How do we equip our daughters to be warrior princesses to courageously fight the battle for the soul of humanity? By reading a great novel. Really? Yes. I’m not kidding. Let’s try out a book club that celebrates feminine GENIUS with women in every season of life: MOTHERS, daughters, SISTERS, aunts, GRANDMOTHERS, grand-daughters, COUSINS, in-laws, NEIGHBORS & friends. Grown-up ladies can come alongside of teen and pre-teen girls to help them along their way.
Heroic Virtue Mentoring?
The most spiritually at-risk population in modern society are youth, especially girls, in middle grade, high school and college. Sexual exploitation, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide are evidence of the devastating attacks they suffer on a daily basis. Many girls are so desensitized by toxic reading and entertainment that learning virtue feels more foreign than trying to learn Swahili. We can come alongside the young ladies we love to help them rediscover the true girl power in the internal strength of selflessness. Wholesome novels that are fun to read (Yes, the two can go together.) can “normalize” holy faith and true goodness for girls and teens. They will respond to the unique feminine genius that shines in a woman’s thoughts, words and actions in a great story. Imagery portraying moral character in the female figures in a novel imprints in the imagination how to be a woman of substance and spiritual strength. It’s far more powerful to SHOW rather than tell the kind of wonderful women God designed our girls to be.
Show VIRTUE. Don’t tell it.
We have an undying spiritual enemy who relentlessly tempts us and taunts us to destroy ourselves. It is important to note that the evil we fight attacks us on the inside. This battle requires extraordinary interior strength. That strength, a multi-faceted expression of intense love, is known as Virtue. Imagination is where young women forge inside themselves the weapons and skills to wield the heroic loving power of virtue. A caring mom, grandma, big sister, aunt, etc. reading the right book at the right time together with a younger woman is a powerful mentoring opportunity to help our girls to embrace their noble destiny. I’m here to direct you to some extraordinary books and give you a way to discuss some easy-to-understand virtues. You choose the the girl/s, the time, and the place.
GENERATIONS sharing TOTALLY Feminine GENIUS
This ridiculously simple way for grown-up women to mentor teen and pre-teen girls is effortless and fun. This is the first version. It’s one the unique initiatives offered through the ministry of VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA that I’ve developed to empower parents, grandparents and teachers to cultivate virtue in thought and behavior in the young people they love through reading and entertainment. You can help us test it out. It’s called the: TOTALLY Feminine GENIUS Generations Book Club™ Guide (Abbreviated: TFG Generations Book Club) It’s a free one-page PDF for you to print out and use. Yep. It’s that simple. Download and print yours.
There are twelve recommended TFG books for women and girls age 11 to 15 and up, and twelve recommended TFG books for women and girls age 16-20 and up. The books are written by Catholic authors and may have Catholic characters or themes, but you can still enjoy this club as a non-Catholic. These books breathe faith and virtue but do NOT preach, poke or push religion. This is a do-it-yourself club. No membership. No dues. Click on the link above and print out the PDF page. You can fold it and use it as a bookmark while you read and/or use it later to facilitate your discussion. All the book titles in the two TFG recommended reading lists are hyperlinked so you can find out more about each title and see how to get them. I’ve heard from some of the authors that you can contact them through their websites, or check directly with the publisher of a book you like, to get a discount for buying multiple copies of a particular book. Your “club” can be as small as 2 or as big as 10 or more. The ladies involved can be between age 11 and 111. All you have to do is: gather your readers, pick one of the recommended books, read it, look for the virtues that shine in it, and meet for coffee, cocoa or tea and discuss.
You can get creative in how you do your club. Perhaps you are just a mom doing it with your middle grade and young adult daughters and you invite grandma and aunt Jeannie to join you. Maybe your daughter is in 7th grade and you invite a group of girl-moms to do a club with the moms and their daughters. Let’s say you are part of the mother’s club at your daughter’s high school. The TFG Generations Book Club can be a valuable way for more girls and moms to connect. A team of High School girls could use the TFG Generations Book Club as a service project to “adopt” a group of grandmas at a nursing home to read and visit with. Grade School teachers and librarians can offer this as a virtue-formation tool for moms to enjoy with their daughters. This is a prototype we are piloting together. With your feedback, we will make it better and better.
When you try out this club with your group, small or large, join the Totally Feminine Genius Generations Book Club conversation at the Virtue Works Media page on Facebook.
To demonstrate how this multi-generational book club could work, let’s consider a brand new book from an award-winning author. The book is Julia’s Gifts by CatholicMom.com contributor Ellen Gable. It is available as an e-book and in paperback. This is an engaging historical fiction love story, enjoyable for both grown-ups and girls to read. I’ve chosen it because it truly can be appreciated by the full spectrum of women between age 11 and 111. The story follows the journey of a girl named Julia who gathers gifts for a beloved whom she has never met. Providence blesses her patience and vision in surprising ways. Julia volunteers as an aid worker in Europe during the First World War and her story inspires us with drama and virtue gently woven into each page. With Julia, we enter into a time in history when the notion virtue was not only a familiar word, but also living with virtue was a community value. Reflecting on the virtue of that generation can help us renew our own.
Here’s how you could use Julia’s Gifts to start your TFG GENERATIONS Book Club. A club hostess invites the other moms and daughters, grand-moms and grand-girls, aunts, cousins, sisters, neighbors, friends, etc. whom you want to do the club with. Decide how long you want to take to read the book. Plan a date to meet at someone’s home or at a tasty bakery/coffee shop. Club members can print out the TFG GENERATIONS Book Club Guide page at home, or the club hostess can bring copies for everyone to use for discussion. Meet. Discuss. Enjoy!
