Best Graduation Gifts

Do you have a child or friend (or niece or nephew) graduating this year? Here are some great gift ideas for your graduate.

Best Graduation Gifts

Best Graduation gifts1. Mushroom Green Zero Wall Travel Charger

Graduates will love this travel charger because they will be on the road back and forth from college or new jobs a lot. The GreenZero technology eliminates wasteful stand-by consumption energy because it automatically shuts off with zero idle power when device is fully charged. It also has a cool design in addition to being functional. Every graduate nowadays have tons of devices, so get them something they can juice up with!

2. Netbook

A netbook is a smaller lighter laptop. Perfect for college students who want to take notes in class and haul their computer all over campus. This netbook is a great one because it is not too expensive (especially for a computer) in case it is spilled on or dropped but has all the functions a college student would need.

3. Subscription to The Week

This is what I got my sister for her High School graduation. The Week is one of my favorite magazines and I look forward to getting it every Saturday. It is a magazine of all of the news from around the world that week. Graduates need to be up on current events and what is happening in the world. This is a great way to stay up on news in a digestible format.

4. Cashflow Game! 

This is one of the most amazing games I have ever played. Graduates are going to be on their own for the first time and they need to learn about finances, budgeting and how money works in the real world. The Cashflow Game was actually designed to teach financial literacy in a more fun way. It is played at business schools around  the country. If you can give your child the gift of financial smarts, there is nothing better for them to have before starting life on their own.

5. iPad

If you are feeling really generous you can get your graduate an iPad which they can use to read, take notes on and even video chat with you from school! Students can now get their textbooks on the iPad and take notes on them right there. There also a number of academic apps students can use for vocab, library and testing–not to mention some of the fun ones like Netflix and Boggle.

They also might have something on their list that they really need or want. Be sure to ask and see if you can chip in with other family members for a bigger gift.

Congratulations!

Have you seen our other top picks? 

Best Parenting Books for Parents of Teens

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These books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

We have selected our favorite books for parents of teens. Our teenagers read current parenting books looking for ones that contained relevant, applicable advice that would work with them. Here is what they chose:

Best Books for Parents of Teens:

Get Out of My Life…. but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall? by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D

A parent’s Guide to today’s teenager. Dr. Wolf does a great job telling stories and relating advice for parents.

Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?: Stop Fighting, Start Talking, and Get to Know Your Teen by Vanessa Van Petten

A shameless plug, of course our teens were happy to review this parenting book, written by a teen for teens and their parents.  Traditional, and dare we say radical tips from the founder of Radical Parenting.

Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We’re Going to Grandma’s: Hanging In, Holding On and Letting Go of Your Teen by Carleton Kendrick

This book is a reassuring antidote to today’s epidemic of negative teen stereotypes, a collection of real-life, inspiring and amusing stories from the true experts – POAs, parents of adolescents. Nosering helps you stay lovingly connected with your teens while remaini

Best General Parenting Books:

NurtureShock: New ThinkingAbout Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This is an amazing book for parents that uses scientific studies to bust parenting myths and help give tools that actually work.

Scream Free Parenting by Jenny Runkel

ScreamFree Parenting is a new approach to parenting that parents rave about. The focus is on creating responsible, caring adults through improving your relationship with your child rather than just trying to “get them” to do the right thing. It contains universal principles, which teach parents to become the calm, cool, and connected influencers in their homes rather than trying to simply be game wardens or gate keepers.

Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes our Souls by Gary L. Thomas

Sacred Parenting is unlike any other parenting book you have ever read. This is not a “how-to” book that teaches you ways to discipline your kids or help them achieve their full potential. Instead of discussing how parents can change their kids, Sacred Parenting turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses our kids to change us.

Real Love and Real Love in Parenting by Greg Baer, M.D.

Greg Baer holds nothing back. Some of what he says might feel a little harsh, but can be a real wake up call to be REAL about our responsibilities and our role in our kids’ lives. Tweens and Teens of parents applying these principles will love the change they see in their parents and how they feel happier, receive more respect, autonomy, and skills to prepare them for a lifetime of powerfully REAL relationships and happiness.

Just Tell Me What To Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts For Perplexed Parents by Betsy Brown Braun

This book provides hands-on, just give-it-to-me-straight tools so that parents gain the skills and confidence they need to handle the sometimes challenging situations that inevitably accompany raising children ages 2-6 and beyond. Hailed by the New York Times as a “parenting guru,” Braun’s down-to-earth advice is derived from her expertise working with thousands of children (from toddlers to teens) and parents for over three decades.

Have you seen our other top picks? 

Best Books for Parents

best-parenting-book-badge1We love supporting authors and readers and we have selected our top five books for parents in each of the following categories:

Best Books for Parents of All Ages:

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This is an amazing book for parents that uses scientific studies to bust parenting myths and help give tools that actually work.

Scream Free Parenting by Jenny Runkel

ScreamFree Parenting is a new approach to parenting that parents rave about. The focus is on creating responsible, caring adults through improving your relationship with your child rather than just trying to “get them” to do the right thing. It contains universal principles, which teach parents to become the calm, cool, and connected influencers in their homes rather than trying to simply be game wardens or gate keepers.

Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes our Souls by Gary L. Thomas

Sacred Parenting is unlike any other parenting book you have ever read. This is not a “how-to” book that teaches you ways to discipline your kids or help them achieve their full potential. Instead of discussing how parents can change their kids, Sacred Parenting turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses our kids to change us.

Real Love and Real Love in Parenting by Greg Baer, M.D.

Greg Baer holds nothing back. Some of what he says might feel a little harsh, but can be a real wake up call to be REAL about our responsibilities and our role in our kids’ lives. Tweens and Teens of parents applying these principles will love the change they see in their parents and how they feel happier, receive more respect, autonomy, and skills to prepare them for a lifetime of powerfully REAL relationships and happiness.

Just Tell Me What To Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts For Perplexed Parents by Betsy Brown Braun

This book provides hands-on, just give-it-to-me-straight tools so that parents gain the skills and confidence they need to handle the sometimes challenging situations that inevitably accompany raising children ages 2-6 and beyond. Hailed by the New York Times as a “parenting guru,” Braun’s down-to-earth advice is derived from her expertise working with thousands of children (from toddlers to teens) and parents for over three decades.

Best Books for Parents of Teens:

Get Out of My Life…. but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall? by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D

A parent’s Guide to today’s teenager. Dr. Wolf does a great job telling stories and relating advice for parents.

Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?: Stop Fighting, Start Talking, and Get to Know Your Teen by Vanessa Van Petten

A shameless plug, of course our teens were happy to review this parenting book, written by a teen for teens and their parents.  Traditional, and dare we say radical tips from the founder of Radical Parenting.

Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We’re Going to Grandma’s: Hanging In, Holding On and Letting Go of Your Teen by Carleton Kendrick

best books, best books for teens, summer reading, book recommendations for teens
These Books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

This book is a reassuring antidote to today’s epidemic of negative teen stereotypes, a collection of real-life, inspiring and amusing stories from the true experts – POAs, parents of adolescents. Nosering helps you stay lovingly connected with your teens while remaining aware of their goodness, confusion and desperate search for identity.

“Yes Your Teen is Crazy!” by Dr. Mike Bradley

This is an extremely comprehensive book that informs parents about what teens are experiencing both physiologically and psychologically during puberty. Additionally, it teaches parents how to handle all the various challenging situations with which their teens may well present them. It emphasizes parenting with consistency, compassion, concrete acknowledgment of teens’ growing capacity for responsibility and the importance of maintaining a dispassionate demeanor during whatever emotional outbursts or rages parents are confronted.

Blessings of B Minus by Wendy Mogul

This book uses Jewish Principles to teach parents how to raise resilient kids and teens. Even though the principles are from Jewish philosophy this book is really helpful for parents of all religions and backgrounds.

Best Books for Parents of Kids and Tweens

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential by Eileen Kennedy Moore, PhD Mark S Lowenthal, PsyD

I love how this book approaches talking to kids about achievement in success–without pushing perfection. A great read, inspiring stories, and helpful advice.

What Kids REALLY Want to Ask: Using Movies to Start Meaningful Conversations‹A Guidebook for Parents and Children Ages 10-­14 by Rhonda A. Richardson, PhD and A. Margaret Pevec, MA

“What Kids REALLY Want to Ask provides an ingenious, fun, and effective way for parents and young people to connect. And it takes exactly this connection for adult wisdom to flow to kids–and for kids to offer their insights to parents.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 1.13.26 PMSimplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

I love that this book is about simplifying the lives of parents and kids. If you want to strip down to basics and leave a calmer life, this approach to parenting is for you.

Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl

This author is a former teacher and knows exactly how to engage kids to learn and be excited about learning. Her ideas really resonate with both parents and kids.

No Regrets Parenting: Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids by Harley Robart, M.D.

If you are not a big reader, this short and sweet book is for you. With some easy lessons and inspiring moments this book can kickstart your bonding with your kids.

Best Books for Parents with Babies and Toddlers

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky

This book gives step by step advice on the seven skills that your child needs and exactly how to help your child learn them.

Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn – and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D. & Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D.

Play is so important! This book helps parents understand the foundation of learning how important play is to incorporate into your child’s environment.

Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina

I am a big fan of following the latest science and this book gives a great overview of the most important science for a developing brain.

Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t by Suzanne Barston

Food is a hot topic right now and this book gives a great overview into how feeding and motherhood have changed and how these trends are going to effect our children and families.

Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell

Siegel is a prolific author and researcher and his partnership with Hartzell to write this book is a beautiful look into how we can parent from the inside out.

Have you seen our other top picks? 

5 Books to Buy For Your Teen Boy This Summer

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These books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

It is so important to encourage young readers. Teen boys especially are in desperate need of finding and diving into books they love. Here are some popular, adventure filled books that are appealing to teen boy readers.

Pick up these books and let your teen boy fall in love with the stories and the characters!

Our Favorite Books for Teen Boys:

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.04.21 AM1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This trilogy is addictive and has been called the Hunger Games for males. Dashner has captured the spirit, mystery and rebelliousness teen boy readers will love.

Summary of the Maze Runner: Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up in the middle of a maze, with no memory, and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape. But once he escapes, he discovers the outside world is a new and dangerous place.

2. Feed by M. T. Anderson

In the digital age, Anderson has brought new questions about privacy, security and constantly being plugged in to life. If you have a teen boy who loves technology he will love Andreson’s modern thriller, Feed.

Summary of Feed: In the future, most people will have a Feed chip implanted in their heads that connects everyone to an evolved version of the Internet — at the cost of even basic privacy. During spring break on the moon, Titus and Violet meet and build a relationship when their Feeds are hacked.

3. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

One of my favorite books, Farmer takes a reader on a wild ride where you never know what is coming around the page. Main character Matt is relatable and a character you can’t help but route for.

Summary of the House of the Scorpion: In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States. Escape is his only chance to survive — but even that may not save him.

4. I Am The Messenger by Marcus Zusak

Zusak is the acclaimed author of the Book Thief (another amazing read) and this story will appeal to teen boys in its fast-paced, witty style.

Summary of I Am The Messanger: The dull and drab life of Ed, an underage cab driver with a coffee-addicted dog, takes an unexpected turn when he accidentally stops a bank robbery and finds himself being placed in charge of watching out for the entire town.

5. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

This book is for any teen boy who hates rules and authority. Cormier captures the rebellious spirit of the teen male in his book the Chocolate War.

Summary of the Chocolate War: The world of Trinity School is turned upside down when freshman Jerry Renault refuses to sell chocolates for the school’s annual fundraiser. Jerry becomes a nonconformist hero for some — and a target of hatred for others.

Have you seen our other top picks? 

Best Books for Children

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These books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

Here at Radical Parenting, we believe that reading is essential for kids. So every year we pick our favorite books and recommendations for our readers. We comb the web, amazon and reviews looking for the best books for kids and then pick our top recommendations for you.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.31.01 AMFive Classic Books Every Child Should Have:

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

3. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

4. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

5. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Our Five Favorite New Books for Children (Ages 2-7)

1. Let’s Go for a Drive!  By Mo Willems

Good friends Elephant and Piggie’s best plans in preparing to take a drive go awry when they realize they have no car. (A 2013 Geisel Honor Book)

2. Black Dog. By Levi Pinfold

Here’s a story that demonstrates that even the smallest family member has the courage to save everyone. Both the illustrations and the text move from scary to comforting with a satisfying ending.

3. Extra Yarn. By Mac Barnett . Illus. by Jon Klassen

A selfish archduke threatens to halt a little girl’s transformation of a colorless town and steal her box of magical yarn.  (A 2013 Caldecott Honor Book)

4. Oh, No! By Candace Fleming. Illus. by Eric Rohmann

With exuberant rhythmic phrases and jungle colored illustrations, five animals are disturbed by a grinning tiger and fall into a hole, one by one. This suspenseful cumulative tale is an engaging read-aloud.

5. Up, Tall, and High! By Ethan Long

A bevy of birds performs a play in three acts, while teaching the concepts of up, tall, and high. Children will delight in reading additional words hidden beneath thick flaps. (The 2013 Geisel Medal Book)

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.47.07 AMOur Five Favorite New Books for Children (Ages 8-10)

1. A Black Hole Is Not a Hole. By Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano. Illus. by Michael Carroll. Charlesbridge.

Using analogies within a child’s experience, this deceptively clear, engaging introduction to black holes describes, explains, excites, and sparks a sense of wonder.

2. Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. By Audrey Vernick.  Illus. by Steven Salerno. Clarion/Houghton.

