Mother-Daughter Book Club provides a window onto the world of pre-teen girls

Hena and Erin take in a book at the Jewish Public Library

Since its inception over a decade ago, the Mother-Daughter book club at the Jewish Public Library has welcomed hundreds of mothers and their tween daughters from all corners of our community.


Approximate number of pages read annually by each participant.

Thanks to the intuitive moderation, and careful selection of reading materials by organizer Penny Fransblow, the program succeeds in establishing a deeper connection and understanding between mothers and their daughters, while fostering dialogue over crucial topics that tend to be side stepped during the early adolescent years. The result is a more open, communicative relationship, proving that there are many paths to knowledge, and that sometimes the written word itself has the power to connect the generations. Below are the first-person accounts of Hena and her daughter, Erin.

by Hena

I had wandered into the Jewish Public Library when a flyer advertising the Mother-Daughter Book Club caught my eye. My daughter, Erin, who was about to enter Grade 5, is a voracious reader and was keen to try the program.

Penny Fransblow, the Head of the Children’s Library, who runs the program, created a warm and safe atmosphere, where even girls like Erin, who tends to be shy by nature, felt comfortable. I was pleased to see Erin participate in the discussion and impressed by the intelligence, thoughtfulness and maturity displayed not only by my daughter, but also by all the girls in the group.

Aside from the wonderful opportunity to share a mutually enjoyable activity withErin– sometimes we read the books separately, other times we read chapters aloud to each other – the Mother-Daughter Book Club provided me with a window onto the world of today’s “tweens” – young women on the cusp of adolescence. The books we read varied considerably in tone and subject matter, but they all featured strong young women who faced challenges head-on, sometimes with humour, often with great heart and always with courage.

by Erin, 12 years old

When I started Mother-Daughter Book Club I knew no one there other than my mother and Penny, who I had just met a month before. I was a little shy. By the end of the program I knew everybody and I was friendly with them.

At the beginning of each session we would all form chairs in a circle and grab a cookie before we sat down. Then Penny would bring out her papers and ask us questions about the book, for example: “What did you think of so-and-so?” Or “When this and that happened, what were you thinking?” Sometimes I just didn’t have an answer and sometimes I couldn’t wait for it to be my turn. Sometimes I wanted to say the exact same thing as someone else and sometimes I would say something really original.

I really enjoyed the program and I wish I could do it again this year. Penny invited me to attend any of the sessions if I can come, which was very kind of her. Virals, a book we had read, became my favorite book and I’m sure I wouldn’t have tried it if it wasn’t on the reading list. I loved all the books and all the sessions and I hope Penny continues to do this great program.

To learn more or to join the program, visit the JPL website or call 514.345.2627, ext.3012 or 3398.

Last year, Federation CJA allocated over $700,000 to the Jewish Public Library, ensuring that programs like this one continue to thrive.

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