Moms & Girls Bond Over Books

tracy-carboneSome years ago, when her daughter entered the fourth grade, author Tracy Carbone* became part of a Mother Daughter Book Club. I asked Tracy to share some ideas with the rest of us on how to go about starting a club for moms and their girls. So...here's Tracy!

Mother Daughter Book Club
        Tracy L. Carbone

Nine years ago Lisa, the mother of one of my daughter's friends, learned she had breast cancer. Fortunately, she survived. Two years later she decided she wanted to do something special—something to create lasting memories for her oldest daughter.

So Lisa made some calls to find out who would be interested in starting a Mother Daughter Book Club. Ten of us signed on—five mothers and five daughters—all of us excited to be in such an exclusive group.

One of the first things Lisa did was to create a binder, which we used month after month...year after year. In it were the names of each month’s book, along with the five discussion questions posed by the daughter who ran that month’s meeting. Whoever ran the meeting got to host the group and choose the book for the following month. Our first book was the beloved
1945 children's classic—The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.

By the end of the girls' fourth grade year, we had read one book a month, most of them tame and friendly. But one question kept popping up, time and again: as our girls read the books and studied the plots they always asked, “Why don’t the characters just tell their parents?” We moms wondered the same thing, and their question revealed to us just how strong our bonds were with our daughters—and how our club had become a place where they could trust us.

With each book, we mothers were reminded of our own childhoods, often sharing with the group and our daughters
stories no one had heard before. By the end of nearly every meeting, there were tears of joy and remembering, and heaps of sharing.

The girls
matured, moving into fifth, sixth and then seventh grades. When bras and periods came into play, we moved up to books like Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (Judy Bloom, 1970). We also combined movies with books if possible, including Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo, 2000) and The Last Song (Nicholas Sparks, 2009), as the girls grew older.

Sadly, midway through the girls' seventh grade, Lisa’s cancer returned with a vengeance. We stepped up the meetings, choosing riskier books, teaching our girls as much about love and heartbreak and reality as we could, preparing them for the road ahead in an environment—our clubwhere they could feel safe.

Books like
So B. It (Sarah Weeks, 2004), Jars of Glass (Brad Barkley, 2008), Hope Was Here (Joan Bauer, 2000) and Call Me Hope (Gretchen Olson, 2007) filled our shelves. These were life-affirming stories that demonstrated tenacious female characters finding strength in what remained. We read Mother-Daughter Book Club (Heather Vogel Frederick, 2007) and set up a conference call with the author, while luxuriating in an oceanfront hotel in Maine.

The five girls grew very close because of this bond. Lisa lost the battle to cancer at the beginning of the girls’ eighth grade. Though the bookclub carried on the rest of the year, by high school, the girls’ workloads were heavy and extra reading wasn’t possible.

We had a good clip though. Five years of stories of courage and love and life. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

A beautiful, poignant story, Tracy. Thanks so much for sharing it. If anyone else has been part of a mother-daughter book club...let us hear from you.

* Tracy L. Carbone is author of The Soul Collector for young readers. Check out her book on Amazon (click on the book's cover image). Also, be sure to visit her website at Tracy L. Carbone's Writing Website.


Comments  

0 #2 Kerri 2012-06-16 12:40
Well done Tracey..thank you for keeping the memories alive
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0 #1 jnana 2012-06-14 16:27
What a wonderful story. Book-clubs really do bring people together, and it's a great idea to grab that potential to bond with the important people in your life.
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