Over the past week, I’ve heard so many people say the words, “This is getting long.” Folks that a month ago, (myself included), willingly hunkered down, made a list of activities to keep them busy, prove their grit, and stay relatively content, are now getting itchy. We have three grand daughters between the ages of twelve and fifteen, so I’ve been mindful of how this affects that age group, and I would venture to say, they are the itchest of all!
Even at my age, it doesn’t take much to travel back in my mind to my younger self. Around age twelve, the importance of friends in my life seem to supersede family. I began to talk on the phone a lot, beg to stay out later on a Friday or Saturday night, start to get interested in the opposite sex and experience a greater need for privacy and privileges, which often created conflict with my parents. No mystery here, I was an adolescent. I was doing my developmental job and doing it well. Thankfully, I did not have to spend part of that time in the midst of a pandemic.
With that said, my heart also goes out to those devoted parents of adolescents. No doubt, this crisis has created opportunities for bonding and quality family fun. On the other hand, I doubt few families are sailing through this without their share of conflict. I’m sure many moms and dads are just wishing for a little bit of magic to change the situation. I can only imagine being confined with all five of our kids for well over a month and having to oversee their education progress, as well (and I’m a teacher!). All I can say is relax and be gentle on yourselves and your kids.
Today, I simply want to reach out to those who are experiencing the angst of adolescence, either personally or through their children. I will always believe that the “magic book” can help ease many situations. At the least, reading can provide a respite and at its best, reading offers insights, perspectives, new worlds that help youngsters to think critically, reflect deeply and grow. Of course, for some, the trick is to simply get them to pick up a books or magazine (and that will be a topic later in the week). But, as a teacher who worked with struggling adolescent readers for a good number of years, I saw first hand the power of a “just-right” book…a book that intrigues and offers opportunity for a successful reading experience. With that in mind, may I suggest you check out these young adult authors and consider whether one of their books might be a good fit for your adolescent.
FICTION: Sharon Draper, Lois Lowry, R. J. Palacio, Raina Telgemeier, Pam Munoz Ryan, Laurie Halse Anderson, Marion Dane Bauer, Kate Messner
FANTASY: Rick Riordan, Margaret Peternon Haddix, Gordon Korman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Eoin Colfer
SPORTS: Chris Crutcher, Robert Lipsyte, Carl Deuker, Matt Christopher, Mike Lupica, John Feinstein
Friends, may I also encourage you to proceed with caution as you make decisions about how you will navigate the “new normal”. Illness and death still run rampant and we can’t afford to get this wrong. My sincere hope is that all of us will err on the side of caution because the price of bad choices is too high to pay. Hang in there and let reading ease the way for you and your kids.