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Dads Feel Changed by Their Daughters

This Father’s Day, I hope we remember that there have been generations of silence between men about what it means to be a father. Many men haven’t even heard our own dads talk about it.

At my fathering workshops the most moving moment is when I ask: “How many of you feel like you’ve been changed as a man by having a daughter? Stand up if you can tell me one or two or three things that are different for you.”

Everyone in the room stands.

Then I ask, “Stand up if your father ever spoke to you about how he was changed as a man by you being his child.”

Many times no one stands, and rarely more than 3 men stand. That’s a very emotional moment.

Most men of my generation (baby boomer) and older never heard anything on the subject from our own fathers. That’s deeply sad.

However, it’s also an opportunity to break that cycle of silence and talk to other dads (including our own) about it.

Fathers of daughters say they find it especially helpful to talk with other dads of daughters about raising a girl.

In the years before and since I wrote the best-selling Dads & Daughters®: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter, I’ve talked and/or corresponded in-depth with thousands of fathers.

Women are always startled to learn that about half of these men (most of whom I never met before) report that I am the first person they’d ever talked to in depth about fatherhood. Men aren’t surprised, because we’re so accustomed to father silence.

The good news? With only a handful of exceptions, the fathers I communicate with are articulate and passionate; we have a lot to say about the experience and importance of being stepdads and dad.

And while much of that may have gone unspoken until the moment of our conversations, those men and I quickly learned there’s real power in asking: “How are you changed as a person because you are a Dad of a Daughter?”

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Lacey Recommends Summer Reading Books

Summer — it’s finally here! And whether you are out of school for the year or still eyeing the finish line, we’ve got you covered for some great summer reading. Bring some of these books on your summer adventures, or enjoy them on a lazy afternoon on your front porch, lounged out on your couch, on the beach, or anyplace else the warm weather takes you!

Fiction – Stories That Take Place in Summer

  • 12-year-old Lucy has always been close to her dad, so she’s thrilled when she learns he’s coming home early from the Vietnam War … until she realizes that his missing arm isn’t the only thing about him that has changed. To give her dad some space, her family sends her to spend the summer with her uncle, which only reminds her that she doesn’t fit in with her dad’s superstitious family. Then she befriends Milo, whose dad is still in Vietnam, and they work together to unravel the mystery of the purple heart and soldier’s helmet they found in Lucy’s back yard. Read Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer to see whether Lucy finds the answer to her biggest question — whether her dad will ever be the same again.
  • For another take on the Vietnam War, check out She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah by Ann Hood, which takes place in the summer of 1966. Trudy’s once-popular Beatles fan club has dwindled to just three members, and she struggles to find common ground with her best friend who has become a cheerleader. She’s sure that meeting Beatles member Paul McCartney, her true love, will turn things around, and she plans an unforgettable journey with the remaining members of her fan club.
  • 14-year-old Florence and 11-year-old Russell think they’re lucky — they’re both on the SS Athenia on their way back to the U.S. after spending their summer vacations in Europe. But then a German torpedo hits the ship, and the kids must take lifeboats to find other vessels if they have any hope of survival. Torpedoed! A World War II Story of a Sinking Passenger Ship and Two Children’s Survival at Sea by Cheryl Mullenbach is based on the real-life survival of the children aboard the SS Athenia the day that Britian declared war on Germany.
  • In The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristin Levine, 12-year-old Claudia just thinks her dad is having a late night at work … until he doesn’t come home at all. Just before she receives a mysterious envelope containing a jigsaw puzzle piece in the mail, her dad tells her he’s gone away to “think things over.” She spends her summer piecing together a scrapbook in an attempt to understand what’s happening to her family in this story based on the author’s real-life experiences.
  • If you’ve ever spent the summer with the Penderwick sisters — Skye, Jane, Rosalind, and Batty — then get ready to return to Arundel for the summer, this time with the youngest sister, Lydia, in the lead. She has grown up hearing about the adventures at the Arundel mansion, and now she gets to spend the summer there for her sister Rosalind’s wedding. Soon, she’s exploring spooky hallways and sheep-filled fields, with adventure around every corner. The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall is the last book in the Penderwicks series. To start from the beginning, track down the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.
  • Are you going to summer camp this year? Whether you’re heading outdoors or sticking close to home, you can enjoy summer camp adventures with Wendy L. Brandes’ series following friends Claire, MJ, Nina, and Emily as they survive fights with friends, getting in trouble with camp counselors, mishaps while rafting, and more! Books in the series include Emily’s Pranking Problem, Claire’s Cursed Camping Trip, Nina’s NOT Boy Crazy! (She Just Likes Boys), and MJ’s Camp Crisis.

