readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Friday, November 19, 2010

November Feature: The Struggle to be Strong: True Stories by Teens About Overcoming Tough Times

Our November non-fiction featured title is The Struggle to Be Strong, a compilation of true stories from teens. This book was edited by Al Desetta, M.A., of Youth Communication, and Sybil Wolin, PhD, of Project Resilience. When I got in touch with Youth Communication, I met (virtually) with Loretta Chan. When she was a teenager, Loretta wrote for New Youth Connections, one of Youth Communication's magazines. Now Loretta is the marketing director of Youth Communication, and she has something she wanted to share with you readers:

How can young women overcome tough times, media stereotypes, and even abuse? The resilient girls whose true stories appear in The Struggle to Be Strong know what it takes. Danielle stops being stuck up and learns that beauty really is more than skin deep. So does Tonya, after she gets suckered by a beauty school, which just takes her money. Artiqua stands up to people who criticize her dating a boy from another race. Tamara describes how taking long walks helps her deal with the anger and rage that she feels. Tameka learns how to stop feeling sorry for herself and succeed in college, even though she grew up in foster care and doesn’t get any care packages or other support from home. Shaniqua overcomes her shyness and her fears to perform at a poetry slam. Paula, whose mother abused and neglected her, finds it in her heart to forgive her mom as she is dying. And Terry-Ann, like all of the girls in this book, used writing to learn about herself and become more resilient.

The girls who wrote stories that appear in The Struggle to Be Strong participated in Youth Communication's intensive teen writing program, which has helped thousands of teens explore their lives and improve their writing. Notable alumni from the program include the novelist and National Book Award finalist Edwidge Danticat, Glamour editor Veronica Chambers, New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns, and "Life Hacker" author and blogger Gina Trapani.

How do our teens write their stories? Watch this short film.

- Loretta Chan

Now we want to hear from you: Which of the stories in The Struggle to be Strong reminded you of your own life? How did you relate to the real-life experiences which were shared in this book? Who is the most resilient person in your family or household? Leave your thoughts below in the comments!


Deborah Reber said...

What a cool book and even better project - I haven't heard of this organization before. Thank so much for highlighting this!!

Micol Ostow said...

Thanks for the feature, LW! As to your question - my mom is by far the most resilient person I know. She was one of 13 children and the only one of her siblings to go to college (full scholarship). She survived poverty and unfathomable odds. And yet she's amazingly positive at all times. She converted to Judaism when she met my father and has embraced the religion so fully that I can't take my own spiritual education and practice for granted. I only hope I'm able to have the same grounding influence on my own children someday!

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