begin as conversations about problems in the text that the protagonist encounters and overcomes, and inevitably shift seamlessly to conversations about similar problems we have experienced and dealt with while growing up. I have always loved this aspect of our meetings, as it allows for everyone to empathize with each other and create a common thread of understanding related to the books and our experiences and daughters and mothers.

     Our book club still maintains the same structure as it has for almost six years, with few exceptions. We meet on the first Friday of every month for dinner and book discussion, and we take turns hosting at our houses. The hosting daughter makes up questions and leads the discussion. We used to keep a scrapbook with a page devoted to each book as a memento of our meetings, but as homework steadily increased in middle school, we had to let this go. My favorite tradition is going to a B & B for the first meeting of the year in October. It gives us a chance to reconnect after the summer, share our favorite summer reads, and plan the list of books and rotation of houses for the upcoming year. When we first started the club, the mothers created the reading list, choosing books that portrayed females as strong protagonists in a variety of genres. Now that the girls are teenagers, we all work together to give input into forming the list. When we pick books, we don’t choose anything covered in school or anything that many members have read before. We also integrate multicultural books, modern and classic novels, and short stories into our range of material.

     We are now in our sixth year together, and our meetings have always been, and will remain, a highlight of my month. Regardless of how hectic our lives are or how many times we have to reschedule the meeting date, we try never to miss a month. In the fall of 2000 we began as five mother-daughter pairs, but busy lives and divergent interests did not allow the original group to continue. However, the remaining three pairs are now carrying on with a renewed sense of connection and devotion to our club, which I believe will take us far in the years to come.

     In the time since the club was founded, other mothers and daughters in Concord have been inspired by us to start their own book clubs as well. I feel happy to know that there are other people who love to read, and who also care about the importance of companionship, nurturance, and values gained through being part of a mother-daughter book club. This club has served as an outlet for my passion for literature, and has provided me with both emotional support and the company of good friends for six years. I hope it will continue to do so for many more. I have realized lately that my feelings of dedication and gratitude towards the club come not only from  reading enjoyable books, but as much from the members themselves, and it pleases me to know that in return, I am helping to contribute to the experiences of everyone else.

     One of my friends in the book club has two cats, just as I do.  For Christmas one year I gave her a t-shirt that said “Books…Cats…Life is Good,” and got one for myself as well.  I do not know what life has in store for me, but hopefully there will be plenty of books and cats and good friends, and if I ever have a daughter of my own, a mother-daughter book club for the next generation.

Here is the book list, by grade:

3rd Grade Books 4th Grade Books 5th Grade Books
The School Mouse Caddie Woodlawn The Time Bike
Dick King Smith Carol Ryrie Brink Jane Langton
Charlotte’s Web Goodbye, Vietnam The Gypsy Game
E.B. White Gloria Whelan Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Sarah Plain and Tall Ella Enchanted Island of the Blue Dolphins
Patricia Maclachlan Gail Carson Levine Scott O’Dell
Toliver’s Secret Matilda Julie of the Wolves
Esther Wood Brady Roald Dahl Jean Graighead George
Harriet the Spy The Fledgling A Single Shard
Louise Fitzhugh Jane Langton Linda Sue Park
Laura Ingalls Wilder (biography) The Egypt Game Where the Ground Meets the Sky
William Anderson Zilpha Keatley Snyder Jacqueline Davies
The Family Under the Bridge Bud, Not Buddy
Natalie Savage Carlson Christopher Paul Curtis
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons Flip-Flop Girl
Barbara Cohen & Bahija Lovejoy Katherine Paterson
6th Grade Books 7th Grade Books 8th Grade Books
Jacob, Have I Loved A Separate Peace an Agatha Christie book
Katherine Patterson John Knowles of your choice
When My Name Was Keoko Chu Ju’s House Life of Pi
Linda Sue Park Gloria Whelan Yann Martel
Hannah, Divided The Invisible Thread A High Wind in Jamaica
Adele Griffin Yoshiko Uchida Richard Hughes
The Incredible Journey The Red Pony E. B. White essays
Sheila Burnford John Steinbeck
Seedfolks a selection of short stories The Secret Life of Bees
Paul Fleishman Guy de Maupasant, etc. Sue Monk Kidd
Crispin: The Cross of Lead Chasing Vermeer
Avi Blue Balliett
Ashes of Roses Whale Rider
Mary Auch Witi Ihimaera
Fair Weather Shadow Spinner
Richard Peck Susan Fletcher