Non-Fiction – Things to DO and Learn This Summer

  • Summer reading is great … but sometimes you want to get out and DO something in the summer air! How about crouching in the grass or nuzzling up to a tree leaf to examine some of the creepy crawlies that come out at this time of year? But before you go bug-hunting, make sure to brush up on your bug facts with Wicked Bugs: The Meanest Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart, where you can read about centipedes a whole foot long or beetles that can fire stinging liquid at 1,000 shots per second. Fascinating, gross, creepy, or all of the above? Read the book and decide for yourself!
  • Will you be heading out to the wilderness for camping or hiking this summer? If so, make sure to tuck a copy of A Pocket Guide to Wilderness Safety Skills in your backpack. It’s chock full of information that can help you out in a pinch, like how to build an emergency shelter, how to read a compass and map, and how to cook and store food outdoors. And it’s all encased in zippered, waterproof plastic, so that it will stay safe in any condition!
  • If rainy days have you cooped up inside, grab a copy of Rainy Day Unicorn Fun by Dana Simpson, a Phoebe and Her Unicorn Activity Book. The 140 puzzles inside, which include mazes, word games, dot-to-dots, and more, are sure to keep you busy till the sun is shining again!
  • If you’re looking for more to do with the extra time that you have off of school, check out The Big Book of 100 Little Activities by Laura Minter and Tia Williams, where you can learn to make a track for toy cars out of masking tape, cornflour “goop,” homemade chalk (your summe sidewalk will look AWESOME!), and more, all with supplies that are easy to find. With this book at your side, you may not find yourself uttering, “I’m bored!” all summer long!

What about you? Do you have favorite reads that take place in summer, or books that help you fill the summer days? Have you read any of the books listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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Lacey Recommends Books with Girls Being Beautiful as Themselves

Hey, girls! Every May, we celebrate what makes girls truly beautiful — not what they look like or what they wear, but who they are on the inside. So this month, I’m featuring books about beautiful girls — all sorts of girls who are beautiful for their personalities, their dreams, and most of all, for being themselves! I’ll also be sharing a few books that can help you find new ways to let your own inner beauty shine.

Fiction – Stories About Beautiful Girls

  • Sometimes being true to yourself involves taking some big risks. In “Amal Unbound” by Aisha Saeed, Amal is forced to become a servant when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family. At first she thinks she will have to put aside her dreams of becoming a teacher … but the longer she works for the Khan family, the more she realizes there are even bigger issues at stake — like the cruel ways in which the Khan family weilds its power. She knows that she needs to learn to work with others — including those who resent her for being a “favorite” at the estate — if anything is ever going to change. Author Aisha Saeed says about the book, “There are brave girls all over the world. They may feel afraid sometimes, like Amal. But doing the right thing despite the risks it may involve is the bravest thing there can be. It is my hope that this story shines a light on brave girls everywhere.”
  • In “Length of a String” by Elissa Brent Weissman, you’ll meet not one but two beautiful girls. Imani has always wondered where she came from, because she is Black and almost everyone she knows is White. But when her great-grandmother dies, she finds her diary about fleeing the Nazis in World War II and moving in with an adoptive family in New York. Knowing she is not the only member of her family who has been adopted helps Imani, but she still wants to know more about her biological family. As her Bat mitzvah approaches, can she find a way to make peace with the missing pieces?
  • Ten-year-old Katy is told that only boys can join when she tries out for the 1958 Little League baseball team. But why should she take no for an answer, when everyone knows she’s the best pitcher around? Instead, she takes lessons from the Civil Rights Movement and follows the example of the great female baseball greats who have gone before her as she pursues her sports dreams in “Out of Left Field” by Ellen Klages.
  • Annie Brown is used to coming in “second best” in comparisons with her best friend, Savannah, who is the most-valued player on the track team, gets straight As, and won the school spirit award. But when Annie gets the opportunity to audition for a kids’ web show, she’s sure she is the perfect fit. After all, she has been writing “As-Seen-on-TV” type commercials for her own inventions for years. In “Annie B., Made for TV” by Amy Dixon, can Annie keep her friendship with Savannah alive even when it looks like Savannah might get the leading role that is perfect for Annie?
  • Judy Moody isn’t afraid to be herself, even when herself is always changing, and that’s what gives her inner beauty! In her first book, “Judy Moody Was in a Mood,” she gets to explore what makes her unique through her teacher’s “About Me” collage project. She pursues fame in book 2 (“Judy Moody Gets Famous“) and sets out to save the world in book 3, “Judy Moody Saves the World.” And if you can’t get enough of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series, more books will be out soon, including “Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party.” Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the series, these books can help you remember there’s beauty in being moody!

