100 Books for Girls to Grow On

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9780060957186: 100 Books for Girls to Grow On

An Inspiring Approach to Reading

From A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to Ramona the Pest to Wringer, here are 100 great books guaranteed to stir the imagination, spark conversation, and lead the way to adventure.

In 100 Books for Girls to Grow On, Shireen Dodson, author of the acclaimed The Mother-Daughter Book Club, offers a selection of both new and classic titles. Each book has been handpicked because it is a joy to read, because it inspires mother-daughter dialogue, and because it encourages creativity beyond the book experience.

Included are brief plot summaries for each book, as well as thought-provoking discussion questions, inspired field trip ideas, fun crafts and activities, and biographies of the authors.

Let books become a springboard for encouraging your daughter's imagination. Ideas inside include:

  • Design and draw colorful dresses like Wanda Petronski, heroine of Eleanore Estes' The Hundred Dresses.

  • Take your cue from Harriet the Spy and create your own stories from overheard snippets of conversation.

  • While reading Caddie Woodlawn, pull out a map and trace Caddie's mother's journey from Boston to the Wisconsin frontier.

You don't need to form a book club to use and enjoy 100 Books for Girls to Grow On. Shireen Dodson offers stimulating ideas that will spark your daughter's creativity and nurture a love for books.

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About the Author:

Shireen Dodson is Special Assistant to the Director, Office of Civil Rights attaché U.S. Department of State. Her second book, One Hundred Books for Girls to Grow On, offers a selection of both new and classic titles, and it serves as a companion to The Mother-Daughter Book Club. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is the mother of three children.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Alan and Naomi
by Myron Levoy

The specter of the Nazi Holocaust shadows the lives of two 12-year-olds living in New York City in 1944. Alan just wants life to be ordinary, yet his existence is changed forever when a young, Jewish French girl, traumatized by the war and the loss of her father, comes to live in his apartment building, and he reluctantly befriends her. This book is powerful, not only because it deals with the Holocaust, but because it portrays children learning to take responsibility for their own actions and facing the hard truth that things don't always work out.
reading time: 2-3 hours, about 192 pages
themes: prejudice, anti-Semitism, friendship, trust, betrayal,
loss, guilt

Discussion Questions
* When Alan first sees Naomi, she reminds him of a lost puppy. Why does she strike him that way?
* When Alan is reluctant to be friendly to Naomi, his father tells him "In our life, sometimes when we're young, sometimes when we're old, in our life, once or twice, we're called upon to do something we can't do, that we don't want to do, that we won't do. But we do it." What does he mean? Can you think of any situations in your life when you were called upon to do something like that?
* Why do you think Naomi can communicate with Alan's ventriloquist dummy, and through her doll, but not with people?
* Naomi blames herself for her father's death at the hands of the Nazi Gestapo agents. How does that affect how she sees the world and herself?
* What does it mean to be a mensch to Alan's father? To Alan? What qualities or attributes do you think define a mensch?
* Alan is ashamed to be seen with Naomi when his friend Shaun is around. Why? How does that make him feel afterwards? Have you ever done that to a friend? How did you feel?
* How does being Naomi's friend change Alan? Why does it affect him that way?
* Why is it important that Alan acknowledges Naomi during one of his stickball games with his friends?
* How do Shaun and Alan misunderstand each other? What consequences does it have for their friendship?
* Why does Alan's fight with Joe Condello cause Naomi to run away? Despite Alan's best efforts, why can't Naomi recover from her war experiences? What do you think will ultimately happen to Naomi?
* Alan says that the Nazis got Naomi as surely as if they had thrown her onto a truck and taken her to a concentration camp. What does he mean? Do you think that's true?

about the author: Myron Levoy was born in New York City, and many of his stories portray the immigrant experience in the early part of this century. His books often depict characters who overcome adversity and whose struggles allow them to grow and become stronger. Alan and Naomi has been published in German and Dutch and in 1992 was made into a film.
Beyond the Book...
map: Look up Nazi resistance in an encylopedia or on the Web. Draw a map of Europe showing where the concentration camps were located, and where the Germans occupied different countries and regions. Read about the Warsaw Ghetto and its uprising.
holocaust museum: If you are from New York or Washington, DC, visit the Holocaust museum near you. If not, write to one and request information about the Holocaust and the exhibits they display. Because I live in Washington, I've had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust museum and found it tremendously moving. The curators have made an effort to personalize the Holocaust experience for patrons of the museum, making it much more real and intimate for people who don't have the Holocaust in their own histories.
music: Naomi responds to music and songs. Go to the library and find a songbook of World War II-era songs, or find a CD of popular tunes from that period, and play some of the songs.
movie: Naomi enjoys a Marx Brothers movie; the physical comedy and slapstick humor transcend any language barrier. Rent one or two of the Marx Brothers' movies to watch together.
refreshments or food mentioned in the book: Serve chocolate bars and cherry soda during your discussion. Or make Alan's father's specialty, eggs scrambled with chopped mushrooms and onions. If you prefer, you can make a "miniature feast" like the one Alan and Naomi have on their picnic, with tiny triple-decker sandwiches with tomatoes and olives, little cakes with lemon, strawberry, and chocolate icing, and small bottles of milk.

If you liked this book, try...
Snow in August, by Pete Hamill--For older readers, it deals with similar themes of how someone survives the Holocaust and adapts to American anti-Semitism.
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank--The diary of a young girl's life in hiding during the war, under Nazi occupation.
The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson--The story of Anne Sullivan's teaching of Helen Keller offers insight into how a dedicated and persistent individual can reach someone who, like Naomi, is locked into a world of her own--but for very different reasons.

Some Other Books by Myron Levoy:
The Witch of Fourth Street and Other Stories
The Hanukkah of Great-Uncle Otto

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