Since writing this page back in 2011, I have written a new book entitled Her Next Chapter, co-written with my daughter Charlottte Kugler, published by Chicago Review Press.  Her Next Chapter is about our own mother daughter book club experience focusing on how you can use mother daughter book clubs to help in raising strong women.   Available through bookstores nationally on May 1, 2014, you can check out my website www.motherdaughterbookclubs.com, Amazon or your favorite bookseller to get a copy today.

The Gender Pendulum: How the Free Market Economy Creates Gender Polarization

This piece is part of a special series on the End of Gender. This series includes bloggers from Role/RebootGood Men ProjectThe Huffington PostSalonHyperVocalMs. MagazineYourTangoPsychology TodayPrincess Free ZoneThe Next Great Generation, and Man-Making.

The day I met Jean Kilbourne I was in Dallas attending the International Boys’ School Coalition’s annual conference. Ms. Kilbourne showed the large international audience of mostly men and a few women her groundbreaking video, “Killing Us Softly,” about advertising’s representation of femininity in mass media, and how damaging it is to the self-esteem of girls and women and to the ways boys and men view them.

I remember sitting in the dark auditorium, feeling awkward amidst my male colleagues, watching the images of dismembered and scantily clad female body parts advertising liquor and cars and possibly orange juice flash across the screen in dizzying succession. Ms. Kilbourne’s voice never rose, remaining coolly descriptive as it explained the relationship between these images and the objectification and ultimate dehumanization of women. There was no need for theatrical rhetoric when pictures spoke so many words.

Is it any wonder that the billboards and magazines that sexualize girls and women—photoshopping them ironically to the brink of anorexic death and the illusion of eternal youth—turn up living and breathing and walking down school hallways in their cheek-bearing cutoff shorts and t-shirts spray painted over push-up bras? Or that 90% of thirteen – fourteen-year-old boys in a Canadian survey admitted to having watched hard core Internet porn, with one-third of those young boys reporting they watched it “too many times to count?” Executive summary: Score one for free speech and deregulation, zero for the human race.

On Halloween, these young unwitting female consumers of craptastic media messages will take to the stage as slutty devils or slutty witches or slutty nurses, competing via self-objectification for the superficial attention of male schoolmates who eagerly anticipate and cheer on the spectacle. And be advised: October 31, National Dress Up As A Hooker Day, is now moving into the elementary schools. It joins fellow new arrivals there that include sexting; the latest growing demographic for lingerie and cosmetic purchases; porn viewing by the under-10 set; and the replacement of dating (which never belonged in elementary school in the first place) by the hook-up culture. I will not try too hard to think of what I’ve left out.

What we are witnessing is the triumph of the free market economy over any iota of concern for the emotional and physical wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of society—our children. Parents are increasingly giving up, resigned that their kids live in a fallen world. Battered and beleaguered educators continue reeling from the inverse relationship between in loco parentis demands placed upon them by bureaucratic legislation, and reduced funding to pay for the execution of said demands.

It is unclear to me who will be the new children whisperers if we can ever wrestle our kids from the clutches of all the purveyors of pop culture who stand to make a buck from exploiting them and pitting them against each other. To everyone who assigns this daunting task to parents, that is analogous to asking them to make sure their children don’t breathe any pollution or get washed away in a flash flood somewhere on this warming planet, because the oil industry and all its pimps and minions are not responsible for these circumstances.

If there is any hope of rescuing the pendulum as it swings into orbit around Mars, caring adults must join together when children are very young to create a new foundation for the future of male-female relationships. As a human society, we need to raise and educate girls and boys with fewer gender-specific limitations and stereotypes, and a greater awareness that life is better for both genders when they can support, rather than exploit, each other’s vulnerabilities.

