Best Social Justice Books For Teens

Best Social Justice Books For Teens

Lessons we need to learn…

Social justice books for teens are a great way to teach real world lessons that they can continue to learn through their lives. Social justice is an ongoing issue in real life.

As a mom, as a teacher, as a person, I need to be willing to put myself in someone else’s shoes. To empathize with my fellow man. As I live out my life, I hope that the lessons my own children, as well as my students, have learned from me will help them to be better people. To be empathetic, sympathetic, to be GOOD people, now and always.

Respect.

Tolerance.

Diversity.

Equality.

Justice.

These are all concepts that need to be taught. Defined. Lived. As mothers, teachers, parents, we can only do so much, but with everyone’s help, our world can be a better place.

With headline after headline of police brutality, rioting, social injustice-sadly, the list goes on and on. We need to do better. We need to BE better. No excuses. We have run out of time.

Best social justice books for teens -movies too!

What I have taught….

One of the units that I teach as a middle school English teacher is Deep Study of Character -with Lucy Calkins curriculum. It is literature based on all the above characteristics woven through their themes. I love to use books to teach all sorts of lessons.

I was new back to the classroom last year after a long hiatus bringing up my boys, so many of the books on the following list are still new to me. However, I have researched all of these, and I am part of a wonderful group of teachers on Facebook that shares and elaborates, so I pulled a lot of information from that group. Read on for great social justice books for young adults (and everyone)!

Check the bottom of the post for other options besides books!

Here is a link to one of my most popular posts: Best Books to Read When Parenting a Teen

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Best social justice books for teens|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

Social justice books for teens and, really anyone!

These books were chosen to represent the best of what I have taught and what I have learned as a teacher listening to other teachers…

There are sections for picture books, short stories, young adult and adult, and finally, authors who have written so many books to choose from. I wanted to get this out and published because this is such an important subject and will be adding to this list frequently!

*This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. My full disclosure policy is here.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”―Martin Luther King Jr.

Picture Books

Not My Idea -Higginbotham This is an honest book that looks at race, racism and being white in today’s world. This addresses the topic of civic responsibility in a great way for kids to relate to. I have ordered for my classroom!

For white folks who aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about race, this book is the perfect beginning. —O MAGAZINE

It’s Our World, Too: Young People Who Are Making a Difference: How They Do It -How You Can Too! -Hoose  This is two books in one. First part is stories about kids today who are making a difference in various ways. The second part is how-to advice to get started for young people who WANT to make a difference in positive ways.

Juneteenth for Mazie – Cooper Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the southern United States that had formed the Confederacy. This is a sweet story about a little girl who is ready to celebrate freedom. She celebrates the day her ancestors were freed from slavery.

Separate is Never Equal – Tonatiuh  The unknown story of school integration in California 10 years before Brown v. The Board of Education. This began school integration in California for Mexican-Spanish American children.

You, Me, and Empathy -Sanders   “Showing empathy towards others is a learnt trait, and one to nurture and cherish with the children in our care,” -this quote taken from the book description. Such a wonderful book about the main character, Quinn learning that empathy means “being able to understand how another person is feeling and recognizing their needs helps people to connect to one another across race, culture and the diversity that is ever-present and so important to our world.”  Everyone needs to read this one!

Unspeakable -Weatherford This is a wonderful book about a terrible event that took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma one hundred years ago.

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”― Georg Lichtenberg

Short Stories

Thank You, M’am – Langston Hughes This short story is all about morality. What is good? How do we know? A boy tries to steal a woman’s purse to buy a new pair of shoes. Find out what happens… I found this on the CommonLit website.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories -Ellen Oh   This selection of stories is such a great collection. I have not read them all, but between my classes last year, I have heard about all of them from my students. All sorts of stories about all sorts of people. My students chose the story with this book that resonated with to do a project on for class. These ten stories are all great in their own way.

The Hero Next Door -Rhuday-Perkovich  This is another gathering of stories about being brave in today’s world. Young people can make a difference, all it takes a little courage. Again, I have not read all of this collection, but the couple that I have read were great!

Fresh Ink – Giles  These short stories are unfinished. Their endings are still playing out in today’s headlines. These are all amazing stories of individuality and bravery. Diverse and raw and uplifting. Please read!

