Editor Bohannon-Kaplan offers an anthology of excerpts from high school essay contest winners from across the nation.
Adolescents and teenagers want a place and purpose in the world, yet they’re often cast aside as “too young” or “too inexperienced” to contribute much of value to society—a gross underestimation, says this group of authors and essay winners These teens want nothing more than to find a way to change this paradigm and offer young adults a way to contribute to the world. Approaches are varied, but the editor smartly begins this collection with a series of excerpts dealing with causes of the problem. Why is it that adolescents are ignored, handed “dumbed down” material to read and ingest, and given “pats on the back” just for showing up and doing the right thing? Why aren’t they challenged? Some essayists remark that the fault lies with the parents and their tendency to devote too much time to the workplace and not enough time to challenging and raising fulfilled, ambitious children. Others cite the media and a lack of parental guidance, which can lead teenagers to witness and absorb irresponsible habits. One insightful student remarks that teenagers are urged to grow up too fast, as they’re bombarded with images of celebrities on television. From here, the book moves away from the problem and toward a solution: Readers will find hopeful, creative responses from a wide array of teenagers who seem to take responsibility for their generation’s purported lack of focus. Writers offer specific advice, from teenagers creating their own volunteer opportunities, to special classes dedicated to adolescents learning who they are. Throughout, there’s a constant call for help—that is, a call for adults to help these young students facilitate change, find themselves and find valuable roles they can play within their community. Of particular note is the diversity of voices and opinions. Some students seem to take matters into their own hands, focusing on what they can do moving forward. Others isolate the reasons why they’ve been stunted, unmotivated or even discouraged. Combined, these voices create an enjoyable, important book that represents a cross-section of young people ready for change.
A valuable read for teachers, parents and adolescents concerned with the teenage hopes and dreams.