What would this kind of brave new world look like? For one thing it would look a lot less gender polarized than it does right now, as can be seen in the flaming comment threads on just about any article in the blogosphere related to gender equality or the problems being encountered by either males or females in society today. When does this polarization start? I think it starts from birth, or perhaps as much as four months before, when a baby’s sex can be determined by ultrasound.

From the moment a baby’s genitalia are categorized, everything else in his or her life is also categorized. Suddenly boys are swimming in an ocean of blue, while girls are transported into the Pepto Bismol world of princessified clothes, sparkly toys that don’t do anything, make-up for preschoolers, and extra-special girl Happy Meals. Girls fall down a rabbit hole of beauty propaganda from which they may never emerge, while boys are shepherded down their own toy aisles where the adventure games, science kits, and all the colors of the rainbow except pink have gone to live.  Adults who are naïve to these issues reinforce the cycle that the marketers have set in motion, making sure that they buy “boy” or “girl” clothes and toys. Just so there is no confusion, these are all labeled and occupy separate sections of stores and catalogs. Company profits double, while girls’ possibilities shrink.

Once kids go to school, girls quickly gain advantage. Their learning styles and activity levels are better suited to the design of American public schools and the preferences of predominantly female teachers, and they mature more quickly than boys. Boys start falling behind in multiple ways…for example, their grades are lower, they are less often the leaders of clubs, and they are almost entirely disappearing among high school valedictorians. In college admissions, many schools are seeing an applicant pool that is 40% male and 60% female.

Meanwhile, something else interesting starts to happen. Right around the onset of puberty, the pretty pink princesses morph into pretty-obsessed Lolitas. Competing for the attention of boys pits girls against each other, leading to the “mean girl” phenomenon that, perhaps ultimately, results in some of the difficulties women have supporting each other. It is not hard to see why we have so few female elected officials or CEO’s when women tend to view other successful women as too aggressive and less competent than men, and undermine them rather than help them gain power.

I wonder…is there possibly a relationship between boys being dominated by girls academically, and in turn objectifying them to degrade them and take them down a peg? In the adult world, do men who feel insecure about their roles vis-à-vis women in 2011 have a greater need to pornify them?

If girls have been fed a passive role by adults—the role of being gazed upon and focusing heavily on their looks—while boys have been guided to interact more actively with their environment for their whole childhoods, are they all set up for the polarized, exploitative adult gender behaviors revealed in Jean Kilbourne’s video, and the anger and scorn ­­­spewed out in comment threads on the internet every day?

Men are still the power brokers. Has the exploitation of women grown this exponentially because men are angry with women, and have been messaged to view them as sexual objects? And do women enable their own treatment by men because they are so brainwashed by sexualizing media while young that they objectify themselves as teens and adults, believing their bodies to be their most important assets, trading on the fleeting nonsense of “erotic capital,” and therefore setting themselves up for adult lives of dissatisfaction?

It all comes down to the timeless value of respect…self-respect and respect for others. Lack of respect can be found all the way from the neighborhood playground to Capitol Hill, and the degradation of norms we all hear about is not slowing down. We have to teach young girls and boys media literacy and how to deconstruct the messages the profiteers are sending them. We have to teach them to have authentic agency in their own lives. We absolutely must teach them respect.

Women must learn greater respect for their own talents and abilities, neither of which are best spent chasing youth, thinness, and sexual desirability 24/7. They must become more supportive of each other’s aspirations, and begin to help each other manage the aging process with greater serenity and dignity. Mutual respect among girls and women should be encouraged by adults beginning when girls first snatch the silver tiaras off each other’s heads.

Men must recognize and oppose the damage that is done to women, to themselves, and to their relationships by refusing to participate in the social construct that women are there to be looked at and sexually acquired. Women actually need to hear from men that their faces and bodies are not all that they are, and that they are loved, appreciated and valued for their insides.

We must all band together if we are to rise above the debasement we all suffer by the divisive market-driven world we’ve created.

 This article is reprinted with permission from The Good Men Project and The Huffington Post.

