Book/Movie Pairings Recommended from a Reader

March 5, 2010

Reader Traci Z. from Arcata, California has sent in more book/movie combinations to be considered by mother-daughter book clubs. Here’s what Traci has to say:

“My 2nd grade daughter and I just read Tuck Everlasting (by Natalie Babbitt) and then watched the movie and talked about the differences.

We also are reading The Story of Helen Keller (by Lorena A. Hickok) and has been a really great conversation piece. I know I saw the movie once when I was young but haven’t looked for it yet. Also Island of the Blue Dolphins (by Scott O’Dell) was a good one—lots of tears for us though, but so good.

We are so excited to try out your 2nd/3rd grade list and for some ideas from another mom who blogged about her mother daughter reading list. I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one reading books with her daughter! It has been such a bonding experience for us and so empowering for my daughter. I’ve been trying to read female strength books and it seems to be having a posititive effect!”

Thanks to Traci for sending in the suggestions. I hadn’t thought about reading a book about Helen Keller then watching The Miracle Worker with Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. There’s also the newer version with Patty Duke and Melissa Gilbert. I could only find Island of the Blue Dolphins in VHS, but there may be copies at the library too for anyone with VCR players.

Mother-Daughter Book Club Meeting—Lesser Read Classics

February 9, 2010

Last night my daughter Catherine and I went to our first mother-daughter book club of the year. We had read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, who was a contemporary of Charles Dickens. The book was challenging—it was nearly 500 pages and written in the style popular in the 1860s when writers were paid by the word and published their books by installments in magazines. Because of the length, two of the mother-daughter pairs had not finished it. But whether we finished or not, we all liked what we read, and we had a great discussion of how the book was first published and how excited people were to buy the magazine each time a new installment came out.

Our group also talked about how this book is among the forgotten classics—books from long ago that have stayed in print but for some reason have not made it onto the list of must-read classics. We decided to create our own list of favorites that may fall under this category, and here’s what we came up with:

Lesser-Read Classics

  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (14+)
  • The Adventures of Pinnochio by Carlo Collodi (9-12)
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London (14+)
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (9-12)
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (14+)
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (9-12)
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (9-12)
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (12+)
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (14+)
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (7-11)
  • Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (14+)

While many of these titles are well known because of the movies made from them, they’re not commonly recommended for reading. I have read many of these to my daughters outside of book club, and I’m looking forward to reading others now that we’ve talked about them. Do you have a book to add to this list? Post a comment below to tell us about it.

Working Moms and Mother-Daughter Book Clubs

February 3, 2010

I’m often asked how working moms can fit being in a mother-daughter book club into their already busy schedules. It is a challenge, but it can be done and I believe the rewards are well worth the effort. Most of the moms in my two book clubs work full or part-time. And most of the moms I interviewed for Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Mother-Daughter Book Clubs work as professionals too. Here are a few tips to make sure book club doesn’t become just one more thing to stress about.

  • Get the book soon after it’s assigned. If the library doesn’t have a copy in, you can put it on hold and have it sent to your local branch. If you prefer to purchase your books, buy it as soon after you know what you’ll be reading as possible.
  • Make reading your book club selection part of the time you spend with your daughter. If you read out loud to her, it lets you schedule time in your busy day to connect one-on-one with your daughter.
  • If you host book club at your house, enlist help to get ready. Even if your daughter is young, it’s likely she can help you tidy the house or put food out.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Do you have other children who will need looking after while you’re at your book club? See if you can arrange a regular sitter to help out on meeting nights. Do you need to drive straight from work to be at the meeting? Ask if someone else in the group can bring your daughter.
  • Set a regular meeting date, like the first Monday of the month or the third Thursday. This will help you plan around other events you need to schedule.

If being in a book club with your daughter is a priority, finding ways to make it work will be easier for you.

Questions to Answer When You Choose Your Book Club Book

January 28, 2010

When you choose your book club books, have you ever thought to start off your discussion by answering a few questions about why you chose it? Starting out with this little step can get the ball rolling and provide insight to the rest of your conversation. Here are a few questions you may want to answer:

  • What made you want to read it?
  • What made you suggest it to the group for reading?
  • Did it live up to your expectations? Why or why not?
  • Are you sorry/glad that you suggested it to the group?

There’s often a lot of self-imposed pressure when you choose a book for your book group to pick something everyone will like. But unless you’ve read the book first, you may not even like it yourself! It actually helps you relax and lead a discussion more easily if you can say, “I expected to like this book because…” “I think this book brings up several issues we can talk about like…” Then you can focus more on the discussion topics and less on whether everyone liked and disliked the book, which is very subjective. I’ve rarely seen a book that 100 percent of our book club members liked and would recommend to others. And that’s a good thing actually. Because the best discussion usually comes about through disagreement, although I’m talking about respectful disagreement where you may benefit and learn from someone else’s opinion even if you don’t share it.

