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May 6, 2010

Mother Daughter Book Clubs

Posted by Dana

What better to talk about with Mother's Day approaching than mother-daughter book clubs, and who better to talk about than Cindy Hudson, author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

bookbybook.jpgIf you’ve ever wandered the aisles of your library or favorite bookstore frantically searching for your next book club selection, you know the pressure that can come from wanting to choose the perfect book. That may be especially true if you’re in charge of your next mother-daughter book club pick, where selections need to appeal to two generations of readers. You can make the choice easier by keeping the following points in mind.

Decide together as mom and daughter what you want your group to read. While moms may benefit from reading a pop-culture book every once in a while, and daughters may find value in a book with a strong moral message, neither generation will be happy if the reading list slants too far in one direction or the other. You need to each have veto power over the other’s choices.

  • Enlist the help of a professional, such as the children’s librarian at your local branch or the librarian at your daughter’s school. Talk to a bookseller about titles that have been successful with you group in the past and ask her opinion about others that may work.

  • Look for books with timeless themes, such as friendship, family relationships, honor, self-reliance, moral dilemmas or love. The best books to read and discuss will also have layers of meaning that the girls will get on one level, while the moms may find a deeper message.

  • Check the publisher’s recommended age range to help you determine if the book is the right level for your girls.  While adults can almost certainly handle any issue, you want your topics to grow in maturity as your girls do.

  • Take some pressure off choosing a book by remembering that everyone’s favorite doesn’t always give you something to talk about. For great discussions you often need differing opinions, and those are more likely to come out when everyone doesn’t like the book.

Keep in mind that even if you or someone else picks something that’s not your favorite, you can probably find things to like about it. My daughter and I will often talk about how a certain book is not really working for us, but we know Karen and Kirsten will like it. Or it’s just the kind of book that Ellen and Franny will love. That helps us appreciate pieces of it more than we normally would.

Here are a few recommendations for books that appeal to two generations of readers:

9 and 10 year olds

11 through 13 year olds

14+ year olds

Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at