Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Allie's Book Club

Last year, Allie read The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick and LOVED it!

We spent a month reading Little Women and studying the life of Louisa May Alcott because of it.  That introduced us to transcendentalism and learning about Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson and reading some of the work suitable for children.  Allie also read Anne of Green Gables because of this series.  We watched Pride and Prejudice because of this series and Allie can't wait to be ready to read Austen!  The rabbit trails these books lead us on lasted for MONTHS.  This, to me, is interest-led learning and true learning at its best!

Allie had started talking about starting a Mother-Daughter book club last year and having her friends read and discuss one of the books as the first selection.  I was cautious about this.  I had been flamed by two homeschool bloggers - who I thought were my friends - because there is some bullying and mean girl drama in these books.  When I would gently suggest picking another book, Allie would say, "Forget it.  I really want to do one of the Mother Daughter Book Club books because it is a book club and shows you how a book club works."  Allie found MotherDaughter Book Club.com and showed me their review of The Mother Daughter Book Club.  She called me over to the computer when she was on Heather Vogel Frederick's website to show me how the author will call in to book clubs (it's Allie's dream to have heather Vogel Frederick call in, but we didn't have time to arrange it for this meeting).

Finally, around Christmastime, I got up the nerve to talk to some of our friends about the book club idea and the book Allie wanted to start with.  I was upfront about my anxiety with suggesting this book and the reason for it.  I was elated to tell Allie that our friends were open to the book.

Our first meeting was supposed to be last week, but since I was sick, we had to postpone it until this week.

Allie emailed everyone about the postponement.  She also emailed them a few questions about the book and asked them to jot down their favorite scene or character and what they liked about it.  She did ALL of the planning for this book club herself!  She cleaned the house and planned the menu.  We went shopping together and she and Piper made scones and brownies and fruit salad (they gave up cookies for Lent!).  They decided tea was a fitting drink for a book club and enjoyed learning how to brew it in a teapot :)

There are 8 girls and 6 moms in our group (2 of us have 2 girls).  Allie and Piper are the only two girls who were ever in school.  The discussion was lively and lasted much longer than any of us anticipated.  The girls spent a lot of time figuring out which character they were most like - one was Cassidy and the others are Jess or Emma.  They all like Jess a lot and spent quite a bit of time pondering what it would be like to live on an organic farm.  They also felt bad for Jess that her mom was an actress and not at home.  None of them liked Megan, they called her "the mean girl".  Most of us moms have read Queen Bees and Wannabees and other books on the topic (as well as having seen a play on bullying together) so the conversation took a turn into the reasons why people act this way and experiences we have all had with these situations (moms and homeschooled kids) and how the situation made us feel.  One of the girls, a 9 year old, said "You can't let what someone else says define you" which we all thought was profound!  All of the girls had sympathy for Emma and could relate to her on some level, which made for a very interesting and bonding conversation as well.

In the book, the girls read Little Women and there is a lot of references to it, the girls in the book are always asking: What would Jo do?  Allie was the only girl in the group to have read Little Women and tried to give some insight into the book.  At the end we picked our next book and it was unanimous: Little Women.  It's a long book so we are giving ourselves two months. Since Allie and Piper loved Number the Stars so much, however, and it's a short book, we decided to make that the April selection!

Allie said this book club turned out to be just the way she thought it would and she could not be happier!

I am so proud of her for coming up with the idea, being persistent about it, implementing it and working hard to make it a 
smashing SUCCESS!