The Acerra family had twelve sons who all played baseball together from the time they were children, through World War II, and into adulthood. The story of their camaraderie and positive family attitude is as inspiring as their baseball records. Retro illustrations take readers back to the 1930s and 1940s.

3. Iceberg, Right Ahead!: The Tragedy of the Titanic. By Stephanie Sammartino McPherson. illus. Lerner/Twenty-First Century.

Drawing from official documents, logs, and diaries and illlustrated with plentiful photographs, this well-organized, gripping chronicle records the tragic story, from the original design and construction to the discovery of the ship’s remains and motion picture recreations.

4. Liar & Spy. By Rebecca Stead. Random/Wendy Lamb.

What’s real and what’s deception? This subtle story, with unlikely friendships and secrets to be revealed, will intrigue readers and encourage a second reading.

5. Wonder. By R. J. Palacio. Knopf.

Born with facial deformities, August chooses to attend “regular” school for the first time.  Told from many perspectives, this is a powerful novel about friendship and acceptance.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.50.26 AMOur Five Favorite New Books for Children (Ages 11-14)

Also see our favorite books for young adults and tweens!

1. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. By Sonia Manzano

In 1969 Spanish Harlem, fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is caught in a whirlwind of events led by the revolutionary Young Lords and learns to value her own culture and history. (A 2013 Belpré Author Honor Book)

2. Son. By Lois Lowry

The powerful conclusion of The Giver quartet, Son stands alone as a story of friendship, love, loss, and sacrifice.

3. Temple Grandin: How the Girl who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. By Sy Montgomery

Using interviews, blueprints, and accessible narrative, the author explains the workings of the autistic brain while introducing the life of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman famous for her animal rights advocacy.

4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. By Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This truly universal novel about the friendship of two boys on the edge of manhood addresses issues of identity, friendship, family, and love. (The 2013 Belpré Author Medal Book, a Printz Honor Book, and the Stonewall Award Book)

5. Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. By Candace Fleming

In her clear, readable style, Fleming shows how Earhart captured the public imagination. Chapters of background information alternate with the chilling account of her final flight. Enhanced with maps, archival documents, news photos, and other contemporary sources.

We hope you will consider bringing more books into your own home. Feel free to leave us your favorite books in the comments.

Have you seen our other top picks? 

Best Books for Teens

best-teen-book-badge1

Our teen interns worked very hard reviewing the hundreds of submissions we received for the Best Teen Book contest.

Here are some of the favorite books for fellow teens:

Best Fiction Books for Teens

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

The Uglies series of books are not only intensely thrilling and hard to put down, but also will get teens thinking about larger issues. Scott Westerfield masterfully ties in questions of identity, image and self confidence in his adventure filled book series. For teens who liked the Hunger Games or the Gone series, the Uglies is another classic they won’t want to put down.

TTYL by Lauren Myracle

TTYL, written by Lauren Myracle, is a very unique book.  It is completely written in the instant messages exchanged between the three friends throughout their grade 10 year at high school. This book was very entertaining to read and dealt with hilarious situations. It also deals with the regular teen issues such as popularity, relationships, drinking, and drugs. It is a very quick and fun read as Lauren Myracle is a funny lady who knows how to make teens laugh.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Elsewhere is an extremely impressive book. Although no one knows or will ever know what happens or where one goes following death, Gabrielle Zevin manages to create a completely believable afterlife. It is so realistic that one cannot help but wonder if it is true. It would be a very pleasant way to spend time in the after life. In this world, people who die go to heaven and live quite normal lives with the exception that they age backwards and never grow ill. They get younger instead of older until they become babies, and once more are born as a different person on Earth. The main character, Liz Hall, is learning all of these new things after her unexpected death at 15. She must learn to cope with this new life and let go of her old one while watching her family from heaven.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Another success from Sarah Dessen, this book lives up to reader’s expectations. Just Listen kept me hooked from the beginning until the end, willing me to keep reading. I was very impressed with this book as I am with all of her books. It has an interesting plot, which centers on a high school girl, Annabelle, and her experience with being raped by her best friend’s boyfriend. Along with this terrifying occurrence, her sister suffers from extreme anorexia and over-exercising, and so must go through intensive therapy after almost dying. Annabelle’s life may look perfect from the outside-she’s a model, and was one of the most popular girls at school-but this book reveals her suffering and what she faces every day. Along with its interesting plot, it also incorporates the timeless message of ‘not to judge a book by its cover’.

Slept Away by Julie Kraut

Laney Parker is a city girl through and through. Love this great summer read by the author of Hot Mess.  Teens will love it as Julie Kraut’s voice is young, fun and very relatable to teen girls. Any teenager who has moved will be able to relate to the stories struggling heroine. Great summer or vacation reading!

Best Non-Fiction Books for Teens

The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving The Planet by Jenn Savedge

Today’s teenagers are standing at the crossroads of environmental history and The Green Teen gives them the info they need to minimize their environmental impact at home, at school, and in their communities and get their concerns recognized by school officials, politicians, media, and even their own parents.

Coping with Cliques by Susan Sprague

This book is for young women dealing with gossip, teasing, bullying, and peer pressure in junior high and high school. This is something that too many girls are dealing with, and learning how to deal with it in an effective way helps girls grow into young women with high self-esteem.

Teen Entrepreneur Success Secrets: The Essential Guide to Starting and Growing a Business by-Shonika Proctor

Teens don’t want to be helped, they want to be empowered. They want to be given the same information and opportunities as adults, however, they don’t want to get the condensed version in a “Rated G” format. While a life coach helps teens to get their you know what together, a teen entrepreneur coach supports teens as they discover what their you know what is.

The Laugh Out Loud Guide: Ace the SAT Exam without Boring Yourself to Sleep! 
by Charles Horn

Research shows that comedy enhances learning, reduces stress, makes subjects more interesting, and increases recall. Students can now literally laugh their way to a higher test score.

books for kids, best books, best books for teens, summer reading, book recommendations for teens
These books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

Best Self Help Books for Teens

Questions Young People Ask, Answers That Work, Volumes 1&2 by Dr Andrea Frayser

This book provides honest workable answers to questions that kids and parents often wrestle with like: Why Don’t I Like Myself? How Do I Know if It’s Real Love? What If My Parents Are Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol? How Can I Protect Myself at School? Can I Be Happy In A Single Parent Family? and More.

MY FEET AREN’T UGLY, A GIRLS GUIDE TO LOVING HERSELF FROM THE INSIDE OUT by Debra Beck

Debra’s style of writing and insight into teen girls issues today really reaches out to them in their language. There are parts that are funny, deep and very revealing as to who we all are and the problems we all face and solutions are given!

My Life Unscripted: Who’s Writing Your Life? by Tricia Goyer

Goyer’s book is written for 12 – 20 year-old girls. Parent’s will LOVE this book, because it teaches girls to navigate their tween/teen years without giving in to peer pressure. It gives girls the tools they need to decide what they will and won’t do before they are faced with temptations, peer pressure, and/or difficult situations.

