In 2012, I started a book club to engage local mothers and daughters from various backgrounds, contexts, experiences, and schools (i.e. public, charter, private, and homeschool). Among the other participants in this affinity space are moms and professionals from fields such as law, business, and education. Erica and her daughter joined the book club in 2014. We are both former secondary ELA classroom teachers who now work as teacher educators in different local institutions of higher education.

Though our book club has evolved over time, the structure has remained the same. Our monthly 90-minute meetings begin with a discussion of the selected book, led by the host mother and daughter. We ate food connected with the book follows the discussion and then we participate in a book-centered activity, game, or craft. When this book club first started, I chose the books, aiming for a variety of authors, time periods, genres, and perspectives. Since then, although the majority of text selections are still made by me because of my expertise in young adult literature, recommendations and ideas from participants are also solicited, considered, and included.

What are the Constructions of Adolescence?

  • Adolescents differ in interests and goals.
  • Adolescents need to be taught, trained, and guided.
  • Adolescents are defined by age, limiting knowledge of self, others and the world.

What are Affinity Spaces?

  • Everyone is part of a common endeavor, interest, and practice, or goals are clear and reflected.
  • More experienced and less experienced participants share the same space.
  • Knowledge (specialized and generalized) is valued, shared, and distributed.

What happens in a Mother-Daughter Book Club?

Everyone meets at a central, agreed upon location once a month. The participants come together with the purpose of engaging with the selected text. Mothers and daughters read the same book, participate in book discussion and activities – like eating book-related food. We all value different opinions, understandings, and knowledge of the text.

Examples of what we did:

El Deafo – Everyone came as readers of this autobiographical graphic novel We shared responses to this text and created “warm fuzzies” and comic strips.

Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes – Mothers and daughters made paper cranes, ate Japanese food, discussed the book, and tried on Japanese clothing and artifacts.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy – I shared personal experiences related to being a “preacher’s kid,” discussed unlikely friendships and whale-watching. We also emailed the author.

How do you decide on a book to read?

  • Get input from both mothers and daughters
  • Collaborate with everyone to make group decisions
  • Look for suggestions from group members who are middle grade or young adult literature experts
  • Try to read a wide variety of genres, topics, and themes

List of books we’ve read

  • A Day No Pigs Would Die (Peck)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming (Woodson)
  • Catherine, Called Birdy (Cushman)
  • Echo (Ryan)
  • Esperanza Rising (Ryan)
  • El Deafo (Bell)
  • Fever 1793 (Halse Anderson)
  • Flora and Ulysses (DiCamillo)
  • From Anna (Little)
  • Harriet the Spy (Fitzhugh)
  • Hattie Big Sky (Lawson)
  • Hope Was Here (Bauer)
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins (O’Dell)
  • Julie of the Wolves (George)
  • Kira Kira (Cynthia Kadohata)  
  • Letters from Rifka (Hesse)
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Schmidt)
  • Lyddie (Paterson)
  • May B (Rose)
  • Mockingbird (Kathryn Erskine)
  • Moon Over Manifest (Vanderpool)
  • One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams-Garcia)
  • Out of My Mind (Draper)
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Taylor)
  • Snicker of Magic (Lloyd)
  • The Breadwinner (Ellis)
  • The Giver (Lowry)
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins (Paterson)
  • The Green Bicycle (Haifaa al-Mansour)
  • The Mighty Miss Malone (Curtis)
  • The One and Only Ivan (Applegate)

Recommended Resources

Van Duinen, D. V., Hamilton, E. R. & Rumohr-Voskuil, G. (in press). “Reading and Challenging Constructions Together: The Mother-Daughter Book Club as Affinity Space”. Voices From the Middle.

Rumohr-Voskuil, G. & Van Duinen, D. V. (March 30, 2015). Why Book Clubs Matter. Writers Who Care blog. http://writerswhocare.wordpress.com.

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