Non-fiction

  • Often, it is our friends’ inner beauty that draws us to them — and the people who see OUR inner beauty that are true BFF material. If you and your bestie want a way to always remember the special friendship you share, check out “All About Us: Our Dreams, Our World, Our Friendship,” a journal that you can write in together. The journal is full of activities to do together, like designing outfits, taking quizzes, and comparing notes about your one-of-a-kind friendship.
  • Looking for some inspiration from other beautiful girls? Then read “Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women” by Kate Schatz, where you’ll meet Trisha Prabhu, who invented an anti-cyberbullying app when she was 13; Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who stars in her own TV series; and Ify Ufele, the youngest designer to ever debut her creations during Fashion Week, among many, many others. No matter what your interests, you’re sure to find someone to connect with among the dozens of girls from diverse backgrounds and time periods featured in this book.
  • For even more inspiration, turn to Hannah Alper’s book, “Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change,” which includes interviews with change-makers and activists from around the world. It also features tips on what YOU can do to make change. And it was all written by a 15-year-old girl whose path to change-making started at age 9, when she created a blog about her passion for animal rights and the environment.
  • And if all this inspiration has you ready to ACT, turn to “Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All” by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson or “Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World” by Eric David Dawson. “Road Map for Revolutionaries” gives you the real deal on protests, boycotts, politics, and more. (What will happen if you are tear-gassed or arrested at a protest? How will you keep yourself safe on the road to revolution? What are your rights as an activist?) And “Putting Peace First” will introduce you to kids and young adults who have stood up against gun violence, unfair treatment by police, and the separation of kids with disabilities from those who are able-bodied. THEN it will help you examine your heart, speak up, and take steps to change the issues YOU are passionate about. And that’s pretty beautiful!

What about you? What are your favorite books featuring real or imaginary girls with inner beauty? What books do you know of that can help your inner beauty shine? Share your recommendations in the comments!

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Lacey Recommends Books of Poetry and Letters

April is a great month for writing, which makes it a great month for reading, too! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month AND National Letter-Writing Month in the USA? Of course, people everywhere enjoy these types of writing this month, too! That’s why this month’s roundup of books features, you guessed it, poetry and letters!
Poetry
  • The Way to Bea” by Kat Yeh features both poetry AND letter writing. In it, seventh-grader Bea uses poetry to express her emotions about growing apart from her best friends and feeling ignored at home as her parents focus on their jobs and a new baby. Although Bea writes her poems in invisible ink and hides them in a secret spot, to her surprise, someone writes her back! Now she’s determined to find the identity of her secret pen pal. Do some of her old friends miss her, too? Is it the kind librarian at school? Or the boy Bea has a crush on? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
  • If you’re ready to pick up a pen and try your own hand at poetry, or if you’re an experienced poet looking for some new tricks to try, check out “Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry” by Laura Purdie Salas. The book includes instructions on writing different types of poetry (haiku, free verse, and more), bios of famous poets for inspiration, and lots of writing prompts to get you started!