Special Topics: Interesting Books for Teens

Sew with Sara by Sara Trail

Sara shows you how easy and fun it is to sew cute clothes and accessories-and make money from your sewing. 9 beginner-friendly projects include PJs, pillows, a tote bag, a cell phone or MP3 player cover, an apron, a notebook cover, and more. Laugh along with Sara’s journal entries.

The Ultimate Girls’ Guide to Understanding and Caring for Your Body by Isabel and Emily Lluch

The book covers all the topics preteen and teen girls are wondering about but might not know who to talk to, or might not be comfortable asking an adult about, including hygiene, beauty, healthy eating, periods, bras, acne, social situations, and more. The best part: the book’s authors, Isabel and Emily Lluch, are sisters who are 13 and 16, so they know all about the changes and questions girls have during puberty. The girls give advice on these important topics, along with the advice from a panel of 6 experts in the medical and beauty industries.

Wishing: Diaries of a Teen Pregnancy by Kim McLeod

This book is the largely unedited diary of the author during her mid-teens, as she struggled with drinking and drug addiction, religion and family conflicts, and finally, teen pregnancy. You can’t get better insight into a teenage mind than this girl’s voice in all of its raw honesty.

Top Teen Book Picks:

“When you pick up a book and dive into another story, it’s like escaping into a different world. There are so many books out there that practically anyone can find a book that they will enjoy. The books I read leave lasting impressions so that I remember them well after I have turned the last page.” Laura, 17

The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever is an amazing novel written by Sarah Dessen. It follows the summer of Macy, a sixteen-year-old who is known around her town for the girl who saw her father die. While trying to maintain a perfect SAT score and her job at the library with the ultra-perfect girls working there, she realizes that she needs a change from her constant strive for perfection. She stumbles upon a job at a catering company, whose employees are less than perfect and she fits in effortlessly. It is a very hectic job, but it is what she needs in her life.

“I read this book when I was 10 and absolutely loved it. I think it is one of the best books for young adults to read because it was both inspiring and action packed. Especially for summer reading or if you are trying to find a book for your tween during summer vacation, give Eragon a try!” –Maggie, 15

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep is such an amazing novel especially for teens who feel out of place and alone. This can get a bit heavy at times, but really digs deep into many of the issues teens face on a daily basis like dating, studying, cliques and social pressure. The characters are also deep and interesting to follow along with.

” I read this book from cover to cover in the span of a few hours. I felt like I was cheating myself of Kaela and her new extraordinary and supernatural friends whenever I put it down to eat. This book doesn’t contain an extraneous word or a boring scene. The story flows from page to page like a beautiful clear stream. In the end, I still craved for more of Kaela Neuleaf and her cousin Shawn. Thankfully, Barbara A. Mahler is working on the second book in the trilogy. In the meantime, I recommend you pass by your local bookstore and explore the hole in the Sky.” –Gema, 18

The Hole in the Sky by Barbara A. Mahler

The Hole in the Sky is just the first in a trilogy and needs to be on everyone’s shelf. Although written for the readers between ages eight and thirteen, anyone who’s struggled with loss and grief can relate to Kaela’s journey. Interestingly enough, this book was inspired by the September 11th tragedy. What I found particularly remarkable is that Barbara A. Mahler is able to demonstrate the power of love without sacrificing the characters’ adventures or personalities. Grief has affected Kaela with the death of her mother. Even though she risks her life in this new world, the real adventure is in overcoming grief, fears and allowing love into her heart.  When we hear about “the power of love”, the stereotypical image of hippies and peace and love signs usually come to mind but that is not the case in this book. The Hole in the Sky is able to teach us about the dangers of a hardened heart and the benefits of love without having Kumbaya playing in the background.

Have you seen our other top picks? 

Summer Learning Activity Ideas for Teens

teen summer activities, teen jobs, teen internship, teen resume, teen activity ideas, online courses for teens, online programs for teens, summer programs for teensSummer can be a great time for vacation, freedom and fun outdoors, but all too often teens take the entire summer to watch TV, play video games and let their brains turn to mush. What can parents do to encourage their kids to use their summer free time wisely?

I encourage all of my teen readers and teen interns to use their summers wisely. But I always hear the same excuses:

“I can’t do summer stuff because my family is going on vacation.”

“I have a part-time job so I need something flexible.”

“Summer programs are too expensive.”

“There aren’t any summer programs where I live.”

So, I decided to hand select some online programs that will be great for teens this summer. These are great for parents to look into as they are flexible, affordable and virtual.

See How Easily You Can Get Your Teen Learning This Summer!

Online courses are a great way for teenagers to spend their summers.

Why are online programs for teens so great?

Here’s why:

  • Online courses for teens are much more affordable (if not free) than other summer programs.
  • Online programs can be done virtually–they are not limited to one location. So no matter where you are in the country your teen can benefit from some of these educational programs.
  • These summer programs have no time limit. If your teen has a part-time job or vacation or needs to study for the SAT, no problem! I have selected these online courses because they can be taken at any time and have no due date.

Get Rid of Summer Boredom Once and For All

Summer Programs for Teens

Here are my favorite online courses for teens to banish boredom and have a productive summer…and for our teen readers: How to Have a Summer You Can Be Proud Of! These are all easy ways to help your teen be productive this summer:

teen summer activities, teen jobs, teen internship, teen resume, teen activity ideas, online courses for teens, online programs for teens, summer programs for teensCollege Admissions Course

Most teens need to start thinking about college early. This course helps students–both teens and parents learn about the college admissions process. They get tips and tricks for applying to college successfully.

Learn Programming Course

If your teen has any interest in computers, programming and web development is a great skill. Not only can teens use this for their personal use (building their own website or for school) but they can also list programming on their resume. The course, Become a Web Developer from Scratch is an introductory course so kids do not need any previous experience. It will also give them a new perspective on how the Internet works and after they will be able to create their own websites and apps for another resume building activity.

Be An Entrepreneur

Does your teen have a business idea? This course talks about first steps for start-ups and how to start a business. Dave Mcclure a mogul entrepreneur talks about how to raise money for a business. No matter what industry or job your teen decides to do, learning how to raise and ask for money is essential.

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Photoshop

Does your teen love taking photographs or are they interested in going into PR, design or fashion? Learning and understanding how to use photoshop is essential. This course will show teens how to use photoshop so they can add the skill to their resume.

Make Your Own Game

Teens love online games. This course helps teens learn how to make their own game from scratch. Not only is this a great way to challenge your teens (building a game is way more powerful than just playing a game), but also if they are interested in the video game industry, this is a great way for them to practice and get skills to list on their resume.

How to Produce Your Own Music

Do you have a musician or singer? Teens can spend the summer making,writing and publishing their own songs in Garage Band. This course teaches you the basics of making music in Garage Band–which is a relatively cheap and easy way for a teen to apply their musical talents this summer.

