Book reviews - teenage

Here I have reviewed books for teenagers and pre-teens which will help at times when they are making changes in their lives. Fiction for teens is reviewed in our fiction section.

The You Are Awesome Journal by Matthew Syed

Subtitled Dare to find your confidence (and maybe even change the world), this book is packed with activities inspired by the no. 1 bestseller You Are Awesome (see further down this page for my review). This interactive journal is full of life hacks, challenges and activities to give confidence to do whatever you want, all written in an approachable and friendly way. Whether setting out their goals, planning the best practice ever, keeping calm with breathing exercises or making paper aeroplanes to understand marginal gains, readers will love the brilliant activities in The You Are Awesome Journal. Teens are often reluctant to share their thoughts and feelings aloud, but they may be far more inclined to write them down, and by so doing, anxiety may well be alleviated, making this book very valuable. An excellent confidence builder and an inspirational guide that encourages teens to believe that anything is possible with determination and application..

The Teenage Guide to Life Online by Nicola Morgan

Today's teens (and many adults) spend much time on the internet. This book gives a balanced perspective on the consequences - good and bad. at what happens to us all – young and old – when we spend time online. Starting with a brief history of the web she then explores key topics including fake news, cyberbullying, social media and online privacy. Current research into how the internet and screen-use affect our ability to concentrate, our mood and sleep patterns is used to good effect in the book. This timely guide will also be a real asset to teachers seeking to help their pupils keep themselves safe online, with its practical tips and the way it looks at issues from a teen perspective. I recommend it to all who are affected by the issues - teens themselves (and that's most of them in our society), parents and teachers.

The Book of No Worries by Lizzie Cox

We are well aware that anxiety and depression is on the increase for our young people. The transition from childhood to pre-teen and teen years can be a challenge for many of our young people, and they need (and deserve) all the help we can give them. The majority will be facing the transition to a bigger school with the associated pressure to get good grades, as well as forming new friendships. Today's young people also have to cope with the pressures and dangers of social media. Add to that the non-stop nature of social media and the added pressure that it brings and it’s no surprise anxiety and depression is on the increase. This approachable book with its humorous text aim is reassuringly written for tweens to show them that they are not alone; that their worries and fears are normal. Illustrated with cartoon-style drawings and set out in a straightforward way, it's full of practical tips and advice; 'Worry Busters' are a feature of this. Tweens will readily identify with the case studies and questions from 'real-life' anonymous readers. Sensitively written, this provides a good starting point for handling issues and will hopefully engender discussion.

Getting Things Done for Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World by David Allen, Mike Williams and Mark Wallace

Today's teens face huge pressures as a result of being the most interconnected generation in history. This is, obviously, a new situation and, as yet, insufficient knpwledge is available to handle the pressures effectively. The situation is changing as greater understanding develops, and this book is evidence of that. Getting Things Done for Teens will help to train the next generation to overcome these obstacles and flourish by coaching them to use the internationally renowned Getting Things Done methodology. This book adapts the lessons of GTD methodology, framing life as a game to play and GTD as the game pieces and strategies to play the most effective game. It presents GTD in a highly visual way, making it accessible for everyone, and frames the methodology as not only as a system for being productive in school, but as a set of tools for everyday life. The book claims that it will help teens cope with a range of activities, plan projects, chart and monitor goals, and give confidence in all areas of life.

So Awkward Scrapbook: The official book of the hit CBBC show!

Life as a teen can be troublesome, as this book, and the successful TV series so accurately reflects. The series follows the school life of Lily, Martha, Jas and friends. They are puzzling their way through the teenage years, hindered by embarrassing parents and incompetent teachers. It's a fun guide to teen lifestyle which really homes in on what concerns teens. Full of sensible practical advice, presented in a user-friendly approachable way, this book is a treasure trove of useful information to help teens navigate their lives. It's full of humour and the presentation is varied and engaging - perfect to dip into after a hard day at school! The book includes plenty of information about the fourth series, showing in Summer 2018. A fascinating read.

