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Mother-Daughter Book Club

Mother-Daughter Book Club

by Shireen Dodson, Teresa Barker, Teresa Barker (With)

Combining the practical with the personal, The Mother-Daughter Book Club tells the story of 10 mothers and their preteen daughters and how their relationships were enriched through a monthly reading club. With step-by-step guidelines, stories, anecdotes, reading lists, sample themes and related activities, it offers practical instructions for starting a book


Combining the practical with the personal, The Mother-Daughter Book Club tells the story of 10 mothers and their preteen daughters and how their relationships were enriched through a monthly reading club. With step-by-step guidelines, stories, anecdotes, reading lists, sample themes and related activities, it offers practical instructions for starting a book club while encouraging mothers and daughters to learn to talk openly with one another.

At a key stage of their daughter's development, mothers will find a hopeful antidote to depression, eating disorders, self-destructive behavior and other problems facing adolescent girls. Most important, The Mother-Daughter Book Club shows that reading, learning and spending time together helps girls build self-esteem.

With suggested reading lists from authors and experts ranging from Kaye Gibbons, Joyce Carol Oates and Tipper Gore to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Beth Winship and Ann Martin, The Mother-Daughter Book Club has the potential to inspire whole networks of reading clubs nationwide.

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Kirkus Reviews
Searching for a way to "spend some special time" with her nine-year-old daughter that would "help us understand each other better," Dodson, the assistant director of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for African American History and Culture, hit upon the idea of forming a book club composed of mothers and their young daughters, who would work together to generate a reading list and then gather regularly to discuss what they had read. The idea was an immediate success. The group discussions, Dodson notes, "offered a unique combination of intellectual and personal sharing," bringing mothers and daughters (whose ages ranged from 9 to 12) closer together and allowing them to discuss some difficult issues in a nonconfrontational manner. The book is both a record of Dodson's experiences and a detailed explanation of how to form such a club. It includes a number of brief essays by the children in Dodson's group, short pieces by authors and teachers stressing the value of such groups, and reading lists provided by a variety of noted authors.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt


I'll never forget the day I found out I was pregnantfor the first time or saw the first ultrasound of my baby. It seemed sosurreal. When you realize that there is actually a human being growinginside you, one that you helped create--and will now have to shape intoa thinking, feeling person--it's completely overpowering. The cycle oflife is intrinsic to nature, something that occurs every day, but thereis nothing ordinary about it when it is happening to you--the feeling isawe-inspiring.

And then comes the day you feel yourbaby moving inside you for the first time. It's exciting, it's a littlestrange, and it's also a bit scary--for this is the moment when itbecomes real. Suddenly, all your fantasies about what your child will belike are replaced by the realities of the responsibility you are aboutto undertake, and the looming questions about how to nurture and raisethis new little person.

Nothing changes your lifemore than the birth of your first child. One moment, you are anindividual free to do whatever you choose. The next, you are a mother.From then on your own needs are secondary. There's nothing that anyonecan ever tell you, no book you can read, that prepares you, thataccurately reflects the powerful emotions that come with this new linkin the cycle of life.

Watching your baby gurgle,smile, laugh, clap, talk, walk, and start to play and think is the mostamazing miracle. Motherhood has truly been the most joyous, fulfilling,and important experience of my life. It's also been the most challengingand tiring job I've ever faced . . . and that's saying a lot for someonewho has woken up at 4:00 a.m. to go to work for twenty years. (Allright, somaybe it was good preparation for those early morningfeedings!)

Although motherhood is hard work,constantly requiring you to make tough decisions and set boundaries, Inever cease to be amazed at how much my daughters enrich my life. Inever knew that macaroni art could elicit such sentiment, or that afinger painting could be as valuable as an original Picasso. My lifewithout my daughters would not only be empty, it would definitely bedull.

The importance of my relationships with mydaughters, their impact on my life, and the strength we derive from oneanother are mirrored in the stories of the women and girls from acrossthe country that appear in The Story of Mothers & Daughters documentaryand book. These intimate and poignant stories of women and girls fromdifferent backgrounds and of different races resonate with mebecause--although the stories are all unique--they highlight theuniversal hopes, dreams, and fears all mothers have for their daughters.The stories eloquently describe the many revelations all mothers have aswe watch our daughters grow.

One of the mostsignificant of these revelations is recognizing bits and pieces ofyourself in your children as they get older. Watching my daughtersJamie, Lindsay, and Sarah is like watching a movie of my life. I hearthem speak and I'm taken back in time to when I was their age. I'm sureevery parent, for just an instant, has recalled splashing in the tub asthey've bathed their child. As I helped my girls learn to ride theirbikes, I was reminded of the day I felt those wobbly wheels beneath me.And let's admit it, we buy those doll houses and all those little piecesof furniture because it's just as much fun to play with them the secondtime around. The difference today is that you can teach your daughterthat she can grow up to be the architect of that house.