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Novel Writing Workshop

If your teen loves to write, they should consider trying to pen their own novel this summer. This will be great writing experience for them and flex their creative muscles. Not to mention how awesome a young writer looks to colleges and jobs. Encouraging your teen to do a novel will also help them get lost in their imagination–better than getting lost on the couch in front of the TV!

  • Young Adult Fiction Writing: If they are interested in writing Young Adult Fiction, this course is specifically for writers interested in that genre of writing.

Public Speaking 101

Everyone, no matter what they want to do in life should learn how to public speak. If your teen wants to push themselves have them take this course on public speaking–and maybe even sign up for a local toastmasters group to practice.

Learn Microsoft Excel

Microsoft is a great tool for teens to add to their resumes! This course is for beginning and intermediate excel users and can help teens become knowledgable in excel which is needed for almost any workplace. The training explains Microsoft Excel starting with the absolute basics. The teacher slowly works students up through learning the various capabilities of the program, and covers basic to advanced formula and functions. You can also download the working files that allow you to work alongside the teacher.

  • Powerpoint: They might also consider this course on Powerpoint, which they can use for school or work and add to resumes.
  • Microsoft Word: Word is another application that teens use all the time for school–in both High School and College. The tricks in this course can give them an edge on school projects and in the workplace.

Cake Decorating 101

This course is simply fun–or maybe will inspire your teen to want to be a baker! This course is all about cake decorating and teens can practice their skills in the comfort of their kitchen and you get the benefit of being an official taster. Cake decorating encourages creativity and imagination (and certainly can win you a lot of friends who need to come over and taste your creations). This is also a way for teens to make a little extra money if they can decorate children’s birthday cakes.

Magician: How to Do Card Magic

If your teen wants a fun hobby, maybe they should consider learning how to do card magic. This can be a fun side activity for them to try and impress friends.

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These courses are teen approved by our teen interns!

Learn How to Make an iPad or iPhone App

Teens love their phones and apps are very popular right now. Can your teen think of something that they wish they had as an app? In this course, the teacher explains the basics of apps so teens can program one themselves. This is an amazing way for a teen to get hands on experience and add an interesting story to their resume or college application. Who knows it could even be a money maker?!

Speed Reading

I am not always a fan of speed reading, but for slow readers or students who are going to take a lot of English classes in college, speed reading can be a great skill to have. This course will teach teens how to speed read almost any kind of book and help them get in the habit of reading more not less.

Play the Ukulele

For $25 your teen can be an expert Ukulele player. It might seem silly, but playing any kind of instrument is great for a teen’s brain and is a much better summer activity than playing video games.

Computer Repair

Many parents and teens joke that the computer fixer in the house is the youngest person in the house. Is your teen the one who fixes all of your devices? Maybe it is time to consider making that a resume-listable skill. This course will teach your teen how to repair computers. This is great for resumes and a wonderful way for your teen to make a little side business to make extra money after school.

Learn Portuguese

If you have a teen who loves language, maybe they want to consider picking up the basics of a new language over the summer to add to their resume.

ACT Math

If your teen is starting the test prep process this online course will help them in ACT math in a visual way–much more than a book. If they need help with other standardized tests, try these resources:

How to Score A Job 

This course helps teens who are looking for jobs or internships. They will get an extra edge from some of the topics to help them build a resume and contact recruiters. In this economy we could all use a little help!

Exam Excellence

Unfortunately teens need to know how to ace exams. Is there more to rocking an exam than just studying? This course teaches students how to best take an exam no matter what the material. A great skill for college!

Some Other Fun and Random Courses Your Teens Can Take This Summer:

Building Your Teen’s Resume

By the way we mention building a teen’s resume a lot in this post. If your teen has not started their resume, this is the perfect time to get them started! This book has the basics of starting your resume both online and offline: The Everything Resume Book: From Using Social Media to Choosing the Right Keywords, All You Need to Have a Resume That Stands Out From the Crowd! (Everything Series)  By Lin Grensing-Pophal

  • How to Set Goals: You can also check out this course on how to set goals to get your teen motivated!

Tags: teen summer activities, teen jobs, teen internship, teen resume, teen activity ideas, online courses for teens, online programs for teens, summer programs for teens

How Parents Can Teach Teens About Financial Literacy

teen money tips, teen finance tips, credit cards for students, student finances, teen money strategies, building credit, savings, money, financial literacy, parents, allowance, financial literacy for kids, financial literacy for teens, money smarts, teaching kids about money, teen spending habits, rich dad poor dad for kids, rich dad poor dad, books about kids and money, books to teach kids and teens about moneyOne of the toughest parts of growing up is learning about finances. Kids, tweens and teens slowly learn and pick up money habits from their parents, peers and possibly a few school lessons–although very few schools teach anything about financial literacy.

Here at Radical Parenting we think financial literacy is one of the most important aspects of a teen’s life.

So, how can parents help their children have good money smarts right from the beginning? Here are steps parents can take to teach their teens and kids about financial literacy:

Step One: Self-Education

It is hard to know where to start teaching your kids about financial literacy when we, as adults, don’t feel super confident about our own knowledge. So the first step is to bulk up on your financial smarts–this will not only help you better teach your child, but who knows, you might be able to shore up your own finances in the process! I would highly recommend this book for getting

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

This book really changed my outlook on finance and it is a great way to get inspired to talk to your kids.

Step Two: Have the FIRST Talk

Financial literacy happens with more than one talk, but this is a great place to start to get an idea of what they know and some of your own comfort levels with financial literacy. Plan on sitting down to discuss finances, budgeting and saving with your kids. Here are some ideas to start:

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Ask them what they already know

Many parents sit down to talk to their kids about money and begin with a long lecture, description of terms or stories. These are all fine, but you always want to start by asking your child or teen what they already know. This will help you see where they are now or if they have any misconceptions so you can base your talk and advice on that. Often times teens will not share their preconceived ideas with parents after their parents have already been talking because teens do not want to feel wrong, so they just shut down and nod their head.

Make it a discussion not a lecture

Another reason why asking teens what they already know is a good way to start is because it lets them know that this is a conversation, not a lecture. If you want to teach them about terms or tell a story, this is great, but follow up with questions back to your teen that require more than one word answers. Instead of asking, “Does that make sense?” Ask, “Have you ever seen an example of that in your life?” or “Have you ever heard anyone who misused what we just discussed?”

Use the right terms and define them

Sometimes, teens especially, get nervous asking about words they do not know or questioning a definition they do not quite understand. It is really important for parents to review each and every term they are talking about. Even if teens say they know what it means, parents should reiterate, “Ok, I’m glad you know the difference between a credit card and a prepaid card. Knowing that a credit card lets you spend money on credit and you pay later and a prepaid card lets you load money onto the card and you can only spend what you already have, which do you think our family has?” This way parents make sure they are not embarrassing their teen with information they think they already know, but they are giving extra information just in case.

