Cindy Hudson grew up in Brusly, Louisiana, where she nourished her early love of reading while wandering the cubbyhole rooms of her local library, a converted Victorian mansion. Wandering the aisles of bookstores and libraries are still two of her favorite things, and if she can do that with her husband and daughters she's even happier. Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press 2009) is Cindy's first book. Her website (and its companion blog) features reading lists, book reviews, author interviews, book giveaways and other book club resources. Hudson lives with her husband and two daughters in Portland, Oregon, where she writes weekly for The Oregonian. Visit Cindy's website.
Interviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 10/12/2009
Read Judy's review of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs for StoryCircleBookReviews.org.
How did you come up with the concept of Book by Book?
I had been in book clubs for years with both of my daughters when I took an online writing class with Christina Katz. One of the exercises in the class had students identify things they were passionate about and could write about for years if the opportunity presented itself. I put down mother-daughter book clubs as a passion, and Christina commented that it was a huge subject. I thought, "Yes, she's right. I think I could do something with this." So I created Mother Daughter Book Club.com as a resource. The book grew out of the concept I created there.
Is there a best time to start a mother-daughter book club?
You could say that when your daughter is nine it's an ideal time to start a mother-daughter book club. She probably really likes to hang out with you then, and she looks up to you and would welcome the chance to spend more time with you. Her reading skills are also more likely to be developed enough for her to take on challenging books.
With that said, you can also start younger, say seven or eight. You may want to keep the texts a bit simpler and choose books that are good to read aloud. Children can often understand books read to them that they wouldn't easily be able to read themselves.
You can also start older as long as your daughter is happy to go along. We've even had moms and daughters join our group when the girls were already in high school. It's never too late, really.
Who should be invited?
Before you decide who you want to invite, think about how large the club should be. If you're happy in large groups, you may want to invite everyone in your daughter's class at school, or members of her Girl Scout troop. You could invite several friends to begin with, and then ask each of them to invite several friends. Just remember that every invitation represents two members.
If you prefer a small group, you'll want to be a bit more thoughtful about who you want to approach. You could ask one friend and then together you could think of two more moms and daughters to invite. Then decide how many more you want to add, if any.
Where do I find reliable information for choosing age-appropriate books?
You can start with the children's librarian at your local public library, or talk to the librarian at your daughter's school. She will likely have lots of good titles to suggest for you. You can also approach your favorite bookseller. Often you'll find employee book reviews and recommendations there. I list 100 books divided into four age groups in Book by Book. I also note age recommendations for the books I review on my blog.
How do mother-daughter book clubs benefit girls, mothers, and their relationship with one another?
I could talk all day about this, because moms and daughters both benefit in so many ways. But here are a few of the most important benefits:
- When you're in a mother-daughter book club together you carve out time just for the two of you, with no siblings or spouse/other parent to focus on. You're saying to your daughter that she's important enough for you to set aside time for her alone.
- Books give you an entrée to talk about important issues in life. It's an excellent way to let your daughter know your values and beliefs without seeming to preach specifically to her. And it lets you bring up topics that may otherwise be difficult or embarrassing to talk about, like having sex with a boyfriend, drinking alcohol at parties, date rape...the list of topics goes on and on. Of course, you won't start out with heavy issues like these when she's nine. Instead you'll grow into them as she grows older.
- Sharing your opinions in a mother-daughter book club discussion can also help both of you hone your speaking skills. It's a safe place to practice forming your opinion, learning how to articulate it well, and defending what you believe when others disagree. You can also learn how to be swayed when others present a convincing argument of their own thoughts. Those are life skills that most of us can practice no matter our age.
Cindy Hudson with her daughters Catherine and Madeleine
Photo by Jill Greenseth