 

It’s Time for the Global Village to Stand Up for Our Children

When Abercrombie & Fitch recently launched their pushup padded bikini top for girls aged 8 to 12, something inside me finally broke. My anger was volcanic, flowing through friends and family, spewing onto Facebook and across Twitter. For an entire day I searched plaintively for others who could understand my disillusionment.

I found a few soul mates, in person and on the Internet, but what I mostly found was the screaming silence of indifference. I wanted to shake people, to shout at them to wake up and take a look around, to ask them to stop playing with their iPhones for a moment and pay attention.

During those initial hours of my realization of just how far the elevator had dropped this time, I raged at my loving and patient husband who shared my anguish over the damage that certain corporations can inflict upon our children, and the sea of apathy among parents that borders on resignation. Some added their voices to the chorus of outraged, activated parents, while others either had no discernible reaction, or openly questioned what the fuss was all about, noting that mothers could simply refuse to buy the bikini tops for their daughters—problem solved. But was it really? I kept wondering, imploring, why do we increasingly fail to protect our kids, and why do we seem to have lost sight of our most core value, the collective rearing of well-adjusted children, securing our future as a thriving species on Earth? I could not process the depth of my anomie.

 

“Anomie” is one of my favorite words, acquired in college Sociology 101. It is a term describing both the personal perception of a lack of social norms, and the actual breakdown of social norms and values. It arises from a mismatch between personal or group standards and broader social standards, or from the lack of a social ethic. Large-scale moral deregulation is the result. How can the global village nurture and protect its youngest and most vulnerable members amidst such deregulation?

The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is perhaps overly simplistic because, as Hillary Clinton pointed out in her 1996 book on this topic, the village will raise the child if the parents decline the job or cannot overcome the obstacles placed in the way of managing it. A quick survey of psychological and cultural ills facing today’s children as they navigate the path to adulthood is at best challenging and at worst, for some children, insurmountable.

While Clinton’s book of fifteen years ago focused on issues such as the eradication of poverty, universal health care, educational excellence, protection from child abuse, and other necessary roles of the village in the raising of happy, healthy children, the world has changed significantly in the past decade and a half, and we increasingly need a village that also protects girls from being targeted for early sexualization by pop, rap and hip-hop music, clothing marketers, magazines, and even the toy industry. Jean KilbournePeggy Orenstein and other valiant crusaders speak out loudly against what some experts consider a communal pedophilia toward young girls, and the feeding of our daughters to this beast of consumerism. Boys are similarly victimized by the easy availability of Internet and even mainstream television pornography that exposes them prematurely to explicit sex and disconnects their emotions from the physical act of intercourse. And these are just a few examples.

I’d like to have been in the conference room at Abercrombie & Fitch when their executives calculated the potential profit to be gained by objectifying ever-younger little girls. Surely many of these executives were also parents who found some way to psychologically distance themselves from their behavior and patent culpability. There has always been an inverse relationship between desperation and standards, and in case you’re wondering, that sound you hear is the happy ding of cash registers drowning out hypocrisy.

When I think about all of the CEO’s getting rich by preying upon our children, I like to think that instead of acquiring fortunes, the fortunes acquire them, but that’s far too idealistic. The global village has its work cut out for it. Bob Dole could not have been more mistaken when, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention preceding the 1996 presidential race, he was quoted as saying: “…with all due respect, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” His jab at Hillary Clinton revealed that he had completely missed the point, and had likely never even read her book. Clinton was not devaluing or deemphasizing the role of the family; she was arguing for an American culture that supports rather than undermines the difficult job of modern-day parenting.

How did we get to this place as a nation, and further, as a global society? I have plenty of theories of my own, but would love to hear readers’ opinions on this question, as well as ideas for how we can push the pendulum back in the other direction. Who are the strongest new voices in this discourse? Where should concerned parents and citizens look for education and advice? A large and comprehensive dialogue among all stakeholders is sorely needed.

Regardless of how we got here, I suppose that if you walk five miles into the woods, you’ve got to walk five miles back out. I’d say it’s time we admit that the global village is failing, and that we need to pull the walls around ourselves and figure things out in a hurry.

