Even though the days of being a student myself have passed, autumn still feels like a return to diligence. There’s a chill in the air, the pencils and notebooks at the grocery store are on sale, and, most importantly, it’s time to launch another year of Girls Leadership Parent and Daughter Book Club.
This year, our Girls Leadership Book Club is even more amazing than last year. Twice as amazing, in fact, because we are now offering book titles and discussion guides for girls in 4th and 5th grades, as well as 2nd and 3rd.
Whether you’re participating in Girls Leadership Book Club for the first time or continuing for a second year, please re-visit last year’s post about the recipe for a great parent and daughter book club. Also, to learn more about running a successful parent-daughter book club, read Lori Day’s book Her Next Chapter.
What is Girls Leadership Parent and Daughter Book Club?
Book Club is a group of parent-daughter pairs that agree to meet in person once a month for six months of the school year (October, November, January, February, April, & May). We’ll announce a Grade 2/3 and 4/5 title for each month of Book Club, and send a discussion guide to participants via email (make sure you’ve signed up so you receive all the free materials). Your club will pick a meeting date, and all the parents or guardians and daughters will read the book before the meeting. Some parents and daughters will choose to read the book together (with parent or daughter reading aloud, or even taking turns) and some will read the book independently. Either way works; it’s a matter of personal preference.
At the meeting, girls and parents will discuss their thoughts about the book. The discussion guide makes a terrific starting point for conversation, but group conversations really get rolling when participants listen and respond to each other. Depending on readers’ perspectives and interpretations of the book, the conversation will go in fascinating and unique directions. It’s just amazing how many different ways groups can discuss one book.
How do I get started?
It couldn’t be simpler. First, sign-up so you receive all the emails about Book Club. In those emails you’ll not only receive Book Club announcements and discussion guides, you’ll also get links to Book Club related content, such as online articles or videos.
If you’re on Facebook, request to join our Girls Leadership Book Club Group. You can also follow Girls Leadership on Facebook and Twitter for all the news about our programming and community.
Think about who you’d like to invite to your Book Club group. If you can only find one other parent-daughter pair to join, that’s fine for now. You might add more in the future. We recommend a group of about 4-5 pairs, which is large enough for interesting conversation but not so large that people feel intimidated or have a hard time being heard. Encourage the other parents in your group to sign-up so they get all the Book Club goodies, too.
If there’s someone that might especially appreciate being included – a new girl in class, for instance – consider inviting that person. Modeling thoughtful inclusion to your daughter is a wonderful way to start a year of Book Club.
Why Parent and Daughter Book Club?
We started this book club last year because we wanted to make our powerful community and skills accessible to everyone who wanted it, everywhere in the country, for free. We wanted to help girls and their families strengthen their relationships on every level. Book Club is a time of coming together each month to discuss wonderful literature, and get to know each other better. We share the struggles and successes of our lives. Parents lean on each other for support, the girls create a safe place to bond, and parents get to step away from the pressures of daily life to focus on having fun with their daughters.
When it comes to building inter-personal leadership skills, sometimes it is easier to talk about the character in a book than ourselves. Parent and Daughter Book Club is an ideal, safe way to learn about the critical social and emotional skills that will serve your girl over a lifetime.
When we set aside time for those dear to us, we send a powerful message: “You’re important to me.” Our girls hear this message loud and clear.
What books will we read?
We’ll choose books based on a few guiding ideas:
- Inclusion – We choose books with well-written, authentic female main characters who reflect the wonderful diversity of our communities.
- High-Interest Stories – It’s impossible to ensure that every reader will love every book we choose, but we do our best to select compelling books that parents and daughters will enjoy and that will inspire rich conversations.
- Variety of Genres – This year, we have selected books from the fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novel genres. We hope that readers will find something that speaks to them in these pages, and perhaps be surprised by a story that they might not have read otherwise.
- Leadership Skill Themes – Each book is connected to a skill in the Girls Leadership curriculum that you and your girls will become aware of, discuss, and ultimately try – either in the safety of the club, or in the real world.
As for the specific titles, we will announce the entire list to our registered participants very soon. Here are the first two titles for the year:
- For 2nd & 3rd grade girls: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han
- For 4th & 5th grade girls: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Check out our FAQs for more answers, or comment below with your questions.
Barbara Milone, LCSW
I am thinking this would be a wonderful activity to offer to mothers and daughters in my school. I would organize and help facilitate the clubs. Would there be any restrictions to running the book clubs in this way?
Dorothy Ponton, Digital Marketing Manager
This sounds great! Please use the materials in a way that works for your school’s community. Since this is a free program, we do request that each parent or guardian sign up, so we can follow up with them to measure impact. Also, please don’t post the meeting materials and discussion questions online.
It is wonderful that you’re taking the initiative to get this going. After your meeting times and locations are organized, and perhaps after the first meeting, please consider rotating parent and daughter pair facilitators for each meeting, since the shared responsibility is part of the learning framework. By the end of the year, the girls themselves will be guiding the discussion portion of the meeting!
Please keep in touch; I’d love to know how your club is doing.
About how long should I expect each book club meeting to take time wise?
Dorothy Ponton, Digital Marketing Manager
Most folks take about 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how many girl/ parent pairs are at your meeting, and whether or not you have a meal or just snacks. Younger girls don’t always last that long, so some clubs told us they only met for an hour, and then the parents enjoyed visiting for a while as their girls played.
I have a son who is an avid reader. I love the idea of starting a book club for all the reasons you’ve listed: to read books with authentic female main characters, build inter-personal leadership skills, strengthen family relationships, and spend time with my child so that he knows he’s important to me. What are your thoughts on a boys-only vs. co-ed vs. girls-only book club using your book club materials?
Dorothy Ponton, Digital Marketing Manager
So glad to hear you’re considering starting a book club! First of all, feel free to use the book club materials in a way that works for you and your family. Our research & program specialty is the unique challenges faced by girls, but there is growing evidence that boys will benefit from social emotional learning also. Personally, I love the idea of more boys reading books with authentic female characters.
Secondly, co-ed learning environments can be very different at different ages. We know that by 4th Grade, girls (in this country) are already losing their voice in co-ed environments. Would boys feel pressure not to talk about feelings in a co-ed environment? I don’t have a solid “definitely don’t do this” or “yes, do it” answer, and am super curious what you’ll find if you created a co-ed or boys-only book group.
Many of the parents in our communities have girls and boys. If you’d like other parents to weigh in on this, feel free to discuss this in our Book Club Facebook Group.