You Are Awesome: Find Your Confidence and Dare to be Brilliant at (Almost) Anything by Matthew Syed

Teens and tweens don't find it easy to talk about things they feel are holding them back; this empowering book gives them the opportunity to find out for themselves how to become awesome and tackle tasks they felt were impossible. It will encourage their confidence and help them to discuss their ambitions. Does your youngster express negative thoughts about their abilities? Then they need this book! It inspires and empowers young readers to find the confidence to realise their potential, building up their self-belief. Full of examples of successful people from Mozart to Serena Williams, it demonstrates that success really is earned rather than given - and that everyone can develop talents through determination, positive thoughts, practice and self-belief and, most importantly, a Growth Mindset. The accessible writing style, with plenty of visual material makes the book easy to read, even for reluctant readers. The book opens young peoples' minds to the possibilities of change, enabling them to fulfil their potential right through to adulthood. Practical common-sense advice that will stand everyone in good stead.

Positively Teenage: A positively brilliant guide to teenage well-being by Nicola Morgan

Sadly, the teen years are often portrayed negatively, but this book helps to redress the balance and show the positives. The teen years offer so much and this book helps cope with challenge, enjoy life and achieve potential. The book speaks directly to teens, recognising the issues they face and giving plenty of positive encouragement. Straightforward strategies, tried and tested, help develop a positive attitude, growth mindset, self-understanding, determination and resilience. Physical and mental health has a key part to play and is not forgotten in the book. Throughout the book there are positive boosts - simple ideas which will enhance well-being and positive thinking simply and quickly. The lively presentation, easy readability and plenty of visual material all add up to an approachable, accessible and motivating book which will be dipped into throughout early teen years, and continue to have a lasting and positive impact.

A Guide to Growing Up: Honest Conversation About Puberty, Sex And God by Sarah Smith

This open and honest book will enlighten teens and encourage them to open up about their concerns. The book gives God's view about the topics of puberty, bodies, sex, faith, relationships, love and boundaries. Full of unusual and expressive illustrations that grab the attention, teens will find this book approachable and friendly, written in a way they will enjoy and which does not patronise. There are detailed chapters on topics which teens may find hard to discuss. A Guide to Growing Up is a useful tool to support parents in talking to their teens, and in encouraging young people to open up. Direct, honest and sensitive - a useful book for all young people and those who work with them. There are plenty of discussion oportunities opened up by the book and these will prove valuable.

The Careers Handbook from DK

It's a confusing world out there for anyone trying to make a career choice but with the aid of this excellent book, young people (and older ones too) can find out exactly what every job involves. Presented in a succinct but highly informative manner, every type of job is included - the range is phenomenal but the book is handily split into helpful sub-sections. Job description, at a glance, skills guide, related jobs and career paths are all included. It's easy to see what skills and qualifications are required, with easy-to-use infographics to help. With DK's normal excellent presentation, despote the sheer volume of information, it's very user-friendly. Every school and college careers library should have a copy and it's affordable enough for home use - it's the sort of book you can just dip into and, who knows, you might come up with a whole new career!

Student Essentials: Revision and Exam Strategies (In One Hour series) by Mary Wickham

No student wants to spend hours reading a book telling them how to revise, when all they want to go is get on with this revision. So this practical and jargon-free guide which takes just an hour to read is perfect. It shows students how to easily master the key revision and exam strategies with advice, useful checklists and exercises covering every key area, from structuring revision time, performance planning and applying knowledge in exam conditions. Written in short easy to assimilate sections, the book covers getting started, using revision resources and types of exams. I especially like Section 2, which focuses on the different learning types and ensures there is good advice for everyone, whatever their learning style. There is practical guidance on what to do immediately before and during the exam - and after. Good use is made of tables and diagrams. Succinct, not in the least preachy, and full of practical, easy to apply advice, this is an excellent book which will be useful from KS3 right up to the end of school, and even beyond, as the principles will always apply.

