Mothers and daughters at the Tome

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local bookclubs help parents, kids connect

By Joan Irene Krohn

When mothers and daughters start talking about a book they have just read, they connect on new levels even if they see the story differently.  A good example is the classic, “Pride and Prejudice.”

Daughters may see the story as old fashioned and the older style English language difficult to understand.  Mothers may see the romance with its conflicts and misunderstandings as tender and endearing.

All these feelings come out when mom and daughter talk it all out at a meeting of the Mother Daughter Book Club at Tome on the Range book store. Maybe “Pride and Prejudice” is old fashioned in its love story and yes, the language is different from today’s English, but its misunderstandings and conflicts still happen to today’s lovers and friends.

Sponsored by Tome on the Range book store, there are now two book club groups.  The older group got started six years ago and has been meeting during the winter school months since 2003.  Janet Chapman, who facilitates the club, is quite proud of this fact. Members come and go, but there is a core group that has held it all together.

Girls in this group are 13 to 16 years old. Sunday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. the book choice is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. On Sunday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. the book choice will be The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle. Call Janet Chapman at Tome (454-9944) for more details.

The younger group is for girls ages 9 to 12 and is facilitated by Asia Currey, another book club leader. There are about seven girls and their mothers in the group now. Currey said, “But there is always room for more.” This group meets once a month on a Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Tome on the Range. On Jan. 8, she and the group will discuss Erratum by Walter Sorrells. Erratum means a mistake in the text of a book, but the book’s story takes this idea farther and in a magical way the mistake becomes real life.

This younger group usually meets for about two hours. They have refreshments and enjoy discussing the high point of the book and other topics. Books have led to discussions about bullying in school, getting along with people who are different from you, racism and other important topics.

Gretchen Horne, 17, a student at Robertson High School, has attended book club meetings since she was 11. She usually goes with her sister, Amelia and her mother, Louise LaPlante. She said she likes the fact that the book club is not like school. In the matter of what book to read, she said, “We choose.” Also, the discussion isn’t like school either. “It’s not structured like school,” Horne said. “There aren’t any grades.”

Mother Carol Linder, and her daughter, Katie Linder, along with the other members of their group, discuss books with the help of Skype internet technology, since Katie is spending the year in Venezuela as a Rotary exchange student. Skype is a computer-to-computer phone call with video. Carol and the other book club members sit in her living room and talk while Katie talks from her room at her host family’s house in Venezuela.

“The book club has been a way for me to connect with Katie in a new way. It’s like you can track your kids’ lives through books,” Carol Linder said. Linder said she thinks moms feel a commonality with their daughters and find a way to talk about experiences without giving them the third-degree. “I just think it’s awesome.”

Sometimes girls are brought to group by grandmothers, aunts or other “significant adult woman in a girl’s life.” Chapman encourages those interested to come see what the experience is like. Some girls, who formerly didn’t like to read books and were “dragged” to the club by their mothers, have become enthusiastic readers.  New members are always welcome, Chapman said.

Some of the books have been adapted for movies and the girls love this because it gives more to discuss.  The club compares a movie with its book and that can be food for a lively discussion.  Gretchen Horne said she believes My Sister’s Keeper is going to be made into a movie. This book was one of Gretchen’s favorites. She likes books so much that she now works in the bookstore part time.

“It used to seem like the girls were shy about giving their opinions,” says Janet Chapman, a book club group leader at Tome on the Range, “but recently they are very talkative.” Now, the children are almost more likely to speak up than their moms are, Chapman added.

Having a good time is the group’s goal. The readings are engaging, and talking about what you’ve read is fun — especially fun with moms, daughters and new friends said Asia Currey.

Some of the kinds of topics that reading brought up are bullying and how to respond to it, getting along with people who are different from yourself, understanding racial and cultural differences, cheating on tests, talking about sex, using drugs and dealing with politics.

“Even kids who are not big readers really get into it,” said Asia Currey. One of the benefits of this program is that moms and daughters explore ideas together and bond over a book.

In summary, there are two Mother Daughter Book Clubs. One is for nine to twelve year olds and is facilitated by Asia Currey, a staff member of Tome on the Range.

The second group is for 13 to 16 year olds and is facilitated by Janet Chapman of Tome.

It’s the new year, and Chapman and Currey invite mothers and daughters to try out the Mother Daughter Book Clubs at Tome on the Range, 158 Bridge St. Call them at the book store at 454-9944 for more information.