Melia Keeton-Digby’s new book, The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle, is not a traditional curriculum—and this is likely to be what you love most about this fantastic resource. Noting children’s innate desire for role models, the author became concerned by the dearth of women role models in her children’s history textbooks. The creation of the Heroines Club is her inspiring response.
Writing for mothers and their daughters, Keeton-Digby takes her readers on a year-long intellectual and spiritual journey examining the lives of extraordinary women athletes, inventors, artists, and revolutionaries. As they explore the groundbreaking accomplishments of twelve great women, girls and their mothers are exposed to the inspiring stories of individuals whose contribution are all too often neglected in traditional curriculum.
The Heroines Club is both an innovative history curriculum and a how-to guide for creating and nurturing a mother-daughter circle. In the context of this book, a circle is a well-established tradition of a group of individuals gathering to co-create community and share knowledge. Keeton-Digby demonstrates how this model of learning fortifies the mother-daughter relationship in profound ways, fostering empowerment and learning.
The uplifting words and work of such figures as Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank, Maya Angelou, and Jane Goodall are explored and used as a catalyst for animated discussion, meaningful ritual, and hands-on creative projects.
Keeton-Digby’s writes beautifully and her messages are hopeful and energizing. She provides pragmatic guidelines for cultivating and nurturing a mother-daughter circle. Tips for managing leadership roles, participant selection, circle size, frequency and duration of gatherings, and other key details are provided.
A sequence of circle events and recommended time allotments are outlined in the book.
- Opening meditation signifying the formal beginning of circle.
- Reading of commitments to serve as a reminder of group expectations.
- Check-ins to give each member an opportunity to speak to the group.
- Discussion prompts that generate meaningful dialogue and about the selected heroine’s life.
- Quote study in which powerful ideas and expressions of the selected heroine are examined and discussed.
- Integrated activities that are hands-on projects designed by the author to reinforce thematic concepts.
- Medicine meditation is time set aside to identify the strengths and gifts of the particular heroine. Members are also encouraged to identify how these traits are manifested in their own lives.
- Candlelight ritual and songs reinforce the belief that mothers and daughters share traits with these powerful women who came before them.
- Closing signifies the end of circle and acknowledgement of the special time that has passed.
Part two of The Heroines Club is a guide to implementing the twelve-month curriculum. Each chapter opens with a “Dear Mother Letter” in which the author introduces one key heroine and an accompanying affirmation to discuss in circle. For example, month one features Amelia Earhart and the affirmation “I believe in my dreams.” Here Keeton-Digby writes of the value of sharing particular messages with one’s daughters. Insightful questions for mothers to consider are sprinkled throughout these letters providing a lovely way for moms to connect with the material before going on to share it with daughters. Truly, this curriculum is as much a gift for mothers as it is for their daughters.
A brief biographical sketch of the featured heroine is followed by thoughtful discussion prompts for circle leaders to share. These questions start out citing details of the heroine’s life and then connect these to the lives of circle members. For example, in a lesson about Maya Angelou one prompt question is “Maya wrote seven autobiographies in her lifetime, the first of which she titled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Why do you think she chose that title? If you were to write a memoir of your life, what might be a fitting title?”
The spiritual nature of this book means that there are elements that will resonate strongly for some people and that others will find difficult. This is by no means a “religious” curriculum. Families of any faith or belief system will find messages they can relate to. It is primarily a text that celebrates the strength, courage and contributions of 12 spectacular women.
If the ritualistic and emotional nature of this book is not your thing, I believe that the curriculum section of the book alone would be worth the investment. One wishing to explore the lives of important women using more traditional methods can eliminate aspects such as the circle and ceremony and still be left with resource materials rich with substantive information and engaging stories.
Keeton-Digby writes with intelligence and eloquence. Her book is intended for mothers and daughter ages 7 and older and is appropriate for diverse family configurations including adopted and blended family members. It retails for $19.99.
One of the many joys of homeschooling is the chance to use out-of-the box, compelling resources that bring learning to life. Melia Keeton-Digby has not only provided our daughters with access to important historical information, but she has given mothers an opportunity to connect with their daughters in significant and beautiful ways.
Now, Melia, how about a book for mothers with sons!? I’ve got my fingers crossed.
REBECCA PICKENS is home/school/life’s Curriculum Junkie in the magazine and online. She writes for several publications and also blogs at www.steampoweredclassroom.com.