Choosing Your GCSEs: Also includes Diplomas, NVQs, BTECs and more! by Alan Vincent

In recent years, it has become a much more complex exercise to choose courses at school - not only do students have to choose their subjects but they can also choose from a range of qualifications. With so much depending on it, it's a tough decision. Help is at hand with this practical book which clearly sets out all your options. It includes up-to-date (as of 2010) detailed information about GCSEs, the new 14-19 diplomas, vocational courses such as BTECS, OCR Nationals and NVQs, work-related learning, young apprenticeships and Key Skills. With plenty of practical tips and advice which will help students pick the right course for them, this takes an excellent overall view of all the options. Each qualification is explained, with useful guidelines on the amount of work expected. Subjects for GCSE are discussed in detail, so pupils will understand exactly how the subject will be taught and assessed. Particularly useful is the extensive use of references for further information - having got an overview from this book, pupils can then do further research before reaching a final decision. The final major section is on diplomas and parengts will also find this useful, as they will probably not have come across these before; it helps to show what subjects should be studied to pursure specific careers. A practical book for home and school use.

Choosing Your A Levels: and other academic options by Cerys Evans

Students face many choices and it may seem that as soon as they have made GCSE choices, A Level choices are looming. My advice would be to get a copy of this book while making GCSE choices (hopefully, with the help of the book reviewed above). It is crucial to make the right choices right through KS4 and these impact on A Levels, so be prepared. The book provides all the information students will need including guidance on choosing the right qualification and indications of what the different qualifications can lead to. There is a practical and extensive directory of subjects by qualification for quick reference plus exam tips and preparation to ease the pressure. It provides an excellent overview with plenty of links to further information. Well written, well laid out and easy to find information, this will be a valuable book for all prospective A Level students. The practical tips are a particularly useful part of the book.

52 Teen Boy Problems & How To Solve Them (Problem Solved) by Alex Hooper-Hodson

There are times when separate books for boys and girls work better, and this is one of them! Alex Hooper-Hodson is an Agony Uncle, relationship expert, journalist and blogger, The thousands of letters he received can, surprisingly, be related to 52 main issues from first sexual relationships, dealing with spots, how to avoid Facebook mistakes, how drink, drugs and on-line gaming can affect lives - to the social and emotional aspects of family, friends and relationships. The practical advice leaves teens to make their own informed decisions.

Girls: 52 Teen Girl Problems & How To Solve Them (Problem Solved) by Alex Hooper-Hodson

Using a 'Problem Page' format Alex explores the key issues that today's teens face. It's a friendly approach which will appeal to the younger end of the teen market, for whom these books are intended. Honest and down-to-earth, these are good books for parents to leave around for their teens; not preachy, just practical. The attractive presentation is a bonus.

The A-Z of Growing Up, Puberty and Sex by Lesley de Meza

The perfect ready-reference guide for older kids and teenagers to get the information they need on growing up, puberty and sex. Many books of this type are written either for boys or girls, so this has a real strength in that it covers both , enabling teens to have a greater understanding of the opposite sex. Ideal to leave around so teenagers can find an authorative answer to all those questions they are embarrassed to ask. The author's experience as a leading practitioner, trainer and author known internationally for her PSHE education work guarantees that the book is appropriate for its audience.

The Smart Girl's Guide to Life (Smart Girls Guides) by Sally Morgan

Approachable and fun to read, The Smart Girl's Guide to Life is the essential guide to navigating the tricky and unexpected moments in life. Perfect for teen and 'tween' girls moving from primary to secondary school, this book is filled with practical and friendly advice about money, careers, boys and self-confidence. All the topics girls want to know about are covered; they don't always want to talk to their friends or family about issues of concern, so the sound advice presented here will be reassuring and hopefully give confidence to talk further if concerns aren't answered. The lively and varied presentation makes for an enjoyable read.

How to be a Girl by Anita Naik

How To Be A Girl examines exactly what it means to be a girl today. It looks at everything from the everyday niggles and pressures of being a girl, such as body hair (and how to deal with it), judgements made on physical appearance and intelligence, and the double standards that affect girls and who they become. The book deals with everything from the reasons why girls put themselves under enormous pressure to conform to a 'beauty ideal', it raises awareness of the sexualisation of girls in the media and music industries, and issues such as weight and plastic surgery. The practical advice empowers girls to make decisions and stand by them.

The Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan

Teens today are living in a complex world and many, sometimes without realising it, are suffering from stress. Written by a highly experienced author, clearly book explains the biology behind stress and offers a huge range of practical strategies to cope with it and prevent negative symptoms. Often, teens are reluctant to discuss or raise their problems with parents or other adults. By leaving a copy of this book around for them to read in their own time, parents can be sure they are being given sound advice and hopefully the book will encourage them to open up and discuss their problems, especially because they will know they are not alone or unusual. On the other hand, adults who are caring for stressed teens should read this book themselves, to gain an insight into the issues. Reassuring and comprehensive, this is an excellent practical guide.

Teen Life Confidential: Queen Bees, Drama Queens & Cliquey Teens by Anita Naik

This is a great series for teens - the eye-catching titles immediately show that the authors are in tune with today's teens, their language and their culture. This will reassure readers that the authors know what they are talking about and understand their lives. Friendships can be problematic for teens and this handy book gives advice on everything from how to cope with the bullies and mean girls at school, to how to be a better friend yourself. Often, a lack of self-confidence is an issue and the 8 ways to empower yourself guide helps here. Practical and easy-to-read, this is an important topic well described.

Teen Life Confidential: Texts, Tweets, Trolls and Teens by Anita Naik

We can't fail to know about the problems that technology brings alongside its indisputable benefits. Social networking and the vast array of material for download are both exciting and worrying - this practical book looks at the online world from simple texting behaviour to how to deal with the negative side gives a rounded picture. It covers how young people use tech, what is social media, the issues of privacy, and the negatives of online life. A lively writing style and amusing cartoon drawings make the book approachable and enjoyable.

I Just Want to be ... ME!: Building Resilience in Young People by Timothy and Sandra Bowden

Today's children struggle with a range of issues, from depression and anxiety to poor body image and low self-esteem and research shows many suffer mental health issues. "Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been proven to be effective in teaching young people effective, flexible strategies for dealing with the stressors in their life and these principles are now brought to life in this graphic novel. By following the main character, Holly, through her encounters with monsters (symbolising her inner doubts and unpleasant thoughts), children will learn how to similarly deal with their own issues and develop a more resilient mental attitude and achieve better emotional balance." I have chosen to give a factual review which is based on the publisher's information, as I do not have the expertise to recommend or otherwise a particular method, so the facts are here for you to make your own decision.

I Just Get So... Angry!: Dealing with Anger and Other Strong Emotions for Teenagers by Timothy and Sandra Bowden

Teenagers struggle with a wide range of emotions - research suggests that at any given time around 10% of students will be suffering from a mental health issue. This graphic novel is based on the techniques of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) which claims to develop effective, flexible coping skills that will build their mental resilience and equip teens to deal with life's challenges. This graphic novel follows the boy on a journey of self-discovery as he learns how to stand up to his own emotional Beast, and teaches adolescents these all-important techniques in an easily accessible way. I have chosen to give a factual review which is based on the publisher's information, as I do not have the expertise to recommend or otherwise a particular method, so the facts are here for you to make your own decision.

Being a Boy by James Dawson

James Dawson is an acclaimed YA author and former PSHCE teacher who knows just how to approach his audience. Topics include navigating the social scene, learning about sex and relationships, looking good, puberty and much more. Witty text paired with over 50 hilarious black-and-white illustrations by Spike Gerrell makes this an essential guide to growing up - a great book for parents to quietly leave in a teen son's room. The writing style is up-front, frank and down-to-earth and perfectly geared to its audience, who may not be the keenest of readers. It encourages boys to be confident in and true to themselves and not to be swayed by hype; it is all tinged with humour, making a readable and enjoyable book.

Keep Your Cool: How to Deal with Life's Worries and Stress by Dr. Aaron Balick

Written in a way that will appeal to today's teens, this practical and informative - and reassuring - book is ideal for those who agonise over life and achieving what they want. It handles issues such as bullying, family strife and exam panic and has a range of really practical and easy-to-use advice on handling those situations which are so common today. The layoutis bright and appealing with lots of humorous cartoons and the whole book is pitched at the perfect level, showing a real insight into the problems teens face and the way they feel.  I think parents should read it too, so they can put the ideas into practice and gain a greater understanding of their teenager.