Our Stories, Our Voices -Reed  These are essays by popular YA authors who all have something to say about all sorts of things that happen as kids grow up.

The Treasure of Lemon Brown -Myers  I found this on CommonLit.org  We studied this story in my eighth grade class this year. So many lessons contained in this short story! We all loved it.

51 Black Heroes -Norwood “Black Heroes introduces you to 51 black leaders and role models from both history and modern times” from all walks of life. This book is for younger audiences, but also good for lower readers.

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Try Audible on Amazon and get 2 free books!

Young Adult

Wishtree -Applegate  An old oak tree that has been used as a “wishtree” for the surrounding community. A new family that is not necessarily welcomed by all. A crow and other creatures watch from the trees branches as this story unfolds. This is a wonderful story told by a tree, but so much more! If you are not a fan of fantasy, give this a try anyway-because, a tree is wise.

Dear Martin -Stone  This follows the story of a Justyce, who always Is doing the right thing: honor student, helps those in need, all-around good guy. Then, he is arrested and cuffed by an off-duty police officer after an event which Justyce just happens to be there. I have not read this, but it’s on my list! There is a sequel, Dear Justyce, which follows up as Justyce is at Yale as a college student.

Refugee -Gratz  This was another class favorite. Three refugees on three different paths are all connected  by the end of the story. All of them leave homes that they love for reasons beyond their control. They encounter so many difficulties both on their journeys and at their different destinations. I learned a lot about the plight of refugees and many of their circumstances!

All-American Boys -Co-written by Reynolds and Kiely  This story could unfortunately be ripped out of today’s headlines. Gripping and realistic. Could not put down!

Long Way Down -Reynolds  This book has haunted me. My students all were intrigued by this story and a lot of great discussion came from this. The length of time it takes to get down Will’s building’s elevator. His brother has been shot and killed. While Will rides the elevator down one day, he is visited by people from his brother’s past as it stops at each floor. This is now available in a graphic novel version -soooo good!

Will got on the elevator with a singular purpose. Will he get out at the bottom and carry through his plan?

Weekly dose of parenting encouragement

“Genuine equality means not treating everyone the same, but attending equally to everyone’s different needs.”― Terry Eagleton

The Poet X – Acevedo  The main character her, Xiomara, is a young woman with a lot to say. She writes in her journal, and has many thoughts that she feels cannot be shared anywhere else. She is invited to a slam poetry contest, but she knows that her family would not approve.

The 57 Bus -Slater  This is based on a true story. Two kids from completely different parts of the world, within one city. They have eight minutes together each day. Then a tragic event occurs. One is injured. One is charged with a crime…

Monster -Myers  This is a complicated story about the trial of a young man for a crime. Is he guilty or innocent? A pawn of the system and the characters surrounding the crime. Is he a “monster” as he has been titled? Steve, the young man in this story, starts to transcribe his story as a film script. What is the verdict? This would be a good one to read with your teen…

Mexican White Boy – de la Peña  Half Mexican, half white, Danny is struggling with a lot of things as a teenager in San Diego. He mostly wants to figure out where he belongs…

The Hate You Give -Thomas  I have to admit that I have not read the book, but I loved the movie!

Harbor Me -Woodson  I loved this book! Six kids meet in a room that they have a special name for. They can talk about their lives. It’s a wonderful story about a caring teacher, a group of kids dealing with so much, and the friendships that evolve from their meetings. My students loved this book.

Out of My Mind – Draper  This book really got to me. Locked into a body that won’t work, Melody is assumed to be stupid. Far from it. She finally proves that she is really smart only to be rejected again. Heartbreaking, heartwarming… My students learned that students with disabilities are always what they seem! Along the same lines as Wonder, another wonderful book and movie -talk about overcoming adversity!

Ghost Boys -Rhodes  Two boys meet who have been tragically been killed as a result of racism in different places and times. They help one another to figure out some things about what happened to each of them. This is on my list to order for my classroom!