Remember it is important to treat the teens and pre-teens as equals with adults in this women’s book club discussion. When the girls are treated as peers in the conversation, their hearts lift and they are then actually more receptive to their elders. If you position yourself as a teacher, it will flop. If you are a friendly mentor, your efforts will be blessed.
The TOTALLY feminine GENIUS Generations Book Club uses thirty “everyday virtues” divided into six special categories to facilitate your virtue conversation. Each virtue has a short and simple descriptive definition. This makes it easy to recognize virtues as you read your TFG Generations Book Club book and discuss them. For Julia’s Gifts, I considered the virtues in the various categories and I think some of the premier virtues in the story are: Devotion: because Julia’s love never wavers, Kindness: in the way Julia and the other women dedicate themselves to the care of the wounded soldiers, Perseverance in the unwavering endurance demonstrated by Julia’s beloved and Courage in the way the women face danger and make sacrifices to help those in need. Your group might decide that different virtues are the most prominent in the story. The point is to reflect on virtue, see the value of it, and be inspired to imitate it. In this book, the the joyful tenacity of women in the midst of war is a particularly powerful image of the way femininity can uniquely express virtue. This is true in all the circumstances we face in life.
You can have confidence the books recommended in this club are good stories both with literary excellence and virtue packed content. Just look at what others are saying about Julia’s Gifts. These are only a handful of the faith-filled bloggers talking about this book. Mary Lou Rosien at Dynamic Women of Faith, Carolyn Astfalk at My Scribbler’s Heart Blog, Sarah Reinhard at Snoring Scholar, and Therese Heckenkamp at Catholic-Fiction.com.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the great titles recommended for reading in this club!
Here’s the whole LIST of TOTALLY Feminine GENIUS GENERATIONS Book Club
For women & girls age 16-20 and up. Each of these books is “clean read” fun fiction story.
Click on the title hyper-linked title to choose your new favorite from a range of genres. These are rare gems that tell a great, often intense, story amidst a subtle fragrance of faith and virtue. Both grown-ups and teens will find these stories a refreshing break from the more typical dark, often cloyingly explicit, heavily advertised YA reads. Several of these can be read by girls at a younger age, but that is mom’s call.
Cinder Allia by CatholicMom.com contributor Karen Ullo
Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden
Stay With Me by CatholicMom.com contributor Carolyn Asfalk
Vanished by Irene Hannon
I AM Margaret by Corinna Turner
Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan
The Arrow Bringer by Lisa Mayer
Awakening by Caludia Cangilla McAdam
The Well by Stephanie Landsem
At Home in Persimmon Hollow by Gerri Bauer
Mind Over Mind by Karina Fabian
Unclaimed by CatholicMom.com contributor Erin McCole Cupp
For women & girls age 11-15 and up. Busy grown-up moms, grandmas, aunts and teacher/mentors enjoy the ease of reading these novels with the girls they love. Choose from the hyper-linked titles to find a title you probably never heard of before but will be elated to discover. Teens older than fifteen will delight in many of these titles as well, especially Julia’s Gifts.
Julia’s Gifts by CatholicMom.com contributor Ellen Gable ( The title featured in this article. )
Playing By Heart Carmela Martino
Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman
The Kings Prey by Susan Peeke
An Unexpected Role by Leslea Wahl
A Single Bead by Stephanie Engleman
Cracks in the Ice by Deanna Klingel
The Locket’s Secret by K. Kelly Keyne
Billowtail by CatholicMom.com contributor Sherry Boas
Freeing Tanner Rose by T. M. Gaouette
Olivia and the Little Way by Nancy Carabio Belanger
Something else to think about is the way you acquire your books. Consider getting your TFG Generations Book Club books from a local Catholic bookstore in your area. They can order any of these books for you and you are supporting an important ministry promoting faith and virtue with your patronage. Amazon is handy, but they support a lot of unsavory stuff, so it’s good to give our business to shopping alternatives when we can. Here’s a handy store locator where all you have to do is enter your zip code to find a local business bookstore near you. Give them a call!
If you want to connect with more books and authors (than I can include here) who depict heroic virtue in the stories they tell, click on Catholic Teen Books. You’ll like what you find there.
Modern society compartmentalizes people into stereotyped groups. Seniors, Adults, Teens, and Children. It is one of many ways the evil one divides and conquers us. Sometimes the most effective battle plan is the simplest. Let’s mix things up. We can bring all ages together beyond the mayhem of family gatherings at Christmas and Easter. Let’s us girls sit down together with a warm mug and a talk over a good book and be the family mentors and soul sisters God meant for us to be. In this gentle way, I think the Totally Feminine Genius Generations Book Club just might plunge a huge feminine genius warrior princess sword in the heart of our cowardly, annoying, and toothless spiritual enemy.
With this book club, moms and grandmas everywhere can shout, “Take that…you slime, these girls are mine!” (or something like that.) Enjoy!
Copyright 2017 Cathy Gilmore
About the author: Cathy Gilmore is an author, editor, educator and VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA Ministry founder. Virtue Works Media is pioneering an entirely new way to look at both print and visual media through the lens of virtue. This is the start of a movement in which educators and families can have clear rubrics and a dynamic platform that enables everyone to think about, enjoy and recommend quality entertainment that offers the soul satisfying content that is worth our time. Follow Cathy on twitter @PowerofParable to get daily movie and book recommendations with a nice sprinkling of inspiring quotes. Follow Cathy’s Virtue Ink blog at CatherineCGilmore.com to get the latest information as this ministry emerges.