Lexington Middle School Librarian Introduces Mother Daughter Book Club  

January 31, 2012

It started as an idea after Lexington Middle School Librarian and Media Specialist Bev Gustafson ran across Kate Messner's blog.  The culmination of which was a Skype session Thursday, January 26, 2012 with Messner.

Sprouting from the seeds of Gustafson's idea is the Mother Daughter Book Club at LMS. On Dec. 19, 2011 the club held its first meeting and started reading Messner's book "The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z." "I ran across [Messner's] blog one night and she recommended this book as a great book for a mother daughter book club," Gustafson said. "I read the book and loved it. It's a great book to read with middle school girls and their moms."

The book follows Gianna as she must complete a project in school all while making sure another character in the book does not stab her in the back and take her spot in the cross country sectional meet. More pressing matters take place, however, as Gianna must deal with her grandmother who has Alzheimer's disease and her best friend starts to see her in a different light.

For the members of the LMS book club, Gustafson believes it has brought each member of the club closer to their family. It is something mother, Maria Corado and her daughter, Monica, a sixth grader at LMS, echoed.

"I just wanted to something with my daughter to get closer to her," Maria said. "It has really opened a line of communication up between us." "I just know that if I have a hard time with school or anything, I can still talk to her," Monica said of her mother. Maria said the book club has been a good experience for her and Monica because they are able to bond over the story in Messner's book. It's given the opportunity to discuss more than just the book also. "Every day I tell her I love her and that I'm here for her," Maria said. "I think that is something that every daughter needs to here at her age because so much is going on in her life right now."

Thursday night's Skype session with Messner brought an end to the book, which all 30 members said they thoroughly enjoyed, as each of the mothers and daughters had the opportunity to ask Messner about her book.

Messner has been a published author since 2007. She has written seven books with more on the way and just recently made the switch from middle school teacher to full-time writer. The upstate New York based writer said picking her favorite book is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child, when one of the students asked her what her favorite book she had written was. Messner then described her writing process and answered how she comes up with her characters in her books.

"Some of the characters are inspired by the students I used to teach," she said, "but more often than not I borrow bits and pieces from lots of people to make up one character.

"My kids accuse me of stealing their life stories," she said laughing. "Now I have to ask their permission if I want to use something from them for a character."

Gustafson said Messner's book is going to be one of the 35 featured books at this year's reading banquet at the LMS gym. The banquet starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20. The theme is "Peace Out and Read: Bookstock 2012." However, the premise remains the same for the club - bring mothers and daughter together through the world of books, and she hopes to have more book club sessions in the future.

"Some of the moms were commenting what a treat this was," Gustafson said. "Many of the moms are avid readers and not very often do they have the opportunity to read the same book as their daughters and discuss it.