Step Three: Leave Them With Tools

Once you have had the first discussion with your teen, think about some other tools you can give them to learn on their own. This gives the teen a chance to review the terms and then you can get back together to discuss them. Here are two easy to read books for kids and teens depending on their age:

Little Kids Big Money: Tools for Teaching Kid Friendly Finance  By Andrea Travillian

This book has all of the basics for your child if they are a little bit younger.

Rich Dad Poor Dad For Teens By Robert T. Kyosaki

Monopoly Great tool to teach financial literacy,  monopoly, games about finances, money, financial literacy, parents, allowance, financial literacy for kids, financial literacy for teens, money smarts, teaching kids about money, teen spending habits, rich dad poor dad for kids, rich dad poor dad, books about kids and money, books to teach kids and teens about money

If you read Rich Dad Poor Dad this book is the teen version and can inspire some great conversation if you read your version and have your teen read this one!

Step Four: Take Action

Discussions and reading are great, but they can be even more full of impact when you have an action to demonstrate some of the concepts. Here are some ways you can put financial literacy into practice:

  • Show your child an old credit card statement and walk through it with them.
  • Play Monopoly! Yes, monopoly is a great way for teens to learn about money and real estate. Play it as a family to encourage discussion and friendly competition. Let your children be the banker to get used to handling the money.
  • Visit your local bank together and meet the tellers.
  • cashflow game, games about financial literacy, money, financial literacy, parents, allowance, financial literacy for kids, financial literacy for teens, money smarts, teaching kids about money, teen spending habits, rich dad poor dad for kids, rich dad poor dad, books about kids and money, books to teach kids and teens about moneyWrite a check and log it in your checkbook together.
  • Play the Cashflow Game! This board game might seem a little expensive but it is amazing–not just for your kids, but for you as well. It is played in school across the country and is the most fun way I have found to teach (and learn) about finances.

My teen interns and I played it and are now addicted.

These ideas make it less boring for teens and kids and shows them that smart money concepts can be applied in practice.

Step Five: Allowance 101

Talking about allowance can be stressful, but still very important and a great way for teens to understand the value of money. Here are a few tips for parents on how to approach allowance and financial literacy with kids:

  •  Allowance Matures with Kids: Unfortunately, the money talk and deciding on how much allowance should be given is not a one-time activity. As kids and teens mature, allowance should mature with them. I recommend sitting down to re-discuss allowance at the beginning of each school year. This is when kids are most receptive to fresh starts and parents can take summer behavior (either good or bad) into account when deciding how much allowance is appropriate.
  •  Allowance Grows with Responsibility: As kids get older, their need for more money also increases. However, a teen’s need for money and their responsibilities are not always synonymous. It is important for parents to consider increasing responsibilities around the home and at school when they raise allowance.  I recommend teenagers should begin to understand that if they work hard and keep their responsibilities they can also earn more money. On the other hand, if they forget chores, bring home bad grades or break curfew, allowance should be restricted.
  • Allowance Should Match: Many parents ask me how much allowance they should be giving. The same survey by American Express also found that the average allowance for teenagers is $66 per month. I think that allowance is a highly personal number, but I do encourage parents to consider matching, or at least taking into account what their child’s friends get as allowance. You want your child to be on the same level as friends—as long as this is reasonable, so they all have the same budget for weekend activities, gifts and clothes or music.

Remember to ask your kids what they think their allowance should be and why. This will not only give you ideas for what you should be giving them, but also clue you into what they want to use the money for. As an ongoing discussion, allowance can be a great conversation starter to discuss larger maturity issues with your kids or teens.

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The tips are Teen Approved by our teen interns.

Step Six: Discussing Sticky Financial Issues with Kids and Teens

Many parents feel anxious even addressing money issues with their teens, but there are a few scenarios that really push parents out of their comfort zone. Many of these issues are inevitable. The way adults address sticky money issues is essential to not only teach your teen to value money, but also to make sure they have faith and respect for you as a parent.

Here are three common, but sticky financial questions your teens could ask:

1. Why are we in debt?

Many teenagers are aware of the economy and their own family’s financial problems. Worse, over and over again kids make the same mistakes as their parents. I worked with a family where the 24 year-old son was already in a mountain of debt. When we sat down to talk to him about it, we did not realize that the parents had also been in thousands of dollars of debt a few years earlier. The parents had been too ashamed to talk about it. This had two effects on their son. One, he did not know how to get out of it and was ashamed to tell them early, because he thought they would be upset. This made the problem continue much longer. Second, he had only see his parents spend. He did not see the consequence of their spending—huge debt. Nor did he see how they got out of it. If you are in debt, it is important to walk the line between not worrying your kids and letting them know that this is a common problem that must be avoided. Talk to your kids about how you are working to curb your spending and how you plan on solving your debt—coupons, saving more, paying off loans faster, etc. This shows them how to be responsible and warns them against spending too much in the first place.

2. Are we rich? Or are we poor?

‘Rich’ and ‘poor’ can be scary terms for parents to address, but many teens have told us they want to have an idea of their family’s financial profile–they just aren’t sure how to ask their parents about it. I think it is important for parents to keep some of the financial numbers private, but teach their kids about how they manage that money. You can do this by reviewing bank statements, family saving strategies and how parents make those decisions. It is also essential for parents to tell their kids that ‘being rich’ or ‘being poor’ is not what is important, but being happy is.

3. Can I have extra money for ____?

Parents often tell us that they have trouble saying ‘no’ to their kids when they want extra money for a big purchase or more allowance. I recommend that parents practice want versus need. First, talk with your kid about this issue before trying to make a purchase or in the heat of the moment. Sit down with your family and ask your kids what they think the difference is between want and need. You can also set-up a system for them to slowly save up for larger items, or for weeks when they have more activities with friends. You can offer to take out a portion of their allowance each month so when they accidently run out of allowance you can dip into that fund.  Most importantly, teaching proper spending on splurging versus saving is done by modeling. Discuss your own purchases with your family so they can see how responsible adults use balance their finances and their happiness.

There are hundreds of questions teens might have about money issues—but this is good, because it means they are curious, willing to learn and want to ask YOU. Keeping the communication lines open so that they feel that they can approach you is the best way to teach money smarts and build a strong relationship.

