"The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries."
Public high schools do a poor job of preparing teenagers for the realities of life. I know, I teach in one. It is not the fault of the high schools. They are forced to focus on state test scores, graduation rates and an outdated curriculum. Research tells us that employers don’t care about state test scores. They want people who are reliable, work hard, get along well with others and are trainable. Students bound for college are ill-prepared for the stresses and challenges of life away from their families.
“A Teenager’s Guide to Living: Navigating the Challenges of Adolescence” is designed to teach kids about the subjects that high school doesn’t typically cover. Topics for chapters evolved out of interviews with teenagers. They include love, compassion, integrity, character, finding your passion, conflict resolution, money, grief, tolerance and acceptance, technology, stepping outside your comfort zone, taking responsibility for your life and much more. The book is written in a conversational tone with many anecdotes and lots of humor. Each chapter contains reflection questions.
I’ve worked as a high school and college teacher for the past 30 years. I’ve spent a great deal of time mentoring and counseling teenagers. Often I’ve been a surrogate parent for students. I was fortunate to teach a philosophy class at our school based on this book. Students could ask questions about anything, and we discussed them in a safe, loving environment. At the end of the class I asked the 28 students to review the class, and everyone said the course needs to be a requirement for high school students.
About the Author
Dana Libonati has been a high school and college teacher for the past 30 years. He is often a mentor, counselor and often surrogate parent to his students. He has won numerous education awards, and was nominated for Oregon Teacher of the Year in 2019. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in music composition and theory from the University of Portland, and is also a published composer and arranger.
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Opening this shop is a dream coming to life. An independent, community-based online shop filled with books, beautiful products from local artisans, and conversations with authors and neighbors is a convergence of all my favorite things. When you add my eight-year old son asking if he can help show other children where all the best kids’ books are, there you have it: my version of paradise.
Now, more than ever, communities like ours need safe spaces to gather for discussion and reflection. Neighbors should feel welcome and be encouraged to ask questions, share feelings, and get to know one another. Bookshops are wonderful places where the act of pulling a book off the shelf can spark a conversation that leads to authentic and meaningful connections. Bookshops are magical spots where children discover the characters that turn them into life-long readers and learners. These experiences cannot be downloaded.