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry -Taylor  This is a classic! A wonderful story set in the depression about hate and racism and social injustice. It stands the test of time.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You -Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi  The authors reworked Kendi’s book Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and write it in a way so that you can identify racist thoughts and ideas and “stamp” them out when they begin. I have not read this, but it was recommended by a good friend who is a counselor as a great choice for this list.

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”― Ijeoma Oluo

For Adults

Just Mercy  -Stevenson  This is a true story about a young lawyer defending a young man accused of a crime he swears that he did not commit. Compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, another great book about good v. evil.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness -Brown  Written by Austin Brown, who finds out at the age of 7, that her parents named her Austin so that future schools and employers would think that she was a white man. As she grows up, Austin learns that people don’t mean what they say, and she grapples with what it means to be a woman of color in today’s world. Really good insight for me.

The Nation Must Awake -There are many books written about the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. I really like this one in particular because it is a memoir written in story form by a woman who lived through this event with her daughter.

Raising Fences -Datcher  I read this a few years ago for a book club. It’s a memoir written by a black man who wants to be a good father without having had one himself. This was painful to read, but I never felt so white while reading this.

Americanah -Aditchie  This is a novel that really opened my eyes. It is a love story, but is also a story about how unaware we are of race in this country as white people. This was so good!

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration -Wilkerson  This is a story that covers the migration of six million people from the south to the north in the US from 1915 to 1970. Thousands of interviews and really great stories of a people who tried to escape oppression and find a better life for themselves and their families.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America -Kendi  “In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.” This is at the top of my list to read. Grab the companion book co-authored by Kendi and Jason Reynolds, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.

“The world howls for social justice, but when it comes to social responsibility, you sometimes can’t even hear crickets chirping.”― Dean Koontz 

Authors to Check Out

Kwame Alexander

Matt de la Peña

Gary Soto

Jason Reynolds

Jacqueline Woodson

Walter Dean Myer

Alan Gratz

From my friend, Louisa, over at LPTutoring, she has this great list of podcasts that I copied here. Her post is awesome and has book as well as other resources!

Hope this helps you start a conversation…

This list is by no means complete! Please let me know if you have a good suggestion that will help to teach our young people lifelong lessons. I hope that these best social justice books for teens will help you start or continue a conversation that has to happen in order for our world to be a better place for everyone.

Other book posts: 9 Books to Read With or Without Your Teen, Great Book Gifts for Teens (And Adults!),

And, here is a link to my ongoing list of favorite books on Amazon!

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter below for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

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5 Steps to Avoid Losing Your Cool With Your Teen

5 Steps to Avoid Losing Your Cool With Your Teen

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5 Steps to Avoid Losing Your Cool With Your Young Adult

My good friend Shannon Hale at www.skiptomylife.com has kindly written this guest post letting us know how to avoid losing your cool with your teen. She has some great ideas! It’s tough to remember exactly where the burning sensation started. Perhaps I mistook it for a hot flash. Before I knew it, I was excusing myself from the room, muttering something to my husband about this being HIS son.

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Avoid Losing Your Cool with Your Teen!

When Your Darling Child Comes Home From College…

What could my rising freshman possibly have said to stir such emotion, just moments after hugs and welcome-homes from his first year at college? I’m going to tell you. Because even though I’m not usually a betting kind of gal, I’d be willing to place cash on the barrel that you will hear some version of these two sentences come from the lips of your sweet child in the coming weeks:

“You never knew what I was doing when I was away at school. Why do I have to tell you where I am now that I’m home”?

How to avoid losing your cool with your young adult

Whether you’re launching a graduate or welcoming one home this summer, the routine you’ve settled into over the school year is sure to change in the coming days. And, surprise! The dynamics between you and your young adult may have morphed more than either of you are expecting.

Learn from me, friends, and top off the volcano of unrealistic expectations before it erupts. Just a little planning on your part and a short discussion with your student can make the difference between a frustrating summer and one you’ll cherish for years to come. Don’t worry; I’ll walk you through this process step-by-step.

Living with young adults feels a little like walking a tightrope over the Grand Canyon. It takes a lot of balancing to trust our kid on one side while requiring their personal responsibility on the other. That balancing act can leave us, as parents, a bit wobbly. Add to this the fear of major repercussions for slipping too far to either side, and we are quickly set up for a very stressful summer. 