You also begin to understand just how much your ownmother influenced you. You find yourself passing onetiquette--sending thank-you notes, never showing up at someone's houseempty-handed--and traditions that establish the importance of familytogetherness. As the many mother-daughter stories in the book anddocumentary make clear, mothers pass on all these importantlegacies--and have since the beginning of time--and, as the mothers canattest, it's both awesome and exciting to see your passions, desires,attitudes, and dreams reflected in your children. As daughters grow andbegin to take on identities of their own, the degree of their mothers'influence becomes more apparent. Just when you think she hasn't beenlistening to a word you've said, she surprises you by exhibiting thevery behavior you had been hoping to pass on.

Mymom's influence on my brother and me was enormous. She always wanted usto have a positive attitude, to always try to do the best we could. Mymom's name is Gladyce, but it's no accident that her friends all callher Hap, short for Happy. She's always seen the cup as half full, andtaught me to approach each day with a smile. Mom tried always to teachus to be fair, to care, and to have integrity. So when I think of thesevirtues today, I think of my mom.

I also got anincredible sense of confidence from her. She was always her own person.Mom never allowed someone else to shape her convictions. Perhaps thequality that I am most grateful to her for instilling in me is neverholding a grudge. It's such a waste of precious time, a drain of energy,and it solves nothing. She believed in kissing and making up, forgivingand forgetting. If we had a disagreement, Mom insisted that we talkabout it, get it out, and let it go, and it was never long before shewould be at my door with a smile on her face, as if it had neverhappened. I loved that. I consider that one of the greatest attributes Igot from my mom.

Sometimes, it's almost frighteningto see how much a mother can shape her daughters. My oldest daughter,Jamie, is very much like me--driven, competitive, hard on herself. Shedesperately wants to make her mark on life (not to mention save theseals, the rain forests, the world, and everything else). Interestingly,Lindsay reflects different aspects of me. She's nurturing, caring, andthe person who sees to it that everyone else is happy and cared for.Sarah embraces the "no limits" concept, and, boy, does she know how toenjoy each moment of the day. She has a great sense of humor, andperhaps because she is the youngest, never lets fear stop her. Herenthusiasm for life is truly contagious.

Theprofound influence of mothers on their daughters is revealed in eachstory in this moving film and book. Mothers candidly describe thechallenges of raising children and the importance of providing theirdaughters with the support they need to develop self-confidence. Perhapsmost touching, however, are the many mothers who describe their awe atthe achievements of their daughters, their daughters' strength and driveand ability to handle, with both grace and resolve, the most stressfulsituations. Their stories underscore how much mothers learn from theirdaughters.

The importance of being a good role modelis also made clear. If you are a strong enough role model, you can teachthe importance of empathy, of putting yourself in the shoes of othersless fortunate, and you will create caring, loving adults. And in thissociety, where unfortunately there seems to be a need to diminishaccomplished women, I want my three daughters to always challenge thisnotion. I want them to have a voice, to believe in themselves, to feelpride in their accomplishments. I want them to think for themselves, toshape their own lives, and to search for their strengths.

My mother always reminded me to reach for the stars andto believe that I could do anything. I have passed on this belief to mygirls. By example, I am trying to teach my daughters to find a passion,to make their own choices, and to be willing to take risks. If I canteach them to have confidence in themselves, then they will be able todo anything they think they can do. It's taken me a while to learn this,but that's what finally transforms a daughter into a mother--your yearsof experience, maturity, wisdom, and the ability to learn from mistakes.

The Story of Mothers & Daughters project is apoignant commemoration of all aspects of mother-daughterrelationships--the joys, difficulties, triumphs, challenges, andtragedies experienced along the way. The documentary and bookreveal--through the personal stories of the mothers and daughters whoparticipated--the many levels of the mother-daughter connection. Alsoreflected is the way these bonds change through the course of our lives.This bond is unspoken yet deep, a mystery that can never be explainedbut one that is understood by every mother and every daughter. Each ofthe photographs and stories in this book celebrates this intangible yetpowerful force. The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Copyright © by Shireen Dodson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Shireen Dodson is Special Assistant to the Director, Office of Civil Rights attaché U.S. Department of State. Her second book, One Hundred Books for Girls to Grow On, offers a selection of both new and classic titles, and it serves as a companion to The Mother-Daughter Book Club. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is the mother of three children.

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