Working Writers Interview: Melissa Stoller
by Cherie, Working Writers
Many writers develop a love for words early in life with books they read as a child. A strong love of reading can definitely help parents bond with their children. That’s why I’m so excited to talk with Melissa Stoller today. Melissa took a love of books to a whole new level when she created the The Parent Child Book Club project. This is a great story about the love of words helping to unite people across generations. I know you’re going to enjoy Melissa’s story.
I love the idea of Parent-Child Book Club, The: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading. Please tell us how you came up with the idea.
Our book, “The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading,” is a comprehensive resource about organizing and conducting a family book club for children 4-9 years old. Our philosophy is that, in this fast-paced world, why not make meaningful connections with your family through a community of books.
My co-author and I started our first Parent-Child Book Club 9 years ago. We were in an adult book club, (which is still running!) and our oldest children, who were 4 at the time, asked if they could participate in a book club like we did. So we asked two other friends to join us and our book club was formed! We have been conducting this book club since, and have also added two other groups, one for our younger children, and one is a mother-daughter book club with my 10 year old and her school friends. In fact, I am planning to start a new group this fall with my youngest daughter and her pre-K friends.
We decided to write our book, “The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading” about 5 years ago. So many of our friends asked how they could model our concept and start family book clubs in their own homes. We decided that it made sense to write a book since we had so much information to share. Also, over these 9 years we have conducted so many of our own book clubs and we kept all the information for each club. We turned these into our “20 Book Club Model Guides.” These are our fully-tested, easy to use model guides that are really helpful to busy parents. Readers can simply choose one of the books we recommend, and have everything they need to get the book club started, including: challenging discussion questions and suggested answers; thematic art and science projects and related enrichment activities; and games, puzzles, field trips and snacks that complement the book.
Anything that promotes reading is a wonderful thing, in my opinion. What were some of your favorite books as a child?
I absolutely loved reading as a child, and I still do! Some of my favorite books were, “The Secret Garden,” “The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” and “The Little House on the Prairie Series.” Even as a child, I loved making connections to the books I was reading. I remember visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as a young girl and trying to recreate “The Mixed-Up Files” story. Now, all these years later, I am getting ready to post a New Book Club Model Guide on my website for “The Mixed-Up Files.” I had so much fun with my girls recently as we wandered around the museum searching for clues in the story, and I was thrilled that they were so engaged by that book and the activities I suggested.
What are some of the books your children love to read?
I have three girls, ages 13, 10 and 4. They all love to read, and we spend so much time in our local library and bookstore. Some of their favorite books are: The Pendragon Series, The Twilight Series, The Harry Potter Series, The Shadow Children Series, “City of Ember,” “The Giver,” “Julia Gillian,” “Tuck Everlasting,” “Ella Enchanted,” The Magic Tree House Series, The Magic School Bus Series, “Pinkalicious” and “Purplicous,” and anything about princesses and fairies! I am so thankful that their love of reading inspired me to embark on this family book club adventure.
Do you feel a love of reading helps inspire some people to become writers? When did you first realize you wanted to write?
For me, a love of reading definitely inspired me to explore and write about children’s books and organizing a family book club. I am a lawyer by training, and I realized that my favorite part of lawyering was researching and writing. I also worked as a writing instructor in two law schools, and worked as a researcher and editor on several books. After my oldest daughter was born 13 years ago, I started writing about family-related issues for local newsmagazines. I truly enjoy researching topics and sharing my knowledge and insights. Writing about children’s books is a natural for me as I have always been passionate about reading as a hobby. In our home, we really try to encourage a love of reading and writing, and we have many happy memories revolving around connecting through books.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
So far, I have not had writer’s block. I usually work when my girls are in school (my youngest is in preschool for a few hours a day) or asleep, so I don’t have time for writer’s block! Also, if I ever get stuck on a topic, I ask my girls for suggestions and advice and they are so helpful!
Book you’re currently reading.
I read several excellent books this year for my book clubs: “Those Who Save Us,” “Three Cups of Tea,” and “The Space Between Us” really stand out. Currently I am reading “Street of A Thousand Blossoms” as well as some fun summer beach books!
Where can we learn more about you?
You can learn more about me at my website, www.parentchildbookclub.com. Also become a fan on Facebook (search parent child book club) and follow us on Twitter . Also, we provide further information on YouTube (search parent-child book club).
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much! I am happy to continue the conversation about connecting with your kids through children’s books.