There is power in the written word. And as I kid, I was obsessed with that power. I was always reading. Books littered my room ever since I started reading (and before that thanks to an elementary teacher mom), and I was totally that girl who had a book with her wherever she went. I read everything from fantasy to drama, mystery, historical fiction, and The Babysitter’s Club. As an adult, that voracious appetite for books hasn’t waned. I usually have a book tucked into my bag that I shlep with me everywhere, and have a number of books in e-format downloaded to my phone for easy reading as well.
And I’m pleased to say that my love of books has trickled down to my son. Every night we read a chapter or two of a book for bedtime. We’ve made our way through numerous Roald Dahl books, the Harry Potter series, and just the other day started the first in The Mysterious Benedict Society series. As we choose books to read, I’m very conscious about finding ones that lift up both boys and girls (Matilda was a big hit here!). I remember the world of books I thrust myself into, and I want to make sure the one my son starts diving in is healthy, varied, and as inclusive as possible.
So it was with great interest that I dug into the recently released Her Next Chapter by my friend, Lori Day. Lori, along with her daughter Charlotte Kugler, shares her own experience with books, and in particular a book club started by the two of them when Charlotte was in 3rd grade. Lori was navigating the myriad issues that crop up for mothers of daughters (sexualization of girlhood, negative body image, bullying, gender stereotypes, etc…) and Charlotte simply loved to read. What developed was a mother-daughter book club that explored books where girls were strong, central characters and the messages were ones that push backed against those that were seen in mainstream culture.
Her Next Chapter not only talks about the genesis of Lori and Charlotte’s club; it also dives into why they are so important, and even better – provides tips and suggestions for starting your own. While I don’t have a daughter, I still gained some useful insight, and a book of excellent book recommendations. (Though, if anyone wants to create a mother-son book club, I’m all ears, er… eyes!).
Lori’s book is incredibly useful for parents struggling with ways to help their daughters survive girlhood with a sense of agency and empowerment.And these aren’t just platitudes. Her Next Chapter is divided into topics, tackling issues like bullying, LGBT/gender-nonconforming girls & women, leadership, mean girls, body image and more. Each chapter provides suggested reading, discussion questions and offers some reflection by Lori’s daughter and co-author, Charlotte. And, with the push to create book clubs, she reminds us how important intentional community is – what better way to ride these waves of parenting than with others that are right in the thick of it alongside you? Lori says it best in her introduction,
“In a culture that can make the job of raising girls intimidating and isolating, it is crucial to have ways f coping and persevering that bring mothers and daughters together in uplifting and pleasurable ways.”
Update (7/1): A winner has been chosen. Thank you to everyone who has entered! You can still get a copy of Lori & Charlotte’s book, out now! For more info, check out Mother Daughert Book Club.