Avoid Losing Your Cool with Your Teen

Avoid Summer Slump

“Summer Slump” is the term coined to describe the post-semester blues that result from a combination of factors:  change in daily routine, distance from friends, and unforeseen conflict in family and romantic relationships. About 1 in 3 students described themselves as depressed as a result of this phenomenon.

Quote:  “Without our rigid schedules where our days are planned down to the minute, we begin to feel like we don’t know who we are anymore.” (Post-Semester Depression, Kaitlyn Skye Hipple, Odyssey, May 3, 2016)

As the busyness of the school year comes to a screeching halt, don’t be left frantically navigating how your teen will fill their summer days. Take just 30 minutes to talk through some simple strategies and set a plan in motion, and you’ll see major pay-off in the coming months. Here’s how you’ll spend that half hour.

5 tips to Avoid losing your cool with your young adult this summer

1. Get out the calendar

Young adults are notorious for misunderstanding time constraints. Pull out the calendar and start by figuring out just how many weeks are unaccounted for this summer. It may be fewer than you, or your student, think. 

Next step:  post any dates that are already scheduled, such as family vacations, weddings, deadlines and social events. These events will serve to break up the perception of monotony of the months stretching before your student.

Click here for a free printable summer planner.

2. Take time to dream

Give your student permission to dream about what they’d like to do this summer. During my son’s last summer before college, he and his cousin organized a cross-country road trip to see their favorite band. 

Although I was tempted to say “absolutely not” when he first presented the idea, the planning and responsibility he showed won me over. Put a lock on your lips and just listen. You may be surprised to see a new side of your kid.

How can you avoid losing your cool with your teen this summer?!

Once they’ve had their say, it’s time for mom and dad to share their dreams for the summer. This might include something as simple as visiting the local snow cone stand or as epic as a major bike ride. Your summer will be so much more fun if you don’t lose your cool with your young adult!

3. Discuss guidelines

Learn from my mistakes, my wonderful friends. Don’t assume your student knows what you expect from them this summer. You are making the transition from parenting to coaching, from living with your child to living with another adult.

It’s tough. It’s awkward. But we can do this. Setting simple guidelines about household chores, curfew, communication, use of car- will keep you from so many rolling eyeballs and slammed doors.

Remember that they have, indeed, kept themselves from dying over the last several months. Give them credit and very generous limits.

I grew up in a home with one bathroom. Not one full bath and one half bath- one toilet, one sink, one shower. So many battles could have been avoided and so many tears could have been saved had we just sat down and figured out a schedule. But then my sisters and I wouldn’t have near the stories to tell, right?

4. Provide options

In the event that your teen’s answer to question 2 is “play video games on the couch”, here’s some help. You, dear parent, will come to this conversation armed with some ideas for summer options. Here is the beauty of taking 30 minutes to have this planning session in early summer versus waiting until mid-July.

Avoid losing your cool with your teen this summer!

As you probably know, but your teen may not, now is the time to apply for and pursue a summer job, schedule an internship, or sign up for summer classes. I know, I know, you’re afraid this revelation will push your already-overwhelmed kid into overload. But here’s where your pre-work will pay off. 

Show them support by offering to temporarily take something off their plate so they can have a couple of hours to fill out an application online or schedule a meeting with a local business owner.

5. Celebrate and model self-care

Summer is a great time for students to catch up on sleep, get into better eating habits or start an exercise program. But we can’t very well encourage them to do those things if we’re not doing them ourselves.

Choose a few goals you’d like to work on this summer. Your son or daughter will be more motivated by your actions than by nagging. Plan to celebrate reaching a weight or fitness goal as a family.

Now that another school year is in the books, push the easy button and set aside some time for summer planning with your student. You’ll be glad you did when fall rolls around and you’re waving goodbye once again.

Here is another post about dealing with students home for a break by my friend Dana at Parenting in Real Life.

Tools to help:  how to avoid losing your cool with your young adults 

Shannon created a free printable summer planner that will walk you through the 5 steps above.

Thanks to Shannon for all the great ideas for ideas on how to avoid losing your cool with your young adults. This is our first summer that our boys are NOT coming home, and that is a whole other story! 

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Avoid Losing Your Cool with Your Teen!

Here are other blog post links…

Great Books to Read With or Without Your Teen,

7 Things to Know If You Love a Teenager,

Great Games to Play With Your Teens Anytime

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter below for a weekly dose of love from me about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!❤️

Stressed Out Teen? 15  Easy Ways Parents Can Help

Stressed Out Teen? 15 Easy Ways Parents Can Help

So, you have a stressed out teen…

Today is such a strange reality. We are all home. Working at home. Staying at home. Our teens are home from school and college. There are so many things that keep happening, it makes your head spin! Here are some ideas that will  help out a stressed out teen in overwhelming times.

(I first wrote this back in April of 2020. Some things have changed. Some have not. Many kids are able to go to school in some type of in seat hybrid version, some are learning in pods, and some are totally virtual. No matter which way, their lives probably look very different than they did one year ago this time. These tips for checking with your teen’s mental health are possibly more important today than ever.

We have a son struggling with depression -and before Covid had no problems. Would they have surfaced without this pandemic? Possibly, but we will never know. All I know is that I am proud of how he has handled himself, and he is working his way towards his future with help from us, his friends, and a counselor. Please check in with your teens!)

 Our whole world completely turned upside down! What is next? For about four days in a row, I kept thinking that it could not get any worse, and I kept being wrong… If our adult heads are spinning, just imagine what is going on in our teen’s brains and hearts right now.

 

 

 

I have reached out to my blogging friends to find the best advice that they have for our stressed out teens today and any other time.

Here is the advice that they have shared.

*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.

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Stressed out teen|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

Grab a  Survival Chart for your stressed out teen here!

Calming tips for a stressed out teen

Leo Baubata posted his zen habits for calmness. Here are his 7 habits and the link to his article with much more information:

  1. A calm morning ritual
  2. Watch your response when you are stressed
  3. Don’t take things personally
  4. Be grateful
  5. Create stress coping habits
  6. Single task
  7. Reduce noise

If you can encourage your teen to just try one or two of these habits to try, it will go a long way to relieving their stress. I, for one, reduced the noise I was hearing over the past weekend. I did not listen to news. I did not read anything that might stress me out.

I basically took a time out from news for a couple of days. It was wonderful, and I plan on doing this every weekend from now for as long as the current (insert whatever you want!) situation goes on.

For a relaxing bath, here are are some bath bombs for guys and gals.

The news isn’t going anywhere. I was available to my family and friends if something came up, but it really refreshed my soul to tune the world out for a bit.

Have your teen try a time out, even if it’s just for a few hours, they will be glad they did it! This will be a great way to help a stressed out teen.

Here are my friends’ tips for calming your teens…

Calming Activities by Karen at Nourishing Teens

Tips for Getting to Sleep Faster by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Calming an Anxiety Attack by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Weekly dose of parenting encouragement

 

Diverting Activities

Our teens have a lot of time on their hands even with school, friends, social media, and right now, a world-wide pandemic. Here are a few fun things that might distract them when they have a moment of boredom! Staying busy is good for a stressed out teen, as long as it is balanced with rest and relaxation. Here are my friend’s tips for keeping your teen busy…

18 Killer Podcasts by Nancy at Raising Teens Today

101 Things to Do When You’re Stuck at Home by Nancy at Raising Teens Today

Things for Bored Teens/Tweens To Do While Stuck Inside by Karen at Nourishing Teens

100 Blissful Solutions to Teen Boredom by Shannon at Skip to My Life

5 Things That Your Teen Needs to Know About Their Grandparents by Shannon at Skip to My Life

Things To Do During Quarantine by Loren at LorenKellyCoaching

Easy Ways for Tweens and Teens to Relax by Laurie at Pardon Me, My Crown Slipped

Stressed out teens|www.parentinghighschooelrs.com

Helping Your Teen With Anxiety

If a teen has anxiety, it’s a whole other dimension of stress. It is all-consuming, and overpowering. Teens may need outside help. They for sure need for you to know that it is very real to them. More than anything, they need your love and support!

