Teens, it’s 2021!
I’m not sure if this calls for exclamation points or just an extra-large sigh of relief, but either way, I’d like to start by flinging on you a fistful of the glittery hope that automatically accompanies the start of a brand new year.
Nice! You look…shiny. Please, take a moment to glow in the light (fingers crossed) of 2021.
Now that we have that out of the way, I must make a confession: I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. But I WILL take any excuse for a little ol’ fashioned introspection and self-improvement, and the following books are great for that kind of thing. Since you’re already covered in hope/glitter, it seems like a good time to tell you about them, but I’d also totally understand if you’d rather comfort-read Harry Potter for the tenth time instead. If 2021 has you feeling ambitious, here are some new-year, new-you YA books to consider.
Teens, look me in the eye. Do you dread public speaking? When your teacher announces an oral presentation do you grow a pit in your stomach the size of…well, a podium? “Thank You for Coming to My TED Talk: A Teen Guide to Great Public Speaking” by Chris Anderson, one of the brains behind the TED idea-sharing series, may be just what you need to transform your speech-making cold feet into confidence. Anderson provides readers a blueprint for how to deliver effective and engaging communication, whether you’re on stage or in an interview chair. In order to be a slicker speaker in 2021, you have to start somewhere…and I humbly suggest chapter one of this book.
I think it’s safe to say that all beings who experienced 2020 could benefit from reading my next recommendation: “Rewire Your Anxious Brain for Teens: Using CBT [Cognitive Behavior Therapy], Neuroscience and Mindfulness to Help You End Anxiety, Panic and Worry” by Debra Kissen. Not only does this book provide actionable strategies and exercises for understanding and reducing anxiety, but its tone feels genuinely supportive. It’s almost like your best friend—who knows and adores you inside and out—is secretly a psychology prodigy and wrote a book just for you. I especially love how the book explains the biology of anxiety, demystifying it in a way that takes away some of its power.
If you’re itching to reclaim your life and allow anxiety to move through you rather than define you (I LEARNED THAT FROM THE BOOK!), “Rewire Your Anxious Brain for Teens” is ready to help.
This next title goes out to the tweens. Written by Matthew Syed, England’s former number-one table-tennis player, “You Are Awesome: Find Your Confidence and Dare to be Brilliant at (Almost) Anything” is a book that breaks down the process of, well, becoming awesome at stuff. Because of his own experience being an average-kid-turned-ping-pong-wiz, Syed doesn’t buy into the “natural talent” hype. Instead, he shares his strategies for training your mind and self for greatness. While this includes practice, resilience, grit, and exploiting your neuroplasticity (wait…I’m giving away too much…read the book!), Syed maintains the results are worth it, even if you don’t “succeed” in the ways you originally imagined.
So there you have it, a trio of YA titles to help you ring in the New Year, self-actualization style…you party animal! And sorry about the glitter. Even if you don’t check out any of these books in 2021, I am wishing you fistfuls of optimism and silver linings (of the non-glitter variety), and happy reading in the days ahead.