Letters

  • When 11-year-old Reenie has to live with her grandmother after her mom dies, her new paper route helps her adjust to life in a new town. It also brings her to the home of Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. Determined to reach him when he doesn’t answer his door, she starts leaving him letters — and he writes back! In “Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth” by Sheila O’Connor, the entire novel is told in the letters between Reenie and Mr. Marsworth — complete with different handwriting for the two writers — as they try to concoct a plan to keep Reenie’s brother out of the Vietnam War.
  • In “Hope in the Holler” by Lisa Lewis Tyre, Wavie also finds herself adjusting to a new life after her mom dies of cancer. But she soon learns that her aunt Samantha Rose took her in to get an extra Social Security check in the mail, not because she cared about her. Seeking a way to escape her situation, Wavie finds out that she was almost adopted by another family as a child. Is it possible that family might still want her? And will a hopeful letter to the family that could-have-been be enough to change everything?

  • Have you ever written a letter or a diary to someone who you know will never receive it? In “The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani, 12-year-old Nisha writes to her Muslim mother, who she lost when she was just a baby, about the way her life and her country is falling apart. It’s 1947 in India, which has recently been freed from British rule and is now facing Partition, or division into two different countries — one for Muslims, and one for Hindus. When Nisha’s father, who is Hindu, finds himself in the part of the country that is now Pakistan and under Muslim rule, the two of them become refugees fleeing to a new home. Through her letters, Nisha searches for a way to put herself back together even though her country has been ripped apart.

What about you? Have you read any of the books listed above? Do you have favorite books featuring poetry or letters? Tell me about them in the comments below!

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Lacey Recommends Weird & Wonderful Books

Hey, girls! The theme for this month’s book recommendations is “weird and wonderful” — and I admit that it was HARD to narrow down my picks. Not only is there a lot of weird and wonderful stuff out there in the real world, but a lot of authors also have weird and wonderful imaginations. I’ve included a mix of both the real and the imagined, both equally wonderful.

Real Weird and Wonderful

  • Did you know that some fish can live up to 250 years, or that scientists have injected jellyfish genes into cats to make them glow in the dark? For real! I had no idea until I read Random Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird and Totally Not Boring Things to Know by Mike Lowery. Each fact includes a fun illustrated cartoon to drive home just how wacky or amazing it is!
  • So, time travel may still be something that we can only imagine … but the places you might want to visit from the past were very real. In the “Thrifty Guide” handbooks for time travelers by Jonathan W. Stokes, you can visit the past without leaving your favorite chair. Each book is set up like a travel guide including maps, stories, and tips for your next ancient adventure. So far, the thrifty guides can take you to the American RevolutionAncient Rome, and Ancient Greece!
  • What happens when you get a bunch of writers and artists together to exchange story inspiration? Something wonderful … and maybe sometimes a little weird. Check it out for yourself in The Creativity Project, edited by Colby Sharp. In it, Colby asked writers and artists to come up with story prompts, or inspirations, which they they swapped with other writers and artists. This book collects the stories, artwork, and comics that came out of the experiment, by authors such as Kate DiCamillo,  Sophie Blackall, Naomi Shihab Nye, and more. But that’s not all — the book includes prompts and inspirations for YOU, too, so you can join the fun!
  • Feel like getting creative (and maybe a little weird) with some yarn and knitting needles? Then check out Monster Hats: 15 Scary Head Warmers to Knit by Vanessa Mooncie. From cyclops to skulls to aliens, these hats can add a dash of weird and wonderful to any outfit! Some of the knitting techniques used are advanced, so if you are a beginner you might want to tackle the projects with a more experienced knitter.

The Weird and Wonderful World of Imagination

Fantasy is one of my favorite types of books, so I had fun hunting down some fantastical books for this column! This is just a small sampling of all the weird and wonderful fiction that is out there.