Step Seven: Spending And Learning

Once you have talked to your teen and played games, read together and tried some of the activities with teens and kids, it’s time to let them spend allowance or money earned on odd jobs and then discuss what happens to come up. First, lets look at what kids and teens typically spend on. According to a Statistic Brain, here are some Teenage Consumer Spending Statistics:

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It is important to note that small expenses do add up and teens often forget this. This is why it is so hard for teens to save. Our teen interns have told us a few items they buy multiple times per week include:

-Starbucks Frappacinos

-Virtual gifts on Facebook

-Music Videos on iTunes

In fact, if you were to add up how much one of our teen interns spent on frappacino’s during High School it adds up to a semester’s worth of tuition at our local college! Many parents forget to look at how their kids are spending and only focus on how much. I highly recommend that parents look at their child’s budget and see what kinds of things their kids are spending on. It is good to get into habits early about saving and not over-spending on luxury items or specialty goods. Parents also might want to show their kids their own budget to talk about different areas the household spends on. This is a great way to teach teens to spend smart.

money, financial literacy, parents, allowance, financial literacy for kids, financial literacy for teens, money smarts, teaching kids about money, teen spending habits, rich dad poor dad for kids, rich dad poor dad, books about kids and money, books to teach kids and teens about moneyStep Eight: Helping Teens Budget Their Money

In the age of abundance, the line between want and need is very hard to find. This is the most important part of helping teens and kids budget their money. Here are some ways to help parents teach budgeting principles:

  • Practice want versus need. Often times, adults are also guilty of this confusion. It is important to talk with your kid about this issue before trying to make a purchase or in the heat of the moment. Sit down with the family and ask your kids what they think the difference is between want and need. Go through items in your home, previous birthday or holiday presents and ask what was want and need. If you draw their attention to this distinction when they are calm and not threatened, you can also bring it up at the mall or when your teen asks for more allowance because they really ‘need’ something.
  • We all need rewards. The want versus need talk can make a teen or child a bit depressed. Follow it up with a talk about fun and splurge purchases that are good. You can talk about how you decide to buy holiday gifts—many of these items are not needed, but they are still rewarding. Birthdays, planned rewards and holidays are all times when it is ok to spend on wants.
  • Let them try it.The talks above work great when parents are with their children, but how about when a teen just got their allowance and they meet their friends at the mall? Will they remember the want versus need talk? Will they over reward themselves?
  • Use the opportunity to practice goal-setting. Teaching kids to save is a way to also encourage goal setting. Treat the large purchase like a goal. Have them put up reminders on their wall or in their calendar and then make small stepping-stones for them to reach the goal. Perhaps they can take out a portion of their allowance every week to save up. This way you can make markers for them and they can see that with planning ahead, a little bit of work and help they can save up for bigger, more expensive goals.
  • Show them that effort pays off. Another way to encourage them to achieve their goals is to have them perform jobs around the house or be more helpful in order to get that larger purchase. This helps them see that they need to work hard for what they want and allows parents to not feel like they are only there to dole out money. Ideas can be washing the cars, driving siblings to school, raking the yard, etc. This also helps them appreciate what they achieved in the end.
  • Share your splurges and savings.Sometimes teens and kids do not realize that adults need to save up for what they want too. In fact, many of our teenagers told us that they feel their parents spend on whatever they want, but when it comes to teen’s wants, parents turn a deaf ear. Kids do not often see that you are saving and making cuts. Talk to them about items you want to save up for and how you have done it. This will help them see that saving is mature and they can bond with you over your experiences.
  • Enjoy the splurge with them. If they are saving up for something big, or you want to encourage them to just start putting money away, it can also be good to enjoy small rewards with them. If they want to go to a concert, offer to go out to dinner beforehand. If they want to buy a Wii, say that you will match their savings and split the cost if you can play together as a family. This way parents use the savings as a bonding opportunity.

Most importantly, teaching proper spending with splurging versus saving is done by modeling. Discuss your own purchases with your family so they can see how responsible adults use balance their finances and their happiness.

Step Nine: Earning Money

We have talked a lot about kids earning money from allowance. But earning money through small jobs or even starting their own business is one of the best ways to teach financial literacy!

Teen Job Ideas:

  • Babysitting
  • Tutoring
  • Car Wash
  • Lawn or yard work
  • Internships
  • Playground Aid

Teen Entrepreneurs:

Does your teen have an entrepreneurial spirit? Rich Dad’s Escape from the Rat Race: How To Become A Rich Kid By Following Rich Dad’s Advice  by Robert T. Kiyosaki is a great book for young entrepreneurs or kids who want to start their own business.

Udemy is an online portal where kids and take classes online on how to be an entrepreneur. Here is a great one on Raising Money for Start-Ups.

Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open. Allow them to revisit finances with you whenever they have questions. Money is actually a topic that parents can bond with, talk about and support with their kids as they grow.

An Encouraging Letter to American Parents

Advice for Parenting Teenagers: Help for A Teenage Break-UpThis article is by our resident school counselor at Radical Parenting. Check out her bio and other articles or submit a question at School Counselor’s Corner: Q&A with Dr. A.  

Is anyone else sick of hearing about what terrible parents we are?  How American children are poorly behaved, sugar-induced, self-serving, lost individuals, with little drive to do right?  With Chinese “tiger moms,” Finland’s high achievers, and superior French discipline all the rage in the media this past year, it’s a wonder our children manage to get their shoes on the right feet.  According to pop culture, Western parents should be ashamed of themselves.  We are obviously gluttonous, rude, lazy pushovers raising similar children, right?

Well, I am here to stand up for the American parent.  I am a psychologist, parent of 3, and work at an amazing school with children and their parents daily.  My opinion may not matter to many, but for what it’s worth, these are my observations about our above average American families.

American parents work hard.  We work hard at work, we work hard at home, and sometimes we work just so that our children can have the best.  And while sometimes that equates to material items, more often than not, our intention is to give them the best of opportunity.  We want our children to be pushed to their potential, but not over the edge; academically, socially, and spiritually.  We work so that our children can find inspiration and passion in experiences that you and I never dreamed of having at their ages.  All this while trying not to overschedule, maintain reasonable nutritional habits, and keep our family’s quality time intact despite their extracurricular activities.  We are incredibly involved, including the ever-neglected father, in the lives of our children and in the role modeling for our children.

We are good people trying to do right by our children and the world. We teach them good character and the importance of doing the right thing.  We teach them traits like integrity, generosity, and open-mindedness.  In a world where terrorism is all too real and frightening, we shield our children from the horror and try to convince them that the world is a good, kind place (but wear your seatbelt and don’t talk to strangers).  We teach them if we just practice tolerance and understanding, we can all get along and work together for a greater nation and a greater world.  We teach our kids to take care of the Earth and all that she grants us so that their children, our grandchildren, will get to a chance to grow up in a healthier environment.

Lastly, we teach them gratitude.  For all that we work for and give them, we want them to know that they are the lucky ones.  They are afforded opportunities and experiences only because of our sacrifices, but we can’t choose their destiny.  Their ultimate success will lie in their own hands and only with hard work, perseverance, and determination will they reach their own goals.  We will do anything and everything to give them the tools they need, but we can’t force them to use these gifts.