Here are my friends’ tips for dealing with teen anxiety…

Why Anxiety Can Destroy Your Gen Z Child by Shannon at Skip to My Life

How To Mitigate Anxiety In Your Teen by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Helping Teens Manage Their Anger by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Parenting Through Mental Health Challenges and a Global Health Crisis by Betsy at Betsyjewell.com with Dr. Marcia Morris  (This is a podcast as well as a blog post.)

Natural Stress Relievers for Teens by Miranda at The Reluctant Cowgirl

School Angst

Here are some basic tips to help teens with school stress…

  1. Have a schedule
  2. Use a planner or some sort of calendar
  3. Start big projects early-as in right away!
  4. Create a dedicated work space
  5. Talk to the teacher
  6. Get a tutor
  7. Prioritize work by date due and amount of work that will be needed

Here are my friends’ tips for dealing with school stress…

Helping Kids to Thrive As They Adjust to Distance Learning by Betsy at Betsyjewell.com with Kellyann Rohr  (This is a podcast as well as a blog post.)

Ways That You Can Help Your Teen With Finals (Or School Stress in General!) by me

Model behaviors to help a stressed out teen

Stress is a factor every day in our teens’ lives. School, work, family, money, dating relationships, the list is endless. We need to model behaviors that are positive for our teens to emulate. We need to practice self-care, so that we can help meet their needs and show that it’s a great stress management tool.

Let’s help our teens to fill their toolboxes with strategies for dealing with stress today and any other time that will be stressful in the future.

Here is a great post on coping with all this as a mom from my friend Miranda at The Reluctant Cowgirl.

Here is a post that I wrote about self-care under the best of times, but is great for now because there are tiny doable things that you can do to have a better day, every day!

Here are some affirmations to get us through these days from my friend Shannon at Skip To My Life

Conversation can help

We have time now because everyone is at home. The thing is that we should always make time to have conversations. Our teens are only with us for a limited amount of time-the countdown has started for them to leave for college or a job or the military or one of a million things.

Remember to grab your copy of the stress reliever chart here!

Use the time that you have with your kids to have some of these important conversations about making their future a better place to be. Help you teen to have an advantage by discussing important tips that will help them no matter what is going on in the world.

The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School by me

5 Easy Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen by me

Things to Know If You Love a Teenager by me

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter below for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

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How To Get Ready For College: Read College Bound Now!

How To Get Ready For College: Read College Bound Now!

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How to get ready for college – have conversations with your teens.

When I was young, and I loved reading the Little House books, I thought that I would write a story about a pioneer family. It turns out that I have a lot to say about parenting teens. So, I wrote about how to get ready for college using conversations with your teens.

Have you got a teen or two in your house? For awhile, we had three teenage boys. Our oldest two are now in their 20s, and we have survived so far.

One thing that we have used in our parenting journey is conversation. It has helped us to answer the question, “How to get ready for college?” Lots of talking  about lots of topics. Here’s a link to another post, 5 Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen.

College Bound came about as a way for me to give back to other parents. My husband and I struggled to find our way parenting our teens with no real road map in our hands.

There is no “what to expect” when your teen is 13 or 15 or 18….! We also wondered about the answers for, “How to get ready for college?”

We stumbled onto a system of having regular conversations with our teens. It has really worked for each of our boys, and they are all as different as they can be.

*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.

Grab the Conversation freebies here! I realized since publishing my book that I left out the questions and conversation starters for the end of each conversation-ugggh! So, here is a link to that list of questions.

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How to get ready for college|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

Did we use magic?

Many of you might scratch your head and wonder how it is that we got our teenage boys to talk. It was not magic, if that’s what you’re wondering.

We started these “talks” when the boys were younger, always around the time that their grades arrived home. This occurred about every six weeks. You too, can talk to your teens.

The beauty of this system was that it happened regularly. The boys knew that when their grades came home, we would soon be setting up a time to meet with each of them one-on-one.

(And, just so you know, our expectations were that they get all As and Bs. The occasional C was only ok if they were trying their hardest in a subject that was hard for them.)  They knew that whether or not we were pleased with their grades, a meeting would occur.

It was amazing how many times we had to tell them to do better in school-still do to this day! It was a good and regular interval of time to have these conversations. Our teens could talk about all sorts of things that were going on in their lives at that particular time in their lives.

Keep in mind that my husband and I are not parenting experts. Far from it. However, we have gotten one kid out of his teens and out of college. Another is finishing his associate’s degree, and our baby is a sophomore in high school.

This has been a fun, but challenging journey. I hope that some of what has worked for us will work for you!

How to prepare for college life or whatever else is to come

I broke College Bound into 14 conversations. They range in topics from setting up a college budget, obtaining letters of recommendation, contacting colleges with questions to finding scholarships, and more.

Each chapter covers a conversation, why each is important, different things to think about, and how to talk about each topic.

There are many other conversations with your teens that need to occur, but for the sake of the book, these topics were the ones I felt were the most important when thinking about college and life prep.

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Will these topics matter if my child decides not to attend college?

Yes. All of these topics matter because if your child decides to go into the military, get a job, or go to trade school a resume will always be a good thing to leave high school with. Grades and test scores will matter. Maybe not to the degree as getting into college, but the real world is competitive.

The better your teen looks coming out of high school compared to the next guy who is applying for the same program, the better their chances for getting that job or higher rank or whatever!

Have you grabbed my high school parent toolkit yet? It is a blueprint for staying organized through all four high school years! Get it here!

Isn’t this common sense?

A lot of it is common sense. When we first started out in these teen years with our oldest, the amount of things that we did not know was overwhelming.

This book was born out of frustration with not knowing what to ask or even who to ask about parenting teens or how to get ready for college. Counselors at high schools are awesome, but totally overworked. They are also usually trying to help those kids with no support systems in place.

It seemed like other parents had the same questions as we had. So, between my husband and I, we started researching and asking questions to anyone who looked like they might have an answer. I read books, Googled a lot of things, and we both asked parents with older teens what had worked for them.

Have lots of conversations with your teens!

We talked with our kids a lot. Note the use of “with” and not “to”. Of course, there were times that we did talk to our kids, but we really wanted to engage them in conversation.

There were times that it seemed like our conversations were going nowhere fast, but then one of the boys would make a decision that made sense. Or one of them would tell us something that gave us a glimpse into the fact that maybe we were making some sort of headway into this parenting thing.

Parenting teens is NOT for the faint of heart. It takes consistency, patience, and stamina to say the least. Remember that many, if not all, of these conversations will need to take place gradually. Start where you are.

Having conversations with teens is not for the faint of heart!

If none of these topics have been discussed before, then choose one. Talk with your spouse or significant other first to make sure you are in agreement or at least know where you each stand.

Teens are super smart and will be able to tell if you guys are not of the same mind. They will use this to their advantage every time, so be prepared!

Do not try to talk about all of this at once! Have discussions a little at a time, and spread them out. It would be really easy to overwhelm both you and your teen.

Weekly dose of parenting encouragement

The key is to just start.

Just because your teen might not be talking to you at this moment, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start these conversations. Try to find some common ground. Call a truce. Talk about starting this in the context of making plans.

Most teens are wanting to talk about the future, they are feeling lots of mixed emotions. They are scared, excited, overwhelmed, and usually have many questions if given the right situation.

These conversations with your teens are for them to start the process of preparing to leave your home. These are all topics that need to be covered in most situations.

Set some goals together. Make the time. Remember not to lecture, but have discussions. Let your teen talk and ask questions. Try not to interrupt.

My teen thinks that they know it all…

I feel your pain. Have them do some research about the thing or things of which they are trying to convince you. This has worked for us, a lot. We had one son, who really thought he knew a lot about a lot.

He is super smart, but through his research online and asking around, he realized that maybe we knew a few things as well. This was something that we let him discover over time on his own.

We also have learned so much about parenting teens. Our teens were smarter and more responsible than we had given them credit for. Patience was something that we had to use in all of these conversations.

We learned how and when to shelf a discussion for later without everyone getting mad–not always, but most of the time. There is also the fact that our teens have so much going on in their lives, that they really appreciated these times to debrief and make plans.

Try to have some conversations with your teens!

Set up a time to have a conversation with your teen. Let them know when and why you are wanting to do this. Tell them that there will be time for them to talk about things that they want to talk about as well.

