My daughter and I are reading the same book. It happened totally by accident. She left a book lying on the kitchen counter. I spilled grape juice on it. While I was cleaning it up, I happened to read a few sentences of the book and suddenly I was hooked. I must have stood at the counter, sponge in one hand, book in the other for half an hour before my daughter came in looking for her book and made me give it back.
Bad news: The book was a library book and it now was tinted purple on several pages.
More bad news: My daughter cried when she saw the stains on the book.
Good news: The damage meant that I had to buy the book from the library, which meant that I could finish it.
My daughter and I both continued reading the book and as we did, we would discuss the story. It was pretty interesting to get her take on things and I found that the parts that she and I each felt were the most important or exciting were not the same. When we both finished reading, I was disappointed. I wanted that same connection to continue. Fortunately, the book was the first in a series, and a few days later, my daughter checked out book 2. And that is where our unofficial but very rewarding 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 some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that might help make it simpler and more fun for everyone involved.
- Let her select the book. Trust me on this. You may have a favorite book that you remember from your childhood, 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 choose the book, it’s just not worth it.
- Provide food. Sitting down with your daughter across an empty table is OK, but add some chips and salsa or veggies and hummus 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’s friends are interested in tagging along, let them. As long as they’ve read the book and have something to share, your conversation will be so much more interesting with multiple perspectives and opinions.
- Go there. Don’t be afraid to bring up difficult topics. Books for kids often touch on controversial themes (which is why so many children’s books get banned!) but if your daughter can’t discuss death or prejudice or boys with you, who is she going to talk to about these thorny topics?
- Give your honest opinion. If you didn’t enjoy the book, say so. If you did like it, say that too. And back it up with reasons why. Encourage your daughter to do the same. It’s of the utmost importance for your daughter to understand that she is entitled to her own opinion and that her views are valid even if it differs from yours.
- Discuss, don’t quiz. A lot of books come with classroom-type questions in the back these days. Ignore those. I’ve found it so much more satisfying to have a free-form conversation with my daughter rather than quizzing her about what she read like they do at school. In fact, I think the reason we both enjoy our time reading together is that it doesn’t feel like school. It feels like hanging out with someone you care about who also read the same book.
Don’t feel like you have enough time to read a whole book? Or perhaps your child isn’t quite ready to take on an entire novel? Why not try a short story? A well-written story, like those found in CRICKET Magazine, contains all of the same elements as a great novel, including interesting characters, well-developed plots, and universal themes that will foster a great discussion. But with word counts much shorter than a typical novel, you’ll both be able to get to the part where you learn more about your child much faster. Just watch out if you have a glass of grape juice in your hands!