Shortly after moving to Newtown and reading an article about a group of Greenwich mothers who had formed a “mother/daughter” book club, I coyly asked a few of the moms of my daughter’s new found friends if they might be interested in doing the same.
We knew very few people here and I thought this might help. It never dawned on me that not only would it evolve into a monthly ritual lasting more than seven years, but that we would discover, through the myriad of books we’ve consumed, a world of knowledge about each other and our children.
Busy parents are often seeking ways in which they can better connect with their children. While happy to chauffeur kids to and from their various passions and supportive of interests ranging from music to sports to video games, it can be difficult, especially as kids mature, to find something to share in together that’s enjoyable for both parent and child.
A parent/child book group can offer this opportunity. While many parents do enjoy the books their kids are reading, such as Harry Potter and Twilight, the opportunity to freely express thoughts and opinions about the book within a group of both peers and adults is unique, empowering and stimulating.
Also, books with sensitive or controversial subject matter often lead to valuable discussions -- discussions that may be uncomfortable to bring up on their own, but within the context of "the story" and among a group of fellow readers, become less awkward.
Books such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Johnny Got His Gun, The Glass Castle and Of Mice and Men to name a few have led to rich dialogues my daughter and I have had -- dialogues that have offered valuable insight into how she perceives her world.
Cassie Fallon loves that the group has allowed her to discover different genres of books that she may never have chosen on her own.
"Also, book group has opened up my mind to new ideas and new opinions and has broadened my knowledge in an interesting and fun way," she said.
Her's favorite read so far: Piratica by Tanith Lee.
The girls were about 11-years-old when the group began and are now preparing to enter their senior year in high school.
Through the years we’ve enjoyed classics (Jayne Eyre, The Chocolate War), non-fiction (Blink, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) and, recent bestsellers (Sarah’s Key, Room.)
Fellow member Nicole Lang's personal favorite thus far was "The Story of B" by Daniel Quinn. Nicole loves how book group enables her to reconvene with old friends and to explore books she may otherwise not have had time to read.
Asked what she most likes about book group, my daughter said that aside from the home made desserts which accompany each meeting, she feels that the occasional heated debate always makes for an interesting evening.
Among her favorites: The Help, The Outsiders and, Something Wicked This way Comes.
Fellow member, Katie Burn's favorites also include The Help and The Ousiders, as well as The Secret Life of Bees and The Book Thief.
What does Katie like best about book group? "Hearing everyone else's opinions and not having to write an essay about it!" she said.
By no means should a book club be limited to mothers and daughters. A mother/son or father/son group could be just the thing for parents looking for a unique activity with their boys.
A couple of things we have found helpful are, keeping the size of the group small (there are four pairs of us) and also a willingness to respect the girls' book choices. They choose among themselves and usually the girl at whose house we will be meeting next gets the final say.
Admittedly there were a few titles (especially when the girls were younger) that were somewhat painful to get through, however, despite the book choice, we always looked forward (and continue to look forward) to the opportunity to come together, share thoughts and enjoy truly delectable desserts.