Be the first to open up, and you may just inspire everyone in your group to be more candid.

Mommy on a Shoestring Podcast

January 15, 2010

If you missed the conversation I had about mother-daughter book clubs with hosts Beth Engelman and Jenna Riggs at Mommy on a Shoestring, you may wantt o check out the podcast. Just look for recent shows and click on the podcast for January 14, 2010. We had a great conversation about when to start your book club, how you can choose books and more.

Mommy on a Shoestring Radio Show

January 14, 2010

In just a little while I’ll be talking with Beth Engelman and Jenna Riggs, hosts of Mommy on a Shoestring Radio Show. I’d love to have you listen in as I talk about creating your mother-daughter book club, books you may want to choose with your group and more. Just click on the show’s website and listen to the live feed beginning at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (12 p.m. MST, 1 p.m. CST, 2 p.m. EST). If you can’t make it, a link to the show’s podcast will be up on the site soon after the show is over.

While you’re visiting the site, you may also be interested in listening to some of their past shows talking about family fitness, cheap family fun, gift giving, and crafts. Beth also has a bi-monthly video and column at with lots of ideas for family activities.

Christina Hamlett’s Interview in American Chronicle

December 24, 2009

Recently I was able to answer a few questions for Christina Hamlett about mother-daughter book clubs, the writing life, reading, and my guidebook, Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Here’s the link to the interview at American Chronicle.

Christina was a wonderful resource when I was writing Book by Book. She’s been an actress and director, and she also teaches and writes, which is why she had lots of helpful advice to add to the chapter on Book by Book that tells how to stage a play with your book club members. She’s also written a great book to be read by book clubs with older daughters called Movie Girl. Here’s a past interview of Christina herself at Mother Daughter Book

December Mother-Daughter Book Club Newsletter Now Available

December 14, 2009

A couple of days ago I sent out the December newsletter for subscribers at Mother Daughter Book This month’s edition has ideas for gifts for book lovers, including tea bags with literary sayings and reading-themed jewelry. I’ve also included reviews of Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko and Lips Touch, Three Times by Laini Taylor, illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo, both of which I highly recommend. You’ll also find an essay on writing poetry by Sage Cohen, author of Writing the Life Poetic, and an article about shifting the holiday focus to giving, by Maggie Macaulay of Whole Hearted Parenting.

And you’ll find new info about my book reviews at Reading Local Portland. Interested in signing up so you can receive the newsletters direct to you mailbox each month? Just visit the subscription page and follow the instructions.

Mother-Daughter Book Club Meeting and Book Review: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

December 8, 2009

Last night Catherine and I went to our mother-daughter book club meeting. We often don’t meet in December, when everyone is pulled in so many different directions, but this year we all wanted to share a little bit of holiday cheer. Show-Ling put us all in a festive mood with an amazing feast of shrimp, spinach pie, meatballs, and lots of yummy sides. Karen brought cookies so we had something sweet to share. A fire in the fireplace made us all feel nice and toasty, especially since it was so cold outside. It was a perfect atmosphere to talk about the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

Word is Hoff wrote this little gem of a book while he was working in Portland’s Japanese Garden in the early 1980s. It’s an interesting introduction to Taoism illustrated through the actions of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Most of us knew nothing about Taoism or its principles, but the Tao of Pooh gives simple explanations that are easy to grasp. It also gives a brief description of the differences Hoff sees between Confusionism, Buddhism and Taoism. Since most of us in the group haven’t had much exposure to Eastern religions, it was interesting to read his point of view.

Hoff uses excerpts from A. A. Milne’s Pooh stories to talk about Tao Te Ching and its creator, Lao Tse. As Hoff assigned each Pooh character a defining characteristic—Owl is wise, Rabbit is clever, Eeyore complains and Piglet frets while Pooh just is—each of us was asked to say which character we are most like and if we would like to change that. We all wanted to be more like Pooh. A little more accepting, a little less stressed, a little more able to sit back, eat some honey and enjoy life. All in all, it was an interesting disucssion.

Next up, we’re headed in a totally different direction. In early February we’ll be talking about The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins. It’s been called “the first and greatest English detective novel,” and it should be an interesting change from our norm. Alannah likes mysteries, and this was her choice, so we’re all excited to dive into it.

Guest Post with Author Kirby Larson—Authors and Book Clubs Partnership

November 30, 2009

Author Kirby Larson recently featured an essay I wrote for her on her blog about authors and book clubs connecting. Kirby is one of the first authors I heard of who met with a mother-daughter book club near her home some years back. Read what I have to say on Kirby’s blog about this winning combination.