Upon reading Lori Day’s Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, I am completely floored with possibilities. Her Next Chapter, at first glance, may be meant as an organizational tool for beginning and maintaining effective Mother-Daughter book clubs (which is covered in the Part 1 chapters); but Day’s book additionally discusses current issues and obstacles our young girls are facing, ways of handling those obstacles and teaching our girls about them through conversation and—get this—reading books (covered in the Part 2 chapters).
Being twenty-six years old with my first child (a daughter) on the way, this book was pertinent and timely on a personal level. Upon entering this book, I had never even heard of Mother-Daughter book clubs and loved the prospect of someday starting one with my own daughter, opening new avenues and conversations through the power of reading and discussion. I started making personal lists of all the books I would want to include in my library and was eager to see Day’s suggestions. What I never anticipated about these book clubs was the prospect of collaborating with other mothers, getting to know my daughter’s friends and peers, and how long we might be able to be together as a group. Not to mention the attention to detail in Part 2 on identifying and discussing key issues in our daughters’ lives, via our observations of our daughters, the books we read with them, and the discussions we may have within the book club and other book-club-related activities and events.
All of that being said, however, the timeliness of this text in a larger global setting is much more important—and this is an extremely timely text for our nation. Never before have issues with gender normativity and stereotypes, rape culture and the sexualization of women been of greater focus and importance; and this book largely focuses on these topics, among others, explaining not only the theoretical meaning behind these terms, but how they impact our girls, how our girls may embrace them (or be captured by them), and how we can discuss these topics with our girls to bring greater meaning, authenticity and value to their lives than is offered by hypersexualization.
Perhaps what is the most interesting (and startling) to me is the velocity at which all of these topics have become prevalent, and even accepted and embraced (by some), in our society. When I was a child, there were well-defined toys-for-girls aisles in the stores where my mother shopped, and all of the toys we looked at were offered in pink; but it was still a new enough idea that buying the colorful or gender-neutral option was not considered out-of-bounds by observers. However, issues with sexuality and the new pressures of social media were totally lost on my mother, a Baby Boomer; and we were left with little to get us through the tween and teen years. Though I am in a far better position in this way than my mother, I carry no delusions that I understand every single thing my daughter will have to face and the sorts of pressures that will be presented to her that may have not been prevalent when I was her age. However, having Her Next Chapter on hand, as “cheesy” as this might sound, is a great reassurance and what I believe to be a much-needed tool in my future as a mother.
Whether or not we are ever able to generate our own Mother-Daughter Book Club, I still envision myself returning to this book for the purpose of staying current with the topics presented in this book, and for book recommendations for my daughter’s library (which will be present and discussed on our own time in a more leisurely fashion, if a Book Club does not manage to thrive). Lori Day and her daughter, Charlotte Kugler, have compiled an invaluable tool—for expectant mothers, for mothers with young daughters, for mothers with daughters in the throes of teenhood, and (in my opinion) even mothers with older daughters who need a better understanding relationship with their mothers about the goings-on in their lives and the decisions they’ve had to make along the way. Written in an approachable, at times funny, manner, this text functions as a dialogue about societal theory, literature and film, and generating communities, at a time when we could not need them more.
LORI DAY speaks in schools, libraries, bookstores, and a variety of other community settings about mother-daughter book clubs, girl empowerment, media literacy, or any other topic of interest related to today’s girl culture and raising girls. To schedule Lori for a workshop, author talk, conference presentation, parent education event, or individual consultation, please contact her through her website for more information and fees. Lori loves to “visit” book clubs anywhere in the world via Skype free of charge, so if that’s of interest, let her know!
You can find Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, here.