When Simone gave me the green light to develop the Girls Leadership Parent & Daughter Book Club pilot program, I was thrilled. Books have the power to change minds and hearts, and I believe that discussing a book with other readers amplifies its effect.
The process started as pure fun. Reading dozens upon dozens of books, writing blog posts and discussion guides – that was play. Then, I had to actually form my club. That’s where I struggled.
I didn’t have any close friends in my new city with daughters in second or third grade, so I knew I would have to reach out to acquaintances. And, though I think of myself as a social person, reaching out to people I didn’t know very well made me feel anxious and insecure.
Here are some of the things I worried about:
- The other moms wouldn’t like the books I picked.
- The other moms would think I was a geek (in the bad way).
- Our daughters wouldn’t get along.
- The other girls would all get along, but they wouldn’t like my daughter.
- They would think my house was too small, not funky enough, or too messy.
- They would talk about me behind my back.
- No one would have fun and and they would all want to quit.
There is always going to be a reason – even many reasons – not to start something new, not to take a risk. It’s just so easy to stay within our comfort zones. But keeping things easy doesn’t offer many rewards.
And isn’t that a lesson we’d like our girls to learn? I had a sinking feeling that if I wanted my seven-year old daughter to embrace healthy risk-taking, I’d have to model the same.
So, I took a deep breath and I sent out an email. In her book about mother-daughter book clubs Her Next Chapter, Lori Day suggests starting with just one other parent as a way to “test the waters.” I contacted one other mom and pitched the idea. To my relief, she responded quickly and enthusiastically. After that, I knew that even if it took me a while to find other willing parties, we could begin with our two pairs. This gave me the security I needed to contact the rest of the parents.
Along the way, I shared some of my nervousness with my daughter. I wanted her to see that going for what I wanted wasn’t easy, but the rewards made the effort worthwhile. Being brave isn’t something that stops when a person becomes an adult. It’s just that adults are often too cool to admit when they’re feeling scared.
Are you reading our book club posts on social media? Are you watching the amazing author interviews? Are you seeing how excited parents are getting about the relationships and conversations that are growing in their clubs? Maybe you’d like to start your own club, but something is holding you back. Is it anxiety or insecurity, like it was for me? Is it the idea that your calendar is full of other commitments?
What would happen if you did it anyway? What if you went for it, despite the anxieties, despite the inconvenience? Sure, it’s easier not to. But, if you put in the effort, you might find yourself reaping great rewards.
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KEEP GOING! What you are doing will have an impact beyond what you’ll ever see. I’m an avid reader, and it was cultivated and fostered at an early age by a mom who loved to read. In my pre-teen and teen years, my mom made it clear that no book was “off limits” but there were some books that I’d only read if we read them together and discussed them during and after the reading. Those conversations are part of what shaped me into the woman I am today. Bravo for creating an environment for mothers and daughters to read together!
Dorothy Ponton, Community Engagement Manager
Thanks so much for sharing your experience of reading and discussing books with your mother. Those conversations sounded like they were powerful!