The A-Z of Growing Up, Puberty and Sex by Lesley de Meza

The perfect ready-reference guide for older kids and teenagers to get the information they need on growing up, puberty and sex. Many books of this type are written either for boys or girls, so this has a real strength in that it covers both , enabling teens to have a greater understanding of the opposite sex. Ideal to leave around so teenagers can find an authorative answer to all those questions they are embarrassed to ask. The author's experience as a leading practitioner, trainer and author known internationally for her PSHE education work guarantees that the book is appropriate for its audience.

Bullies, Cyberbullies and Frenemies (Teen Life Confidential) by Michele Elliot

This is an excellent series for teens. It answers many of the questions they have, but which they are perhaps reluctant to raise with parents or peers. Reading the books gives them the opportunity to consider the very practical advice for themselves and therefore they are able to approach issues from a more informed standpoint. There is sensible advice on handling bullying. Frenemies - what they are and how to deal with them; making friends and maintaining self-respect; what do do for yourself to help if you are the one doing the bullying - all these are included. The contemporary issue of cyberbullying is particularly well-handled and gives very useful advice on coping with this unpleasant but ever-increasing issue. The author is founder of Kidscape, so her advice can be trusted.

Sex, Snogs, Dates and Mates (Teen Life Confidential) by Anita Naik

This approachable guide answers many questions teens have about sex and relationships. How to deal with dating and build good relationships; how to know when you're ready to have sex - and how to resist pressure and say no. From periods and puberty, crushes and contraception to health and harrassment, this is highly recommended for school libraries. The lively presentation is ideal for the age group, with amusing cartoons and a very readable and friendly approach.

Bringing Up Your Parents by John Farman

Most teens don't seem to believe their parents went through the same things as them, so this witty book will help them to appreciate some of the things parents say and do. It does not talk down at all and the amusing way things are presented will help teenagers to see things from their parents' point of view. There are plenty of ideas of defusing potentially difficult situations and all the advice in the book is just as valuable to the parent as to the teen - parents should read it to learn what's important in the life of today's teens. Lots of scenarios are used, with helpful suggestions, which really show an understanding of what concerns today's teenagers. Your teen probably won't want to admit to reading this book, so why not casually leave a copy lying around? I always found the bathroom to be a good place!

 The Sex Factor: the Essential Teen Guide by Kate Johnson

Sex is a hot topic for teens and as parents, we want to ensure our children know all the facts, not just half the story or incorrect information picked up from friends. This is a down -to-earth book helps teens find out what sex is all about, in a factual non-sensational manner. It's written in a way that will appeal to young people - it does not talk down to them but answers questions on a wide range of related topics in a practical and informative manner. Sometimes, teens don't want to discuss things, so have a copy of this book around so they can have a read for themselves.

 Gap Years - the Essential Guide by Emma Jayne Jones

Taking a Gap Year has become very popular but there is so much to take into account that it is hard to know where to start. This practical guide from Need 2 Know Books covers all the basics in an accessible and easy to read form. It starts with a useful section on Practicalities - ideal for families to discuss together. Types of Gap Year, Health and Safety and money are discussed and then there is a chapter on each continent. The book does not gloss over potential problems but discusses them and gives solutions. Emma Jayne Jones is well qualified to write this guide - she has visited over 40 countries.

 Leaving Home - the Essential Guide by Glynis Kozma

There are so many things for youngsters to think about when they leave home. Can I afford it? Should I rent or buy? What do I need to buy? All these are covered and give an excellent starting point for discussion between parents and their teenagers. Practical issues are covered - safety, home maintenance, health (both physical and emotional) and finances. As with all Need 2 Know guides, the book is easy to read - either to dip in and out or to read it right through. Key points highlighted on the sides of the pages, as in all these guides, are useful reminders.


The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.


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