  • What if you could SEE when another person was lying? In Melinda Beatty’s Heartseeker, Only has such a gift — she sees colors around people when they lie. But her gift has another side, too — it makes it impossible for her to TELL lies. When the king finds out what she can do, he wants to use her power to weed out traitors in his dangerous and power-hungry court.
  • Ada has a secret — she was born with both human and animal DNA as a result of an experiment gone wrong. When a test reveals the truth about her, she is shipped off to a special school for “chimeras,” or others like her. Soon, she is surrounded by kids as different as she is, with scales, wings, tentacles, and other oddities in Tentacle & Wing by Sarah Porter. As they deal with their families’ mixed feelings about chimeras and regular school problems like bullying, they also must face growing tension between humans and chimeras.
  • Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies, which New Moon Girls featured in 2015, is back with a sequel, Rise of the Jumbies. In it, you can return to Trinidad for another adventure with Jumbies, the wicked spirits from Afro-Carribean folktales. This time, your adventure will also take you under the sea to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea, and travel all the way to West Africa with mermaids to the place where the jumbies legends originated.
  • If you’re looking for even more adventure, pick up The Unicorn Rescue Society books by Adam Gidwitz, featuring friends Uchenna and Elliot on their quests to protect the world’s mythical creatures. Start with the Creature of the Pines, due out in April, and follow up with The Basque Dragon, which will be available this summer!
  • A story doesn’t have to include imagnary creatures to be fantastical, though. In Jessica Day George’s The Rose Legacy, orphan Anthea learns that her long-lost uncle secretly breeds horses, which have been forbidden in her kingdom for centuries. But that’s not all — Anthea has an ancient gift called The Way, which allows her to talk to them. Can she learn to embrace her terrifying gift w hen her family and her kingdom need her?
  • Are you ready to take a trip on a flying ship? Then board the cloudship Orion in Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour, where you’ll meet Nadya, who tends the “cloud garden” that keeps the ship afloat. When the ship is attacked by pirates, Nadya and the other orphans aboard escape, but the rest of the crew is captured. Now it’s up to Nadya and her friends to rescue them, and to find out what the pirates were after in the first place. Beautiful illustrations help bring this fantastical story to life!

Have you read any of the books listed above? Leave your recommendations for some weird and wonderful reads in the comments!

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Girls of the Year 2018 – Isabel and Melati

NMG’s Mar-Apr 2018 cover is our Girls of the Year.  This issue mailed on Feb 22 from Minnesota and you should get it soon if you’re a member! You can also buy it here.

Sisters Isabel and Melati have led a campaign to ban plastic bags in their native Bali since 2013. They’re making real progress and together you can read more about it. Maybe they’ll inspire the girls you love to be activists on something they’re passionate about.

It’s not often mentioned, but social justice activism can provide girls a balancing focus that’s larger than themselves while they navigate the personal and social challenges of their tweens and early teens. It gives them experience coping with problems and unexpected challenges in working with others toward a common goal. They can learn to appreciate the individual strengths of each person in the group and see how the different strengths are all needed to achieve the goal.

Plus, it’s just plain fun and affirming to be around people you share a passion with! And it’s awesome to learn how to accept credit earned by changing the world for the better. Activism is also similar to team sports, another growth activity for these ages, in offering girls opportunities to strive for their personal best and to keep trying even when the result isn’t exactly what they wanted.

This issue also begins celebration of the 25th year of NMG magazine. Our first magazine rolled off the press at Service Printers in Duluth, MN on March 21, 1993, only 9 months after Nancy had the idea for a “junior Ms. magazine,” edited and run by girls. Check newmoongirls.com on March 21 to find special features and ways for you to celebrate with us throughout 2018, no matter where you are.

Other features and departments this issue include: Voice Box: How Smart Can Pets Be? * Tell Us: What’s the Best Dress Code? * Body & Mind: Private Odor Worries? * Just For Fun: Ha! Goofy Games * Weird and Wonderful theme: How Are You One of a Kind? Hair Your Way; Wear What You Like * Women’s Work: bell hooks Rocks! * For the Curious: Be a Bee Friend * Fiction: Lone Wolf, by Daryl, 11, California * Check It Out: Our Hit Parade * Last Word: Ann Bancroft, Polar Explorer.

The gorgeous cover photo is by Paola Gianturco, co-author with her 11 year-old granddaughter, Alex Sangster from their book, Wonder Girls. One hundred percent of the author royalties from the book go to the Global Fund for Women to support girls worldwide.  You can buy the book by clicking on this photo of the cover: