Teenagers speak in poetry, prose, and photos
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Fewer students write about economic issues today, he adds. That contrasts with the 1980s and early 1990s, when many expressed concern about their parents' job losses.Skip to next paragraph
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Yet loss remains a frequent theme. "The whole focus on loss has become much more pervasive," Mrs. Meyer says. "Many more young people are dealing with loss at an early age as a result of driving accidents, violence, suicide. Divorce is the loss of a family as they once knew it. Even moving represents a loss."
What students write about most compellingly - both positively and negatively - is their relationship with their parents. Many also talk about wanting to grow up, get married, and have a family.
"The thing that kids care most about, deep down, is their families," Mr. Meyer says. "Anybody who minimizes the importance of families in the lives of teenagers is really missing the most important ingredient in them."
Again and again, he adds, students say that their parents' support and affection are among "the strongest motivators and one of the most important ingredients they need to help them through what is admittedly a difficult period in their lives."
In an essay titled "Hockey Dad," Brendan Murphy, a high school sophomore in Milton, Mass., pays tribute to his father for supporting his love of hockey. The piece, in a chapter called "Heroes," appeals to students and parents alike, Brian says, adding, "Kids from any age group know the feeling when their fathers and mothers influence them."
Kun Jia is a high school junior in New City, N.Y. Her essay, "Miracle on Eighth Street," describes the day she and her family visited the house, now rundown, where they lived when she was a child. Calling herself "a pretty literature-ish person," Kun says that the book gives her writing "more dimension" than it had as an English assignment.
"There are some people who think my writing is actually legitimate," she says, a trace of wonder in her voice. "It makes me feel good."
Next spring the Meyers plan to publish a sequel, "TeenInk 2: More Voices, More Visions." Other future books will focus on specific topics: family, friends, heroes, love. All proceeds go to a nonprofit Young Authors Foundation to support writing and publishing opportunities for teenagers. (The Meyers support themselves through advertising in the magazine, foundation grants, and donations from individuals.)
Although the book's title and colorful cover make teens its main audience, the Meyers hope that adults will also find it appealing. "It will allow them see teenagers in a different light," she says. "They'll know that teens have many caring feelings and insights into the human condition."
Caring is, of course, a mutual endeavor. Teens, Mr. Meyer emphasizes, "really need support, and they really need to be listened to."
Adds Mrs. Meyer, "If we listen to them, we can learn a lot from them."
For more information, see www.teenink.com or write PO Box 30, Newton, MA 02461.
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