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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Books like the Guinness Book of World Records or Ripley’s Believe it Or Not never stay on the shelf for long.  

Young people tend to be fascinated (even obsessed) with the limits of experience and the extremes of reality--these kinds of books reveal all the record-breaking aspects of the world. I recall leafing through our own home copy of the Guinness Book Of World Records at about age 9 or 10, just consumed by the images of the curling, caramel-colored finger nails of that record-holder or the unsettling size of the world’s largest human, pig, or pumpkin pie. 

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We don’t completely lose that interest in the extreme features of reality—think about the headlines that most engage you now. Often they reveal something that falls outside the normal—far outside. We love the “superlative” tense in life—the fastest, slowest, most and least of all kinds. The most expensive houses. The smallest technologies etc. We are curious about things that are foreign to us, that seem odd, exotic, bizarre and—for many young people—just plain gross.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

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This journey. This transformation, started one cold, dark morning nine years ago.

She was only 8. Because her mom worked late and her dad? Well, her dad was just a photo she kept by her bedside. Just in case he ever came back, she might recognize him. But, by this point she couldn’t care less.

Anyway. She had to walk to school by herself. 9 blocks. 9 city blocks. The first few times were horrible. Mariposa could not believe all that went on between her apartment and her school. But it did. And she had never known it. She tried to block it out. The gunshots. The trash. The people she had to pass everyday on her walk to school. But she couldn’t! So she decided at the age of 8, that she was going to read on the way to school. If she couldn’t block out the world around her, she would immerse herself in new ones.

She stumbled the first couple times she tried this. But after a few weeks she had the route memorized. She didn’t even need to look up. This was a good thing. All that went on around her became background noise. She knew it was there. But could ignore it. Because she had her own worlds to worry about now. Hogwarts was her favorite. Her escape plan was working.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

teenage girls

"You've been getting messages since you were a baby. Messages about who you are and what you're good at, about how the world sees you and what you should do if you want to succeed ... They said you need to be thin and beautiful ... They warned you if you're strong, opinionated, or take control, you'll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. They asked you why you can't take a joke ... Well,[ f**k] that. I'm here to tell you something else."

So begins Laura Bates' Girl Up, an unsentimental and honest follow-up to Everyday Sexism that works as an introduction to feminism and as a guidebook for young women navigating the realities of misogyny in  the digital age. Bates offers advice on a range of issues from staying safe online and understanding the differences between sex and porn, to speaking up in class and challenging authority.

Girl Up starts with an examination of sexism in social media in which Bates clarifies many double-standards with which many young women are already acquainted:

Step 1: Select your avatar

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

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Jordan knew the moment she sat down to take the test, that her life would never be the same. This little test that they wanted her to take, was to see if any of them had the "aptitude to further their education in a stimulating environment that was able to better help students reach their full potential."

Or in other words, was there anybody smart enough to go to the rich kids private school?

They would have three hours to complete the test. She opened the thin booklet and skimmed the pages that were about to change her life. After quickly glancing at the first few pages she closed the booklet and put her head down on the desk.

Jordan are you okay?

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Don’t worry, they aren’t hoarders.

You may be relieved to hear that it’s very common for young people to collect things. Starting from about age 7 through to about age 14 or 15, collecting is a popular pastime for many young people. What did you collect?  One thing I collected was stickers. I still have my sticker books and–believe it or not–30+ years later those smelly stickers are still smelly. (Probably not organic.)

In addition to collecting things, many young people also take up hobbies, focusing their attention on learning a new skill or learning all they can about someone or something. What was your obsession?  Did you attempt to master a musical instrucment?  Did you dedicate hours to the basketball court or hockey rink?  Did you read everything from a particular author or spend hours absorbing the music of a particular singer or band? 

Collections and hobbies are features of the imagination and important learning tools.

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