As our fourth fabulous year of Girls Leadership Girl & Grown-Up Book Club wraps up, let’s take a moment and reflect on how much reading, growing, and connecting our book clubs took on!
Each age group read six titles* that featured strong female characters. In these stories, girls exhibited a wide range of leadership skills, from determination in athletics to activism to transcending others’ expectations. As you read and discussed these books, I hope that you reflected on your own leadership skills. Thinking and talking about a new skill can be the first step to learning it.
It’s no surprise, though, that to truly learn a new skill, talking once or twice is not enough. We need to flex our leadership muscle and try out our new skill. We need people to hold us accountable and learn with us. We need to practice.
*If you skipped or missed out on any of the titles, don’t forget that Book Club members can access the free toolkits with discussion guides here. These titles make great bonus book club choices, or fun independent reading!
Not a member yet? It’s FREE! Sign up here.
Here are a few tips for taking leadership off the pages of our books and into our lives.
Notice & Name
Anytime you see someone demonstrating a leadership skill (we consider leadership whenever someone influences another person, siblings included), point it out. This could be a real-life person or a character in a book or television show. These observations provide an opportunity to open up a conversation. You might even be able to connect these examples to the examples from our Girls Leadership books by saying something like, “Wow, Serena Williams really came back after that disappointing first game. That takes a lot of determination and a good attitude, just like Patina in that book we read together.”
Whether or not your girl engages in the conversation, the message is that examples of leadership are all around us, and can be powerful teachers!
Even more importantly, notice when your daughter demonstrates leadership skills, even in small ways. Tell her that you noticed her actions and that what she did was an example of leadership. Maybe your girl asked for what she needed, made a mistake and owned it, or took a moment to pick up trash. Those moments deserve noticing. If you’ve ever trained a pet, you know that celebrating positive behaviors is a powerful parenting and teaching tool.
Take Healthy Risks
One thing I’ve noticed about myself and many of my peers is that, the older we get, the more comfortable we become in our habits and the less inclined we are to take risks. Yet trying out new skills requires that we accept the risk of failure or, at the very least, of looking silly.
It’s important to share and celebrate our failures as well as our successes. When family members only talk about their triumphs, we could inadvertently be sending the message that mistakes and failures should be hidden.
And our failures, after all, mean that we tried something. We should feel proud of them. In the story, Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909, Clara Lemlich knows she wants to fight for factory workers’ rights, but she doesn’t know how. Her first attempts were unsuccessful, but showed Clara’s determination to correct rather than accept unjust treatment.
Our failures are some of our best teachers. As Clara continues to organize the factory workers, she learns from all her efforts until she finally gains the rights and protections that she and her fellow workers desperately need. Without the first failed attempts, she might not have ultimately been victorious.
Learning new things is not always comfortable. Think about the first time you went up on rollerblades or rode a bike. Ouch! When practicing new leadership skills, expect to fall. A lot. Leadership isn’t about a 100% money-back effectiveness guarantee. It’s about growing in ways that make us stronger and more able to advocate for ourselves and others.
Emphasize the Importance of Practice
Whether learning a sport, an instrument, a language, or anything else, practice is an integral component to gaining those skills in a lasting way. There are many ways to practice leadership skills, such as:
- Practice by role playing – Role playing a conversation might feel silly, but practicing in a safe space first can give us the confidence to take our leadership into real life.
- Practice by writing – Like, role playing, writing down what we want to say or do can help because it forces us to articulate a plan.
- Tell others your plan – When we share our plans with people who care about us, we invite them to hold us accountable. For example, we could say to a friend or family member, I’m going to play with a new friend at recess, just like Jada in Jada Jones: Rock Star. Knowing that someone might ask how your plan went can help us overcome shyness or nerves and get on with it. Your fellow book club members can come in very handy with this!
- Start small – In Front Desk, Mia starts by making small changes to the hotel’s operation, like leaving blank cards on the desk for customer comments. She works her way up to larger actions, like organizing a large group of people to purchase the hotel together. You might want to start small, too. Easy leadership behaviors are much less intimidating and can help you gain momentum.
Girl and Grown-Up Book club is a fun time to discuss books and connect with friends, and it’s also a time to learn about leadership skills. We want each of you – grown-ups and girls! – to take your new leadership skills out of the book club discussion and into your real lives. It’s not an easy task, but when family, friends, and book club members support and motivate each other, it is possible.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be sending members an email survey with some questions about your book club experience. Please take a few minutes to give us your honest feedback so can make this program even better in the future. Thank you!
All our love to all of you. We hope you will keep reading and join us for Girls Leadership Girl & Grown-Up Book Club 2019-2020!!
We’d love to hear about your Book Club experiences in the comments.
All of your feedback helps us to improve Girls Leadership Girl & Grown-up Book Club for the coming years!
If you are able, please support this program with a financial contribution. We rely on donations to provide this free resource to families around the world.
Not a member yet? It’s FREE! Sign up to get toolkits with meeting guides and discussion questions for our entire archive of books delivered right to your inbox. Book Club will start again this September.