It takes courage to recognize the real as opposed to the convenient. Healthy children and healthy families do not exist in a vacuum. If we as a society do not take whatever steps are necessary to create a culture that prioritizes the welfare of children over unbridled corporate greed, we not only fail as a global village, we fail as human beings. We also risk becoming one more fallen empire in the course of human history. Anomie is just the canary in the coalmine.

 

 

Reprinted with permission from The Huffington Post.

 

Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Enrich Reading and Relationships

Years ago, as the working mother of a young daughter, I sometimes struggled to achieve that elusive work/home “balance” women often speak of and hold up as the ultimate validation of their success within the frameworks of modern feminism. I looked for ways to spend “quality time” with my child when I felt I did not spend enough actual time with her. For the most part, working in schools allowed me to be more or less on my daughter’s schedule, although I always brought home a lot of work.

One of the best and most memorable undertakings of those years was the formation of a mother-daughter book club, a collaboration with my daughter and four other mother-daughter pairs that would last for six years. I remember noticing how few of my daughter’s books had female protagonists, and of the ones that did, how few of those portrayed women and girls in strong roles. I noticed that girls did not seem to mind reading books about boys, but that boys had no interest in—and in fact avoided—reading books about girls. I started talking to other mothers, teachers, and colleagues about this, and found that they all observed the same behavior, and all felt frustrated by it.

Research supported my observation. For example, in 1996, a wonderful movie came out: the film version of Matilda by Roald Dahl. Great book, great movie. But the movie bombed at the box office, and its production company went on record saying they would produce no more movies starring girls, because they were money losers. Girls went to see the movie but boys stayed home, and thus the potential market was cut in half. This was the same dynamic that happened with books about girls. I recall a lot of mothers talking about this and feeling sad and outraged. Everyone wondered whether the Harry Potter series, which had just begun at the time our book club formed, would be receiving the same voracious following if it were about a Harriet rather than a Harry.

Around the same time, a woman named Shireen Dodson wrote a book called The Mother-Daughter Book Club, and another called 100 Books for Girls to Grow On. My local bookshop devoted its storefront window to a display of Dodson’s books, as well as some of the books Dodson recommended girls read, all of which focused on strong female role models. As my daughter and I walked past the bookshop, the display in the window beckoned to us and we went inside. My daughter said, “I want to do that!” We bought Dodson’s books, and the story of our club is best explained by my daughter. She gave me permission to post a local newspaper column she wrote during our last year as a club. I thought about writing this blog post to extol the virtues of mother-daughter book clubs from my professional perch, but sometimes a personal approach is just as good or better.

Below is the newspaper column, followed by a spreadsheet of the books we chose to read each year. As the girls got older, the mothers handed over the reigns to the girls, who chose the books we would read together each year. At that point we did not focus exclusively on female protagonists, but simply on good literature that was not being covered in school. I can say without a doubt that the mother-daughter book club was the most extraordinary formative experience in my relationship with my daughter, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to any mothers looking for ways to expose their young daughters to female-centric literature, and to enrich their emotional bonds with their daughters.

By my daughter, then in the eighth grade:

When my I was in the third grade, my mom and I helped found a mother-daughter book club, which has endured to this day. My mom joined with the four mothers of my best friends at the time, and together we created the club. The mothers agreed that their camaraderie with each other was as important as the social relationships between the girls because this would keep the club stable, and would provide a framework of support for my friends and I as we matured into young women. They felt it best to start early so we could develop these feelings of trust and dedication to the club and each other over time. Since I was an only child with no extended family nearby, my mom wanted to find another way to implement the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” She felt she and the other chosen mothers could raise us together in a special and meaningful way, with the good values and confidence necessary for us to become strong young women.

