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Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs by Cindy Hudson, 285 pp RL: For Moms!

Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs by Cindy Hudson is, in a nutshell, a spectacular book. While she has an extensive knowledge and obvious love of books, she has something that trumps that: experience. Hudson has two now teenaged daughters, Madeleine and Catherine, for whom she started individual mother-daughter book clubs in 2001 and 2004, respectively. In addition to her personal experience, Hudson has had the opportunity to talk to other moms and daughters in book clubs through her excellent website, The Mother-Daughter Book Club as well as the accompanying blog that Cindy Hudson writes. Here you will find a community and a peer group, which is really what being in a book group, be it mother-daughter or otherwise, is all about.

As I read through Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs I felt sad all over again that this was not an experience my daughter and I shared. Although both my daughter and I have always been voracious readers, the hurdle I experienced when contemplating starting a group was lack of possible participants. School and Girl Scouts did not provide a big enough pool to choose from and it never occurred to me to look elsewhere for members. However, I feel confident that, had this book been available ten years ago, I would have found a way to make a mother-daughter book group happen and thrive. Almost right off the bat, Hudson addresses the issue of how to form a group in her book, which was a revelation for me, even though I had read at least one other book on how to start a mother-daughter book group when I was contemplating forming a group. This thorough, unique insight, as well as personal experience x 2 is invaluable. To top it off, Hudson is insightful, straightforward and provides a wealth of information which makes Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs extremely readable.

Before you read another word I write about this book, I suggest you visit The Mother-Daughter Book Club and the accompanying blog that Cindy Hudson writes. Here you will find a community and a peer group, which is really what being in a book group, be it mother-daughter or otherwise, is all about. Through her experience in the two mother-daughter book groups she participates in, Hudson has had the chance to interview an impressive list of authors, including Gennifer Choldenko, author of the Newbery Honor winning Al Capone Does my Shirts and the recently published Al Capone Does My Shoes. Choldenko also writes the foreword for Hudson's book, making a great case for starting a mother-daughter book club when she notes that, upon meeting and talking with the daughters in Hudson's book club, she found they "had such strongly held opinions [and] each had cultivated the ability to think critically about books." Choldenko makes her own case for starting a mother-daughter book club when she talks about her experiences with her daughter, now ten, and the club that they have been in for over two years. As Choldenko says about the daughters she interacted with in Hudson's book club after she gave a reading at their local bookstore, "it seemed to me that the experience of discussing books together on a regular basis had enlivened, emboldened and enriched them. When I met those girls, I thought to myself, That's what I want for my daughter." It never even occurred to me that there could be benefits to participating in a mother-daughter book club beyond the obvious - a reason to read books and spend time with your daughter. But, reading Hudson's book made me realize that participation in a group of this nature can expand the inquisitive, thoughtful traits that already exist in our daughters while at the same time deepening and maturing their inner voices and giving them the confidence to share their ideas with others. For mothers, their are unseen benefits as well. As Hudson writes of her own experience, "I passionately believe that mother-daughter book clubs help us stay connected wit our daughters and build lasting relationships with other people as well. These groups are capable of changing your life in ways you can't imagine when you are just beginning to consider organizing your first meeting."

If this isn't enough to get you emailing or calling mothers with daughters, let me share chapter headings from Book by Book: The Complete Guide to CreatingMother-Daughter Book Clubs with you. Part One, A New Chapter: How to Get Your Club Started includes sections with titles like, When to Start a Mother-Daughter Book Club, Choosing the Books, What Will You Do at Meetings? and Should You Pick a Theme? Each chapter includes a boxed topic with themes like, Reading Aloud to Your Daughter, Tips for Working Moms, Make Time for Moms Only, Coaxing a Reluctant Reader and Dads are Important to Mother-Daughter Book Clubs, Too. Once she gets the mechanics out of the way, Hudson moves on to the good stuff like invitations, discussion ideas and food. Besides discussing the effects of food at a meeting, the impact that places on the hosting family and how to alleviate that, Hudson has an appendix with recipes, some of which are straight from books and authors! What I find most valuable about this book, though, are the aspects coverred in Part 2, Turning the Page: Keeping Your Book Club Thriving and Part 3, Getting Over the Bumps: How to Handle Typical Club Challenges. Hudson has some very creative tips for keeping book groups fresh, such as connecting with an author, (including a list of names and emails of authors who enjoy connecting with book groups!!) taking a field trip, staging a play, volunteering together and spending a weekend away. The final part of Hudson's book can only be written by someone with her years of experience and the topics covered are crucial for book groups that stay together for years, as the girls grow and the books the group reads take on more mature themes. Hudson has tips on how to discuss sex, drugs and alcohol among other things, as well as solving conflicts with other members, what happens when someone wants to quit, adding new members and when to consider restricting your club. Hudson goes well beyond recommending books and meeting ideas and discusses the nitty gritty aspects that are sure to come up over the course of meetings.

Finally, Hudson is an amazing resource when it comes to books. In addition to the two book groups she is in with her daughters, she is in an adult group with her husband and reads and reviews books on her blog. Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs has an appendix that tells you where to look for books on the web and another that lists 100 books that might be right for your club. Her website also provides reading lists, favorites, reviews, resources and author interviews she has conducted. With Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs and Cindy Hudson behind you, there is no reason that you can't start a successful group of your own! Unless you don't have a daughter. In that case, I think that Hudson's book could easily be adapted to suit mother-son or even father-son book groups and Hudson's blog even has a list of Good Books for Boys to help you with that!

I have been meaning to read Heather Vogel Frederick's The Mother-Daughter Book Club since it hit the shelves in 2007. Book by Book: The Complete Guide to CreatingMother-Daughter Book Clubs was just the nudge I needed to move it to the top of my pile, and am I ever glad I did. Hudson mentions Vogel's book throughout Book by Book: The Complete Guide to CreatingMother-Daughter Book Clubs and also lists her as an author who enjoys talking to book groups, especially mother-daughter groups! Hudson even includes a story from a mom who read Vogel's book while her daughter was at swimming lessons one summer, decided to start her own group and had the good fortune to get in touch with Vogel while she was visiting this mom's hometown. For their first ever meeting, the group read The Mother-Daughter Book Club and got to discuss the book with the author! How cool is that???


Alex said…
this book sounds very interesting and it would make a great resource to own. thank you for writing about it.
Cheri said…
Do you have any recommendations about a mother/son bookclub? I love this one and can't wait until my daughter is older! Maybe I could still use the guidelines...Thanks!
Tanya said…
Cheri- Check out Cindy Hudson's website or click on the link I made to her "books for boys." If you have a daughter you will want to be in a book club with in the future, I suggest you buy the book now and see how you can adapt it to a mother/son book club. The book itself is not specifically "girl" oriented, but, I think that the general nature of females lends itself better to what we traditionally think of as a book club. With mothers and sons I would imagine the biggest hurdle would be engaging the boys and finding ways to get them to discuss the book in a group - which means picking the right books. If you do a little leg work, I'm sure you could email Cindy Hudson and ask for some tips.
Cindy Hudson said…
Tanya, your thoughts about the mother-son book club are right on. A librarian I know also suggests that you plan active projects for boys at book club meetings. It may take a little more legwork for you to find games or other activities appropriate for the book, but some of the games in my book are good for whatever book you read.

Also, it may be a little more difficult holding your group together into middle school and beyond. That's when it could get awkward for sons to talk about certain topics in front of their moms. But you never know how long things will last unless you start them. And I definitely believe however long you're able to meet will be worth it.

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