ARMCHAIR BOOK CLUB: Summer reading with the kids

Popular miniseries for pre-teens called The Mother Daughter Book Club translates into good summer reading for kids and adults.

Penticton book reviewer Heather Allen recommends the Mother-Daughter Book Club for good summer reading with your kids.

For me, summer is a time for two types of reading: breezing through lighter fare at the beach, and returning to classics.

My daughter is currently doing both, thanks to a popular miniseries for pre-teens called The Mother Daughter Book Club. Starting as a mother-imposed book club, four middle-school aged girls and their parents get together once a month to discuss the classic Little Women.

Unfortunately, Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy at the hockey rink, Emma has already read the classic, and Jess feels out-of-place at a mother daughter book club because her mom has moved to New York. But the parents insist. What begins uncomfortably soon evolves as the girls get to know each other better.

The story is filled with fast-paced middle school drama — including secret crushes, stolen journals and fashion fiascos. And, in the face of adversity — such as secretly trying out for the boys’ hockey team — the characters find themselves comparing their lives to those of the girls in Little Women.

The story is set in Concord, Mass., the real life home of Little Women’s author Louisa May Alcott. In fact, this historical town is a perfect backdrop as many other literary icons have also lived there including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau. The Mother Daughter Book Club’s frothy and fast-paced plot undoubtedly will appeal to preteens, but is also successful in piquing their interest in old classics. It can be difficult to get kids interested in older works of fiction. Since starting The Mother Daughter Book Club, my daughter has read Little Women and has more classics waiting on her bookshelf. The other five books in the miniseries feature both well-known and more obscure classics.

The second book in the series, Much Ado about Anne, features Anne of Green Gables; the third Dear Pen Pal features Daddy Long Legs; the fourth book Pies and Prejudice is centred around Pride and Prejudice; the fifth book Home for the Holidays is based on the Betsy-Tacy series; and the final book, Wish you were Eyre, features Jane Eyre.

In the words of my daughter: “The Mother Daughter books helped me appreciate those musty, dusty old classics much more!”

Heather Allen is an avid reader and book reviewer living in the Okanagan.