Start out short and sweet. See what works, and what doesn’t. Each child and each conversation will be different. Take notes. Try again soon. Grab my book, College Bound now!

You will hopefully find that your relationship with your teen will improve. It won’t always be great, but in general, your kids will talk more in every day situations than they used to. They will have more questions.

Teens want to plan for their own future, and you will find out that it is really fun to do this! Grab my three freebies for this system here. They are:

1. Template for keeping notes from each conversation.

2. Conversation starters.

3. Tips for success when starting this plan.

Download these freebies to help talk with your teen about college

There may be more going on with your teen than you think. Talking with them will hopefully help to bridge that gap, if there is one, between you and your teen.

If there is more going on than you can handle, here is the link to a good post about your teen and drugs. If you think that your teen may be depressed, check out this link for more information.

Share any ideas that you have that might help the rest of us! About parenting or how to get ready for college or anything! I can’t wait to hear what works for you. Remember to get College Bound here.

Related posts:  Our 2 1/2 Rules for Raising Teens5 Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen, 7 Things to Know If You Love a Teenager  and 6 Books You Should Read If You Are Parenting Teens!

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube 

I look forward to seeing you again!

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Best Valentine’s Gifts to Give and Get For Teens

Best Valentine’s Gifts to Give and Get For Teens

Valentine Fun!

Valentine’s Day can be such a fun time for teens. Even for teens that do not have a special “other person”, giving gifts to a bestie or other friends can be fun! Finding the best Valentine’s gifts can be a lot of fun, and there are many great activities as well that I list at the bottom for fun!

We encourage our boys to give gifts at least to us and their grandparents, even if it is just a card. These can mean a lot, especially if they are homemade!

Showing someone that you care is a life lesson, and there is no better time than Valentine’s Day to make sure that this happens!

Encourage your teens to reach out to someone or many someones with a message of friendship and/or love.

I put together the following list of Valentine’s gifts with help from my boys and my middle school students. These vary in price from just a few dollars up to a lot -most are really inexpensive items of less than $25. Our teens need to remember that it is the thought that counts more than anything.

*This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. My full disclosure policy is here.

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Best Valentine’s Gifts!

Red or pink nail polish

Heart boxers

Heart pillow

 Giant hersheys kiss

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” ―Eleanor Roosevelt

Pink earrings

Heart sweatshirt

Love dish

Shaving kit

Heart mug

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ―H. Jackson Brown Jr.


Heart magnets

Heart shaped sunglasses

Leather ear pod case


Pink candle

Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” ―Ben Carson

Weekly dose of parenting encouragement

Pink or red tassel earrings

Personalized pocket knife

Heart socks

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ―Pablo Picasso


Heart jammies

Bedshelfie

Nintendo switch

Heart shaped box – Use these to create something beautiful to then fill with some other gift for your Valentine.

Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” —Booker T. Washington

Photo box explosion album -My son got one of these for Christmas from his girlfriend! It is so cute! She did say that it took some time to put together.

Some fun activities for spending time together on this special day!

•Watch some movies about love! Then, make some Valentine’s popcorn and enjoy a date night!

•Make heart shaped cakes, pancakes, waffles or cookies– Here are some links to recipes.

       Cupid floats, 20 Valentine cookie recipes, 14 Valentine’s dinner ideas

•Set out some simple Valentine’s Day decorations – Some links to fun decor…

      V-day decorations round-up, Dollar Store decor for Valentine’s, Valentine’s vignettes

•Create a Valentine tree -I think these DIY twig trees are so cute! This one is cute, too.

•Write someone love notes and/or coupons -you get to choose what to offer.

•Spend one on one time with your teens -watch movies, play games, take a walk… Here’s the link to  a post my friend wrote about creating a fun day with her teenage daughter!

•Get them their own box of candy -always a favorite!

•Hot chocolate bar with these cute supplies -Here’s a great Idea for a charcuterie board, and an easy recipe for crockpot hot chocolate.

•Decorate your teen’s door with fun Valentine’s stuff or do some homemade hearts with personal messages!

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter below for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

Related posts: 25 Valentine Movies, Best Easter Baskets for Teens, Best Graduation Gifts: The Ultimate Guide

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