It is this kind of parenting, my friends, that has shaped our country.  Last I heard, the United States of America is still pretty well recognized as an internationally superpower, so we can’t be doing that badly.  Someone raised and educated our leaders and I’m pretty certain they were American parents.  So, while each country and generation degrades the next about how spoiled our children are, let them talk. The rest of us will continue to overindulge them with love, education, acceptance, and the capacity to think outside the box; to solve problems we don’t even know exist yet.  All I can say is that from my view, these kids aren’t doing so badly and consequently, maybe, just maybe, we deserve a small pat on the back.

This thought was confirmed as I sat listening to our valedictorian and salutatorian’s speeches at this year’s graduation.  They were emitting advice about not just following your dreams, but taking your dreams a step further and choosing to make an impact in this world; pushing themselves to choose greatness and in turn, making a positive change for the universe. Their words to each other are to reach for greatness and improve upon the life we have granted them.  Could it get any better?  I could not help but think, “Thank God for these kids.”  With all that we have worked to give them; they get it and they will do great things with it.  It is true that they are spoiled with opportunity and they are all the better for it.  These children are truly our future and unlike most people’s perspectives, this gives me great peace of mind.

So, hold fast American parents.  Here’s your “Attaboy!”  I know you are wondering if the sleepless nights rocking your infant, finishing that last minute project with your child, and worrying about your teenager’s whereabouts are worth it, but if these kids are any indication of our energy and efforts, the answer is clear.  Dig in, dig deep, and keep doing what your doing and take solace in knowing that we’re in this together.

15 Best Books for Young Adults and Tweens

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These books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

Finding good young adult books is a challenge–but getting the right book can encourage young readers and make for great reading escapes. Here at Radical Parenting we want to review some of the best books for young adults and tween readers. We try to pick the best three in each category.

Why is it so important for young adults to read?

We love encouraging young adult readers and tween readers because we think books are the way to teach kids life lessons and provide a safe brain stimulating activity. Here are some other reasons to get the tween in your life a life-changing book:

  1. Tweens Learn Best From Stories: Young adult readers love to learn from characters in their books. Some of the best books out there (including the ones we chose below) have amazing moral lessons, life lessons and characters young adult readers can look up to. As tweens read they are able to put themselves in the shoes of the character and decide how they would make decisions. This is a great mental lesson.
  2. A Safe Activity for Young Adults: As long as the book is appropriate, I can’t quite think of a safer activity for young adults other than reading. During summer breaks or weekends, there is nothing better than helping a tween dive into a great book.
  3. Awesome Books Inspire Awesome Thinking: Books encourage imagination and brain stimulation far more than movies or Facebook. When a tween or young adult picks up a good book their creative juices flow and their imagination is active.

Top Books for Young Adult ReadersBest Books For Young Adults and Tweens

We always choose the best three books in a category and then have our favorites in each category, teen pick and runner ups below. Be sure to leave your favorites in the comments or if you have reviews on our best books for teens.

1. Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland

This is a wonderful book series for tweens and young adults. It is full of adventure and magic and works for both boy tweens and girl tweens as summer or fun reading. This book is great for young adults because it is the story of dragons and will entice lots of imagination and adventure.

2. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

This is a lovely and inspiring story for your young adult reader. Debbie is the main character of the story who takes readers along with her on her journey. This is for ages 10 and up and has won a Newbery award as well as the hearts of may tween readers.

3. Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer 

Hope Was Here is a story of a young girl in a small town. The touching tale will bring out the sappy in any reader. Another Newbery Honor book, tweens will feel inspired and take home lessons from Joan Bauer’s story of a young girl from Wisconsin.

Fiction Books for Young Adult ReadersBest Fiction Books for Young Adults and Tweens

If your tween is looking for an escape, these best fiction books are the way to go. The stories are fun and relatable and your young adult reader will love them.

1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Of course, we had to list Harry Potter as one of the best series of all time. Be careful, your tween reader will get totally hooked to these books and you might not be able to pry them out of their hands! These are also great books to listen to on tape with tweens or kids in the car on road trips and vacations.

2.  The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson

This is a funny book of stories about misfits and all of their adventures. If you have a reader with a short attention span or a spunky attitude then this book by Barbara Robinson is for your young adult reader!

3. The Last Book In The Universe by Rodman Philbrick

This interesting book is set in the future and helps to get tween and young adult readers thinking about some bigger questions. What could happen in the future? How do we view reading? How do we value books? Great for both male and female readers The Last Book in the Universe is a great summer read.

Best Non-Fiction Self-Help Books for Young Adults and Tweens

Some tweens are looking for inspiration from their books. These non-fiction picks or self-help books for tweens can teach and inspire.

Non-Fiction Books for Tweens1. Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen, Irene Dunlap

The Chicken Soup series are classics that will always resonate with readers–no matter what age. What I love about the Chicken Soup series is it uses real stories to inspire and teach lessons to kids and tweens.

2. Young Revolutionaries Who Rock by Dallas Jessup

This is a great “How-To Guide for Saving the World One Revolution at a Time” and sets out to inspire and motivate young tweens. Dallas Jessup is calling for youth activism and lays out grand plans in her fun book.

3. Questions Young People Ask, Answers That Work, Volumes 1&2 by Dr Andrea Frayser

This book provides honest workable answers to questions that kids and parents often wrestle with like: Why Don’t I Like Myself? How Do I Know if It’s Real Love? What If My Parents Are Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol? How Can I Protect Myself at School? Can I Be Happy In A Single Parent Family? and More. This is a great how to book that parents and tweens can read together.

Runner-Ups: Best Books for Young Adults and Tweens

1.Be Confident in Who You Are by Annie Fox

Sometimes worrying about what other people think can hold you back from enjoying life and from making choices that reflect who you really are. This book can help you dial down your Opinion-ator and trust yourself more. Fox is a seasoned expert in everything teen, tween and kid and her books and stories really reach young readers.

2. Conversations with Teen Entrepreneurs: Success Secrets of the Younger Generation by Ben Cathers

If you have a young reader with an entrepreneurial spirit than give them some older teens and mentors to look up to! This book helps inspire and give tweens and young adults an accurate view into starting entrepreneurial endeavors.

3. The Ultimate Girls’ Guide to Understanding and Caring for Your Body by Isabel and Emily Lluch

The book covers all the topics preteen and teen girls are wondering about but might not know who to talk to, or might not be comfortable asking an adult about, including hygiene, beauty, healthy eating, periods, bras, acne, social situations, and more. The best part: the book’s authors, Isabel and Emily Lluch, are sisters who are 13 and 16, so they know all about the changes and questions girls have during puberty. The girls give advice on these important topics, along with the advice from a panel of 6 experts in the medical and beauty industries.

Teen Pick: Best Book for Tweens and Young Adults

Here is one of our teen interns remembering which book was their favorite when they were a tween.

Holes by Louis Sachar

“I loved this book because not only was the story great, but it was thrilling and funny at the same time. Every tween has to read this book!” –Maggie, 15

Have you seen our other top picks? 

What are your favorite books for young adults and summer reading lists for tweens? Be sure to let us know!