“It takes a village to raise a child.”
Children aren’t just carbon copies of their primary caretakers. They are complex amalgamations of their own experiences, interests, and subsequent beliefs. While, as loving grown ups, we would ideally like to be in total control of the kind of person our child grows up to be – it’s not a realistic wish. So how can we have some influence on the formation of our future adults? Well, we would have to contribute to designing the villages in which our children grow. We need to provide alternative villages that aren’t overpopulated with narrow, superficial and one dimensional versions of what being a woman is all about. At TowardTheStars, we are trying to build a virtual village to raise confident girls, and we are honored to have the opportunity.
There are, of course, other ways to build villages.
Lori Day is a Mother-Daughter Book Club fanatic. These clubs could be understood as micro-villages that have the potential to build meaningful connections between mothers and daughters, as well as their wider community. Books provide a tool to not only develop their ability to appreciate and criticize literature, but as a channel toward exploring and discussing more personal real-life problems that they have faced, or may face one day.
Quoting Lori’s daughter (written when she was in the eighth grade):
“The discussions we engage in during the meetings often begin as conversations about problems in the text that the protagonist encounters and overcomes, and inevitably shift seamlessly to conversations about similar problems we have experienced and dealt with while growing up.”
When Lori started to take notice of the books her daughter was reading, she noticed that the vast majority did not feature female protagonists. After doing some research and talking with teachers and librarians, she understood why this was the case. Girls, it seems, are happy to read and watch stories about boys, whereas the latter isn’t so true. Producers of media for children were making more money by producing books and films about boys that could attract children of both genders. So Lori took it upon herself to make sure that her daughter, and the daughters of her close friends, were getting exposure to inspiring female literary role models, and that was how her book club was first formed.
Having come from a similar place of dissatisfaction with the kinds of messages and role models that are available to girls, TowardTheStars is delighted to have Lori Day on our panel of experts. She has launched a group on our community page where you can go to find out more information or ask questions about her Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Click here to go to the group.
We’re so excited about having Lori Day on board with us, we have skipped ahead and selected our ten favorite books from the list that she has recommended to us:
1. Saving Sky
The country is at war, terrorists strike at random, widespread rationing is in effect, and the power grid is down. But thirteen-year-old Sky Brightman is remarkably untouched by it all. She lives off the grid on sixty acres of rural New Mexico ranch land with chores to do and horses to ride and no television or internet to bring disturbing news into her family’s adobe house. Sky’s schoolmates think she’s a little weird. Then a string of mysterious arrests begins, and her new friend, Kareem, becomes a target. Sky is finally forced to confront the world in all its complexity. Summoning her considerable courage and ingenuity, she takes a stand against injustice. With humor, hope, and fierce determination, she proves that even a child can change the world. Ages 11+
If an entire nation could seek it’s freedom, why not a girl? As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.
3. Fly Girl
As twelve-year-old Marlee starts middle school in 1958 Little Rock, it feels like her whole world is falling apart. Until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is everything Marlee wishes she could be: she’s brave, brash and always knows the right thing to say. But when Liz leaves school without even a good-bye, the rumor is that Liz was caught passing for white. Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. She just wants her friend back. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are even willing to take on segregation and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families. Ages 11+
5. Dairy Queen
When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right. When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. Ages 13+
For all the ten years of her life, Ha has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by, and the beauty of her very own papaya tree. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Ha and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. This is the moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next. Ages 11+
They were just a soft, ordinary pair of thrift-shop jeans until the four girls took turns trying them on–four girls, that is, who are close friends, about to be parted for the summer, with very different sizes and builds, not to mention backgrounds and personalities. Yet the pants settle on each girl’s hips perfectly. “These are magical Pants!” they realize, and so they make a pact to share them equally, to mail them back and forth over the summer from wherever they are. Over the summer the Pants come to represent the support of the sisterhood, but they also lead each girl into bruising and ultimately healing confrontations with love and courage, dying and forgiveness. Like the Pants, the reader bounces back and forth among the four unfolding adventures, and the melange is spiced with letters and witty quotes. Ages 12+
When Frederick shows up at school, Xio is thrilled. The new boy is shy, cute, and definitely good boyfriend material. Before long, she pulls him into her lively circle of friends. Frederick knows he should be flattered by Xio’s attention. After all, she’s popular, pretty, and a lot of fun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Victor, the captain of the soccer team, instead? Ages 12+
Twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of one thing—she’s great at making pies—and sheplans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition.But a backlash against Vermont’s civil union law threatens her family’s securityand their business. Even when faced with bullying, June won’t give up on winning theblue ribbon; more importantly, she won’t give up on her family. Twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of one thing—she’s great at making pies—and sheplans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition.But a backlash against Vermont’s civil union law threatens her family’s securityand their business. Even when faced with bullying, June won’t give up on winning theblue ribbon; more importantly, she won’t give up on her family. Ages 10+
Principal Puddle Splasher @ TowardTheStars
While currently working on the optimization-of-overall-awesomeness at TowardTheStars, Ceda otherwise spends her time teaching Sexuality Education to young people. She has recently graduated from the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and has a keen interest in the intersection between doing business and doing good. She has degrees in genetics and philosophy, and moonlights on the weekends running her own one-lady show entertaining children.