Book Club Guide for Parents

Journey to Resilience: From Trauma to Healing” is the book club guide everyone needs when reading What Happened to You? by Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey

About the book club guide

The Children’s Trust Fund Alliance’s book club guide lets you explore how you feel and think about your own life experiences and daily experiences as a parent while reflecting on the book What Happened to You? by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey.

It all started when the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services asked the Alliance to purchase What Happened to You? for the parents on the Georgia Parent Advisory Council (GA PAC). Not only did the Alliance buy the book, we offered to support the parents as they read it – the birth of the book club concept and the need for a guide. The Alliance wanted to provide a safe space for the parents to look at their own experiences and realize that these experiences don’t define their future, but make up a part of who they are, and by examining them they can find strength and resolve to carry on to a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Helping lead the GA PAC book club was Chloe Corrion, an intern at the time with the Alliance, and Kara Georgi, Alliance Parent Partnership Associate. They worked closely with Norma McReynolds, Alliance graphic designer, to create the “Journey to Resilience: From Trauma to Healing” discussion guide.

The Alliance thanks the members of the GA PAC for their vulnerability and sharing their life stories during their book club. Thank you to Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey for writing this book and for beginning the conversation.

The Alliance was pleased to work with the Georgia Division of Children and Family Services to help them develop their Parent Advisory Council and to support their work promoting parent leaders. For more information about the Alliance’s technical assistance and consultation on building partnerships with parents, click HERE.


Help us get the word out about our “Journey to Resilience: From Trauma to Healing” book club guide for parents or anyone reading What Happened to You? by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey. We’ve got social media images for you to share with your network. Check out this social media toolkit and download and distribute the memes in it.


“Oprah and I truly appreciate the thought and hard work that went into study guide. I really like the images, and it’s fun that people can download and color their own version.”

Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD

What’s in the book club guide

The book club guide is constructed to correspond with each chapter in What Happened to You? However, you can use each chapter section as a stand alone or for additional conversation. The conversations range from 45 minutes to an hour depending on the ability and willingness to engage. Each chapter section includes:

  • A short summary of the chapter
  • Leveled questions
    • Introduction/icebreaker
    • Diving deeper
    • Reflection
  • Links to resources
  • Wrap-up/inspirational quotes
  • Moving to action
  • Coloring sheets
  • Sample refection journal pages

The book club guide can be used by individuals, small or large groups and even in a conference setting. Although this project was started with one parent advisory council, the Alliance is pleased to share this book club guide with other parent councils, organizations, communities and individuals who want to shift the language from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?”.


Sample reflection journal pages are included in the book club guide. If you need additional pages to record your journey to resilience, they are available to download below in color and in greyscale:

Start a book club

“Georgia PAC member here. This book club has been LIFE CHANGING! The bonds and the connection that the space provides is priceless.” 

What Happened to You? by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey is a reflective book for readers on their own and also a concrete tool readers can explore together. The book club concept for parents allows them to come together to talk about their life experiences and how it relates to their everyday parenting. 

This book club concept is intended to create a space for parents to bond, share and connect. It allows for a judgement-free space where parents can check in with one another and learn from each other. It is also a space where the parents can reflect and think about and process some of their thoughts or emotions while reading. 

Book Club Guide Objectives

Use the book club guide alongside What Happened to You? to: 

  • Empower families to discuss needs of themselves and their community
  • Further develop connections amongst members of the community 
  • Create space free of judgement and where families can ask questions 
  • Implement prevention tools and resources to help families feel strengthened
  • Spread awareness of protective factors and work of the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance

Georgia Parent Advisory Council’s book club experience

After the Georgia Parent Advisory Council (GA PAC) book club started, the Alliance reached out to Oprah Winfrey. Oprah surprised the GA PAC parents by joining their final book club meeting on December 15, 2021 as a very special guest. During the Zoom meeting, Oprah shared her thoughts about writing the book and incorporating learnings from her own life. She acknowledged the important role of parents and was pleased that the discussion of What Happened to You? was valuable to the PAC members. PAC members thanked Oprah for coming to their meeting and helping to write What Happened to You?.

“I would love to see more book clubs spring up within certain cultural/ethnic/social groups where women (and men) can feel even more connected and a part of the process. Just like we all related to each other because of our GA PAC connections, perhaps other social/community organizations could do something similar.”

More parent resources

Since 2006, the Alliance has developed and partnered with networks of parents to elevate their voices to policymakers and to join with them in developing policies and practices that help support families and lead to better outcomes for children and youth. Take time to learn about: