Time for another happy story. Poor me, I have so many success stories to share at the end of this year! 🙂
I’m very pleased to have played a small role in supporting Cindy Hudson in the selection and development of her book concept for Book By Book, The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press 2009).
There is nothing a teacher loves more than a student who is conscientious, focused, and consistent and Cindy Hudson has been all of those things over the years while launching and raising her writing career alongside her two daughters.
This year, Cindy’s oldest daughter left home for college and guess what happened at the same time? Her years of steady effort and passion for her topic blossomed into the publication of her first nonfiction book.
I’m thrilled to share this interview with Cindy with you. I’ve included a picture of a bunch of us celebrating Cindy’s book deal at the 2008 Willamette Writers Conference and pics from her recent book launch party, including a photo of the wonderful (and delicious) cake that was served there. I hope you will let her example inspire you to achieve your own publication success story.
Q. Why did you decide to start mother-daughter book clubs with your daughters?
A. Even though she loved books, my oldest daughter, Madeleine, came to reading slowly. I was thrilled when she started reading voraciously on her own in third grade. But when Madeleine came to me in fourth grade with the news that some of her friends said it wasn’t cool to read anymore, I knew I had to do something to counteract that. Forming a mother-daughter book club seemed like a great way to keep her reading for fun.
Three years later when Catherine turned nine, she was ready to start her own club too. I know part of her motivation was seeing how much fun Madeleine and I had in our book group.
Q. One of your book groups has been meeting for eight years now and the other for five. How do you think being in these clubs has benefited you and your daughters?
A. While there may be an endless number of small, day-to-day things we’ve gained from being in a book club together, there are a couple of major benefits that I’d say have made a difference in our lives.
One, it was a way for us to spend time together reading and talking about life issues as my daughters grew. I believe we can talk about anything now, from problems with friends and boyfriends to issues at school and more. I think it would have been difficult to tackle some of the topics we’ve discussed, like sex, underage drinking, and using drugs, without the entrée a book discussion provided.
Second, we’ve become really great friends with our book club moms and daughters. Many of them we didn’t know before we started our groups, but now it’s hard for us to imagine not seeing all of them on a regular basis. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my daughters’ peers, and they know they have other moms they can rely on if they need help.
Q. How old should your daughter be when you start a mother-daughter book club?
A. If there’s an “ideal age” it may be nine. That’s when your daughter is probably able to tackle more complex texts when she reads on her own, and she’s beginning to understand more about relationships. It’s also a time when she’s likely to enjoy spending time with you, both the two of you together and in a group with other moms and daughters.
That being said, you can find ways to simplify your group meetings and discussions if you start earlier. And I’d say it’s never too late if your daughter wants to be in a group with you.
Q. Why did you write this book?
A. It was partly born of my own frustration of not finding reliable information to help moms find good, age-appropriate books that appealed to both their daughters and them. And I couldn’t find much advice on running meetings that take in the needs of two generations either. So I started a website first, www.motherdaughterbookclub.com. The site features book reviews, author interviews, and ideas for meetings as well as other resources. But there was so much more helpful information that I didn’t have room for on the website that I knew I could include in the book. And I thought it would be helpful to give real examples from book clubs all over the country as well as feature advice from parenting experts and others.
Q. What advice do you have for moms who have sons?
A. Read together as much as you can, and encourage your husband to be in a father-son book club with them. While it’s true that you can create a mother-son book club, I think it’s more difficult to have in-depth discussions on meaningful topics as they grow. I often hear from librarians who say that lack of interest from dads is the biggest reason there are few father-son book clubs. But sons need time with their dads just as mothers need time with their daughters. And there are so many books that have multi-generational appeal for guys it should be easy for dads to be more on the bandwagon with this concept.
Q. Working moms may be worried that they don’t have enough time to be in a mother-daughter book club. Do you have any advice for them?
A. Every mom but one in my mother-daughter book clubs works either full time or part time outside the home. And most of the moms I interviewed for Book by Book also work. Many shared good ideas on fitting in time for mother-daughter book club. They may do I find that working moms are already good at a bit of extra juggling. Prepping for book club creates a good excuse to schedule precious time just for you and your daughter.
Q. What would you say makes a book a good choice for clubs to read?
A. Surprisingly it’s not the book that everyone likes, even though you may feel pressure to opt for something likeable when it’s your turn to pick. For instance, when we read Twilight in Madeleine’s book club we didn’t really have much to talk about. We all liked it; some of us (mostly the girls) loved it. There was not much more to say. Books that create layered discussions on multiple issues that group members may have differences of opinion on are more likely to keep your discussions lively. These books will keep you talking and thinking about them even after you leave the meeting.
Q. Can you give us your top three books recommendations for mother-daughter book clubs?
A. Hmm…it’s so difficult to narrow it down to just three. How about three in each of three age categories?
Nine and 10 year olds:
- A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
- Boy by Roald Dahl
- Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Eleven through 13 year olds:
- Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
- The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
- Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Fourteen years old and up:
- A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Light Years by Tammar Stein
Q. Can you do other fun things in mother-daughter book clubs besides reading the books?
A. Absolutely. Some of the most fun I’ve had with my groups has been on weekend getaways we schedule once each year. Other moms have found it rewarding to volunteer with their book groups or stage a play or write poetry. You may even find yourself meeting with the author of the book you read. There are so many opportunities for enrichment, and you can decide together as a group which ones you want to pursue.
Q. Your oldest daughter is now in college, and your youngest will soon be out of high school too. Do you think your groups will continue even when the girls don’t live at home?
A. I believe they will in some form. The moms in Madeleine’s group all bought tickets to a visiting author series this year, so we can keep meeting together regularly. And we’re hoping to plan two events a year that involve all of us, one over winter break from college and one in summer. I see us being involved in each other’s lives for many years to come, even if we don’t meet in our traditional mother-daughter book club format. And who knows? We may be lucky enough to morph our groups into adult mother-daughter book clubs.
Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She is a mother-daughter book club consultant, journalist, and editor. Hudson has more than twenty years of experience as a marketing and public relations professional. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at www.motherdaughterbookclub.com and www.motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com.