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Mother and Daughter
Members of the Mother-Daughter Book Club gather once a month to discuss books they've been reading

Mother-daughter book club a novel approach to communication

February 4, 1998
Web posted at: 6:28 p.m. EST (2328 GMT)

From CNN Parenting Today Correspondent Pat Etheridge

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- They arrive, dressed in hats and gloves, promptly at three for Sunday afternoon tea. But the purpose of this gathering is more than social. The women who have come to this tea -- and the young girls they've brought along -- are members of the Mother-Daughter Book Club.

"Mothers and daughters read the same book once a month," said founder Shireen Dodson. "We get together in each other's homes, and while we are talking about the book, we also end up talking about life issues."

The book club is Dodson's brainchild -- her original intent was to strengthen the bond with her own daughter.

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"I was like, 'this would be great for Morgan and I,'" she said. "Morgan likes to read so much she still gets in trouble at night reading in bed with a flashlight."

It's obviously working.

"Sometimes you can just watch them develop right before your eyes in some of the discussions," Dodson said.

This month's selection was "The View From Saturday" by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum, 1996), the story of four sixth graders and their intertwining adventures. Dodson said she really liked the issues the book brought up -- and, she said, "the moms are just as enthused about some of the books as the daughters."

The discussions covered character development, the book's pace, writing style and personal impressions. And the book club meetings aren't stuffy affairs -- this month's meeting was based on "The View from Saturday's" fictional tea party.

"These girls, at this point in their lives, still want to be little girls," said Dodson. "Then there's this other side of them that's trying to be a young adult, think they're grown, think they know as much as we do."

Mother and Daughter
Morgan and Shireen Dodson now enjoy browsing the bookshelves together

The discussions, Dodson said, are "not mothers and daughters as much as it is girls and women. Their opinion is being valued, and it's appealing to that part of them that's growing up."

The mothers have discovered there's plenty in it for them too.

"I think we're all now really friends, getting together, sharing things about our daughters, about ourselves, about our relationships with our spouses," Dodson said. "It's a wonderful talk group just for us."

Shireen and Morgan have become closer. They now enjoy browsing the bookshelves together, choosing new tomes to bring before the group. And Shireen has a book to call her own: "The Mother-Daughter Book Club" (HarperCollins, 1997). The book offers guidelines for other groups -- several have sprung up across the country.

"It's very gratifying," Dodson said. "I had no idea it would be something that would sweep the country."

Together mothers and daughters share a love of reading, and a novel approach to bridging the generation gap.


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