An updated writing manual encourages teenagers to improve their skills.
Speaking specifically to a teen audience, veteran prose guru Peha (Be a Writer, 2006, etc.) seeks to demystify the writing process by making it as approachable as possible. He doesn’t even expect his audience to peruse the whole thing. Readers are encouraged to skip around among the book’s many topics, which include instructions for prose genres as disparate as fiction, academic essays, and personal narratives. “Find a section that interests you,” urges Peha in the first chapter, “spend some time reading it, then use what you learn in your writing right away.” The structure of the book is reflective of this attitude, which is central to the author’s message: readers don’t need to know everything about composition to be accomplished writers. Even if they learn only one new skill and apply it to their own work, it will immediately make them better writers. But Peha offers many tips in this volume. His techniques run the gamut of writing-related strategies, from selecting a topic and organizing thoughts to making stronger arguments and revising a work through better word choices. The book includes axioms (write what you know), twists on conventional wisdom (show and tell), and new bits of advice that even veterans may not have come across before (“Get better faster by finishing many short pieces instead of a few long ones”). Exercises, author interviews, and asides from Peha’s co-writer, Lester (Be a Better Writer, 2006, etc.), round out this comprehensive manual. As one would hope, Peha’s fluid, engaging prose zips across the page: “I try to revise transition words and phrases out of my writing. This cuts down my word count and makes my writing crisper.” The book is calibrated to a teen audience not just in the direct, conversational nature of the prose, but also in the busy, eye-catching way that it is organized. As the author reminds the audience early on, “These days, especially, readers don’t want to read any more than they have to.” The volume mimics a textbook, with quick sections, frequent breaks, numbered lists, font changes, information in the margins, and many examples. While the work may appear chaotic and antsy at first glance, the reader quickly realizes how impeccable the format and presentation actually are. More impressive still is the content, which dives deep into the minutiae of writing to make sure that the reader truly understands not just what structures are operating, but how and why they function. One suggested activity is crafting a passage with no punctuation to force the student to choose words that will communicate their meaning even in the absence of periods and commas. This combination of out-of-the-box thinking and the traditional tactics of composition makes Peha’s work a solid choice for any teen attempting to get a handle on that big, mysterious practice known as writing.An innovative and accessible writing guide for students.
Pub Date: April 20, 2016
Page Count: 376
Publisher: Teaching That Makes Sense
Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017
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A debut interactive workbook for teenagers provides an introduction to positive psychology and various applications.
The challenges teens face are particularly unusual and wide-ranging—from new responsibilities and changing bodies to uncertainty about their futures and ever shifting relationships with parents, peers, and authority figures. These are piled on the pressures of schoolwork that many students have difficulty seeing as important. The philosophy of YOUTH Positive is one of self-understanding and personal management during these turbulent years, introducing ideas of mindfulness and practices like meditation as simple-to-comprehend concepts with easy-to–re-create techniques. In addition, there are more common but just as important tips like eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Each section of the workbook presents pointed questions to promote self-discovery, encouraging adolescent readers to answer through writings or drawings. Negative thoughts and their impacts on relationships and achievements are framed not merely in the context of success and failure, but also what was learned and how these lessons can be applied for self-betterment. Questions about what activities and interests foster the individual’s creativity and passion are especially explored as they concern decisions about a young person’s future and the dreams that should be pursued. Dahl’s book is upbeat and engaging, utilizing her 15-plus years of teaching experience in both public and private schools to offer solutions to everyday teen trials through the ideals of positive psychology. Bright colors, photographs, and charts, coupled with debut illustrator Aramanda’s charming and inclusive images, will likely resonate more with younger teens, but the overall effect is still far less stodgy than a typical textbook. The work is well-cited, with a thorough bibliography and index and two useful appendices. The index makes the manual’s meditation and breathing exercises easier to locate while the appendices supply advice and words of thanks to parents and teachers. In academic settings where the focus is solely on grades and test scores, it is easy to see how a philosophy of self-knowledge and positivity would be both appealing and helpful during those tumultuous teen years.Colorful and upbeat graphics, probing questions, and thoughtful exercises come together to promote understanding and happiness in teens.
Pub Date: July 11, 2018
Page Count: 428
Publisher: YOUTH Positive
Review Posted Online: July 25, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018
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