Part of the reason she wanted to start this club was because it would always be a place where my friends and I, as teenagers, would feel comfortable sharing our thoughts and lives in the presence of other caring, experienced women. We wanted to form a book club, specifically, because we all had a passion for reading, and we agreed that for my friends and I, the reading we did in the club would be additional enrichment to what we got in school. When we were all students at Alcott, we read “kid books,” but now in middle school, we feel comfortable moving on to more abstract, higher-level reading. We have reached a point currently, as eighth graders, where we are transitioning to reading adult novels in the club. The discussions we engage in during the meetings often begin as conversations about problems in the text that the protagonist encounters and overcomes, and inevitably shift seamlessly to conversations about similar problems we have experienced and dealt with while growing up.

I have always loved this aspect of our meetings, as it allows for everyone to empathize with each other and create a common thread of understanding related to the books and our experiences and daughters and mothers. Our book club still maintains the same structure as it has for almost six years, with few exceptions. We meet on the first Friday of every month for dinner and book discussion, and we take turns hosting at our houses. The hosting daughter makes up questions and leads the discussion. We used to keep a scrapbook with a page devoted to each book as a memento of our meetings, but as homework steadily increased in middle school, we had to let this go.

My favorite tradition is going to a B & B for the first meeting of the year in October. It gives us a chance to reconnect after the summer, share our favorite summer reads, and plan the list of books and rotation of houses for the upcoming year. When we first started the club, the mothers created the reading list, choosing books that portrayed females as strong protagonists in a variety of genres. Now that the girls are teenagers, we all work together to give input into forming the list. When we pick books, we don’t choose anything covered in school or anything that many members have read before. We also integrate multicultural books, modern and classic novels, and short stories into our range of material. We are now in our sixth year together, and our meetings have always been, and will remain, a highlight of my month. Regardless of how hectic our lives are or how many times we have to reschedule the meeting date, we try never to miss a month.

In the fall of 2000 we began as five mother-daughter pairs, but busy lives and divergent interests did not allow the original group to continue. However, the remaining three pairs are now carrying on with a renewed sense of connection and devotion to our club, which I believe will take us far in the years to come. In the time since the club was founded, other mothers and daughters in Concord have been inspired by us to start their own book clubs as well. I feel happy to know that there are other people who love to read, and who also care about the importance of companionship, nurturance, and values gained through being part of a mother-daughter book club. These are the books I can remember us reading from each year:

3rd Grade Books 4th Grade Books 5th Grade Books
The School Mouse Caddie Woodlawn The Time Bike
Dick King Smith Carol Ryrie Brink Jane Langton
Goodbye, Vietnam The Gypsy Game
E.B. White Gloria Whelan Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Sarah Plain and Tall Ella Enchanted Island of the Blue Dolphins
Patricia Maclachlan Gail Carson Levine Scott O’Dell
Matilda Julie of the Wolves
Esther Wood Brady Roald Dahl Jean Graighead George
Harriet the Spy The Fledgling A Single Shard
Louise Fitzhugh Jane Langton Linda Sue Park
Laura Ingalls Wilder(biography) The Egypt Game Where the Ground Meets the Sky
William Anderson Zilpha Keatley Snyder Jacqueline Davies
Little House on the Prairie The Family Under the Bridge Bud, Not Buddy
 

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Natalie Savage Carlson Christopher Paul Curtis
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons Flip-Flop Girl
Barbara Cohen & Bahija Lovejoy Katherine Paterson
6th Grade Books 7th Grade Books 8th Grade Books
Jacob, Have I Loved A Separate Peace an Agatha Christie book
Katherine Patterson John Knowles of your choice
When My Name Was Keoko Life of Pi
Linda Sue Park Gloria Whelan Yann Martel
Hannah, Divided The Invisible Thread A High Wind in Jamaica
Adele Griffin Yoshiko Uchida Richard Hughes
The Incredible Journey The Red Pony E. B. White essays
Sheila Burnford John Steinbeck
Seedfolks a selection of short stories The Secret Life of Bees
Paul Fleishman Guy de Maupasant, etc. Sue Monk Kidd
Crispin: The Cross of Lead Chasing Vermeer
Avi Blue Balliett
Ashes of Roses Whale Rider
Mary Auch Witi Ihimaera
Fair Weather Shadow Spinner
Richard Peck Susan Fletcher