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Canfield, Jack, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger, comp. (1997). Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: 101 Stories of Life, Love, and Learning. Deerfield Beach, FLA: Health Communications, Inc. 352 pp.

Grade range: 6-12

Genre: nonfiction

Summary and Critique

    This batch of Chicken Soup consists of 101 stories, poems, and cartoons of life, love, and learning every teenager can relate to and learn from without feeling criticized or judged. The book is divided into eight themes – relationships, friendship, family, love and kindness, learning, tough stuff, making a difference, and reaching for goals. Each thematic section contains thirteen one-to five-page inspirational stories offering advice through real life lessons. Chicken Soup fans will find this book strengthens the heart and calms the spirit. Teens will discover their own feelings are normal and that they are not alone.

    In"Losing the ‘Us,'" sixteen-year-old Lia discovers the difficulties of finding one's individuality after ending a long-term relationship. Actress Jenny Garth describes her concept of home in "I am Home." in "Be Cool…Stay in School," Jason describes a program his school developed to prevent students from dropping out. Frank, a high school student, performs a selfless and random act of kindness in "Reaching Out to a Stranger."

    Written in common language with a non-didactic tone, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul offers stories that cover common teen emotions and problems. These emotions cross all ethnic, socioeconomic and gender lines. There are stories about dreams realized and loves lost, overcoming shyness and surviving a suicide, triumph and tragedy, and forgiveness. Each story speaks to the reader.

Themes/Topics

    Families

    Friends and enemies

    Generations

    Challenges and Triumphs

    The Individual vs. Society

    Love, Sex, and Romance

Author/Illustrator/Editor Information

Media Connections

Movies

    Dead Poet's Society (1989) Teenagers at a private school learn about life, friendship, and literature from each other and from a passionate English teacher.

    Fifteen & Pregnant (1998) A fifteen-year-old girl must make difficult decisions concerning her pregnancy.

    The Breakfast Club (1985) Five very different Teens learn about relationships, friendship, love, and cliques while serving detention together.

    Baby Love (1996) This documentary contains interviews with teen mothers from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds. The teen mothers discuss their views on love, sex, relationships, responsibilities and parenting.

    Brian's Song (1972) A professional football player, Gale Sayers, befriend dying cancer patient, Brian Piccolo.

    The Color of Friendship (2000) A Caucasian South African girl becomes an exchange student, and lives with an African American family in Washington D.C.

Television

    Seventh Heaven (WB) The Camden family and their friends confront a variety of life issues.

    Lizzy McGuire (NICK) A high school girl deals with the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.

Online Resources

Related Texts

    Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger, comp. (2001). Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff: Stories of Tough Times and Lessons Learned. Deerfield Beach, FLA: Health Communications, Inc. 343 pp. Heartfelt stories about Teens experiencing tough life lessons.

    Vienne, Veronique. (2002). The Art of the Moment: Simple Ways to Get the Most from Life. New York : Clarkson Potter/Publishers. 96pp. Encourages reader to savor the fullness of life in brief, joyful installments.

    Hidier, Tanuja. (2002). Born Confused. New York: Scholastic Press. 413pp. Personal account of an Indian-American teen expressed through the eyes of an insightful narrator.

    Brashares, Ann. (2001). Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. New York : Delacorte Press. 294pp. Story of four best friends, the biggest summer of their lives, and the magical pants that bring it all together. Celebration of life, laughter, roots and self-discovery.

Teaching Ideas

    (1) "Someone Special" Have students honor those with whom they are journeying through life by writing a creative poem or drawing/painting a picture of someone important to them.

    [Summarized/adapted from "My Book of Others" by Ronna L. Edelstein in Ideas Plus, Book 19. Urbana, IL: National Council of the Teachers of English. pp. 17-19.]

    (2) "A Thematic Bulletin Board" Teacher provides ideas tied to current theme of study or reading. Students work in small groups to write proposal for bulletin board. The final product adds to their understanding of theme or literary work.

    [Summarized/adapted from "Themed Bulletin Boards as a Collaborative Activity" by Marie Rogers in Ideas Plus, Book 18. Urbana, IL: National Council of the Teachers of English. pp. 68-70.]

    (3)"Photographic Point of View" Show photos on overhead. Distribute a list of starter questions and ask students to comment on photo. Questions can relate to mood, feelings, and what it means to them based on their personal experiences.

    [Summarized/adapted from "Exploring Point of View through Photographs" by Aimee Nichols in Classroom Notes Plus. Urbana, IL: National Council of the Teachers of English. October 1998 pp. 1-2.]

(Review written by Yasemin Florey and edited by Jennifer E. Moore)

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