6 Tips for Starting Your Own Father-Daughter Book Club

My daughter and I are reading the same book. It happened completely by accident. She had a book. She left it lying on the kitchen counter. I spilled grape juice on it. While I was cleaning it up, I happened to read a few lines of the book and suddenly I was hooked. I must have stood at the counter, sponge in one hand, book in the other for 20 minutes before my daughter came in looking for her book and made me give it up.

 

Bad news: The book was a library book and it now was definitely tinted purple on a bunch of pages.

 

More bad news: My daughter cried when she saw the state of the book.

 

Good news: The damage meant that I had to buy the book from the library which meant that I could finish reading it.

 

My daughter and I both continued reading the book and as we did we would discuss what was going on. It was pretty interesting to get her take on things and I discovered that what she thought was the most exciting or most important parts of the book were not the same as what I considered the best parts. When we were both done with the book, I was disappointed. I wanted that same connection to keep going. Luckily, the book was the first in a series, and a few days later, my daughter brought home book 2. And that is where our unofficial but very satisfying ongoing father-daughter book club began.

 

Start Your Own Father-Daughter Book Club

 

Want to get your own Father-Daughter (or Father-Son, for that matter) Book Club going? Here are few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that might help make it easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

 

  • Let her pick the book. Trust me on this. You may have a favorite book that you remember from when you were a kid, but if you suggest it, your child will not want to read it and if by some chance they do (or pretend to) they will tell you how much they hate it, totally ruining the experience for you. Yep, I’ve been there. Resist the urge to pick the book, it’s just not worth it.
  • Provide snacks. Sitting down with your child across an empty (or mostly empty table) is OK, but add some chips and salsa and it’s an invitation to dig deep into the story and spend quality time together.
  • Invite friends. If your other kids want to join or your daughter has friends who want to be part of the discussion, let them. As long as they’ve read the book and have something to contribute, your conversation will be so much more interesting with multiple points of view.
  • Go there. Don’t be afraid to broach difficult topics. Books for kids often touch on controversial themes (which is why so many of them get banned!) but if your daughter isn’t going to discuss death or prejudice or boys with you, who is she going to talk about these things with?
  • Give your honest opinion. If you didn’t like the book, say so. If you did like it, say that too. And back it up with reasons why. Expect your daughter to do the same. It’s incredibly important for your daughter to understand that she is entitled to her own opinion and that her opinion is valid even if it differs from yours.
  • Discuss, don’t quiz. A lot of books come with book club type questions in the back these days. Ignore those. I’ve found it so much more rewarding to have a conversation with my daughter about the book rather than quizzing her about what she read like they do at school. In fact, I think the reason we both enjoy our book club time together is that it doesn’t feel like school. It feels like hanging out with someone you really like who also read the same book you did.

 

Don’t feel like you have enough time to read an entire book? Or perhaps your child isn’t quite ready to take on an entire novel? Why not try a short story instead? A well-written short story, like those found in CRICKET Magazine, contains all of the same elements of a good novel, including interesting characters, well-developed plots, and universal themes that will make for a great discussion. But with word counts much shorter than a traditional novel, you’ll both be able to get to the part where you learn more about your child much faster.

 

By the way, that first book my daughter and I read together was called City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. I highly recommend it for all kids ages 9 and up (and their dads). If you see your child with this book, pick it up yourself and try it. Just watch out if you have a glass of grape juice in your hands.

Check it Moms, the Class DAD is here

I admit it. I didn’t step up to the plate at first. My son’s class needed a “class mom” (hey, that’s how they phrased it in the email) and even though I’ve spent countless hours complaining to my wife that dads are treated as second-class citizens in the school, I still didn’t take the leap and put my name on the list.

 

Then the next week the second email hit my inbox. The person who wrote it begged asked the moms in the class to step up to help with parties, activities, and classroom communication. “That’s all it is?” I thought. I can do that. I quickly responded to the email and heard back that there was a planning meeting for class moms the next week.

 

The minute I walked into the meeting, the looks and the questions began. No, I’m not here for my wife. Yes, I know this is the meeting for the class mom…or should I say class parent. Yes, I understand what the job of the class parent is. No, I’m not a stay-at-home dad. I just make time to be a part of my son’s life, just like every other parent here. Yes, I am getting annoyed. (No one actually asked that last question luckily.)

 

I probably sound like a broken record, but why is it that only moms are thought to take time off from work to do all the things that the schools need parents to step up for? I know plenty of dads who are willing and able to help. Frankly, “class mom” doesn’t sound like such a big job. I think I can handle it. News flash: I can also change diapers, make mac-n-cheese like a pro, and read stories to my kids every night. I bet you can too.

 

But baby steps, people. Baby steps. Starting with class dad, I plan to take on the establishment and rise to a position of power. This year, class dad, next year, maybe PTA officer, and by the time my son graduates, I’ll be PTA Prez. Hey, it could happen. (My wife says no one actually wants to be PTA President but I’m not going to let that stop me.)

 

valcard10-baby1114cmAnd for now, this class dad is going to throw the best Valentine’s Day party the 1st grade has ever seen. Yes, I can use Pinterest to make “adorable” Valentine’s Day treats, and yes, I can print out these “super cute” Valentine’s Day cards from Cricket Media to put in every kid’s goody bag, and yes, I can step up and make class dad the hottest volunteer position ever. So check it moms. The class dad is here.

 

Show Bedtime Who’s Boss

By Cricket Media Dad

 

You know that meme “What I think X will be like” vs. “What X is actually like”? If it were applied to bedtime in my house, it would look like this:

 

What I think bedtime will be like:

 

Show Bedtime Who’s Boss

 

What bedtime is actually like:

 

Show Bedtime Who’s Boss

 

You’ve been there, right? Your kid(s) are melting down about everything from how their toothpaste tastes to what color their pajamas are to which stuffed animal they are going to hug that night. And your wife is just done for the day. She’s looking at you like, just get the job done so we can relax!

 

The good news is I’ve discovered a tried and true method for becoming the boss of bedtime. The trick is in the bedtime stories I choose. I’ve tried long stories and short stories, fiction and nonfiction, and I’ve discovered that high-quality stories with beautiful illustrations are the best chance for getting my kids to dreamland and me back in front of the television with my feet up and a big bowl of popcorn.

 

Luckily for me, my kids have a subscription to the award-winning magazine LADYBUG. Finding LADYBUG in my mailbox each month is a lifesaver. My kids love seeing something for them mixed in with the bills and letters for mommy and daddy and they get all excited about bedtime that night. Plus, the stories and articles are relatively short so each kid can choose one or more, avoiding the fighting of whose turn it is to pick this time. The illustrations are beautiful and the quality is unbeatable. It’s the perfect mix to appeal to my boisterous little one and my artsy big girl.

 

Snuggling up with my favorite little people and enjoying imaginative stories, funny poems, jokes and riddles that will have everyone giggling, and non-fiction articles that answer the exact types of questions my kids have been asking (and I been making up answer to) really does make me feel like I’ve won at parenting. And thanks to Cricket Media’s large stable of magazines, when my kids have outgrown LADYBUG, there will always be another perfect choice for us to switch to.

 

Ahhh, I love the sound of sleeping children. Thanks LADYBUG. It’s good to be the boss of bedtime.

 

Editor’s Note: To make this story your reality, be sure to subscribe to LADYBUG or one of Cricket Media’s other award-winning magazines. It’s a tiny investment in your family’s health and happiness.