Talking about literature and life

Bonding: A Mount View book club is among many reading groups bringing mothers and daughters together.

Book club

Howard Live

May 13, 2004|By Lisa Kawata | Lisa Kawata,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It was a dark and stormy night in April -- but the traffic-stopping rain didn't prevent the moms and teen-age daughters of the Mount View Mother Daughter Book Club from sloshing into the Glenwood library for their monthly discussion.

The evening's selection: The Amazon Papers by Beverly Keller. And the teens were pretty tough critics.

"How many teens do you know use words like `obfuscate'?" asked Kim Sides, 15, who was there with her mother, Therese Sides.

Even though this book wouldn't go down on the list as a favorite, their time together wasn't a total washout. At the end of the discussion, everyone played a game that matched clues to characters. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were handed out as prizes for each correct answer.

FOR THE RECORD - An article on mother-daughter book clubs in yesterday's edition of The Sun in Howard County incorrectly stated the high school class of the original group of girls in the Book Buddies club. They are juniors. Also, the article may have given the erroneous impression that The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, which was written in 1996, had been published last year. The Sun regrets the error.

"We make it fun," said Julie Wright, 14, who attends with her mom, Gretchen Wright.

The Mount View club is one of an increasing number of book groups that are bringing together mothers and daughters to talk about literature and life. This club was started three years ago by Mary Jo Neil, when her daughter, Joanne, now 14, was in seventh grade at Mount View Middle School. Even though her daughter has always loved to read, Neil and other mothers from Joanne's Girl Scout troop were concerned that their girls weren't reading enough for pleasure.

"It was a ready-made group," Neil said.

They started by reading a few serious books, such as Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis and One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox. But Neil realized that the girls didn't like intense material.

"Our kids like light," she said.

Neil was inspired to start the club after reading The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How Ten Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh and Learn Through Their Love of Reading, by Shireen Dodson.

Filled with her experiences of starting her own mother-daughter book club in 1996, Dodson gives advice for organizing similar clubs.

She includes favorite book lists by popular authors, reading-related activities, sample discussion questions and two extensive resource lists for mothers and daughters.

Dodson's book also motivated Lisa Bankman to start a book club in 2001 when her daughter, Judy, was in eighth grade. The group, called Book Buddies, included Judy's best friends from elementary and middle school and their moms.

The girls are now sophomores in high school, and even though a few of the original members have dropped out, new mother-daughter pairs have joined from Atholton High School, where Judy attends.

"I really wanted to provide my daughter and her friends with a supportive environment and expose them to literature that they might not encounter in school," Lisa Bankman said.

A librarian by training, she thinks that sometimes what appears on the school reading lists can be dry to teens. So she likes to offer books that are more contemporary.

"There's a lot being written, even in the last year -- that they wouldn't get in school -- that's fabulous," she said, naming books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

The eight girls and their moms who make up Book Buddies take turns being host of the meetings.

Food and drinks are provided. Discussion questions are written on cards and passed out, and each girl reads one.

"Sometimes they answer it, but they don't have to," Bankman said. "But it's a way to involve everybody in the discussion."

Bankman's advice to mothers who want to start book clubs with their daughters is to be flexible and open-minded. Find out what types of literature appeal to the girls and search out quality fiction. She suggested reading book reviews, talking with librarians and asking friends.

What's the best part about doing this with her daughter? "Being in a forum where the girls open up and talk about things that really matter to them," Bankman said.

In addition to the Mount View Mother Daughter Book Club, the Glenwood library is host of another mother-daughter club, for ages 11 and older, led by teen specialist Kris Buker. Information on both clubs: 410-313-5577.

The east Columbia library is host of a Mother-Daughter Book Break, for ages 12 to 15, on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is May 26. Information: 410-313- 7730.

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