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Teen

10 Books That Promote Positive Thinking in Teens

by Eliza Smith

Teen Books that Promote Positive Thinking

Being a teenager is no cakewalk. On top of navigating the social minefield of high school and dealing with academic pressures, teens are also, more often than not, closely tuned in to the outside world — a world in which they will soon matriculate as newly minted (and suddenly independent) young adults. And frankly, that prospect can be daunting.

Like the characters in these books, they might also be grieving a first big loss, getting a handle on shifting mental health, or feeling isolated from peers who don’t get what they’re going through. When the teen in your life could use a reminder that they’re more resilient than they think, that there’s solace to be found, and that life — even at its most unfair and bewildering — can also be hilarious, point them to one of these heartening reads that promote positive thinking.

  • The Beauty That Remains

    by Ashley Woodfolk

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    Autumn, Shay, and Logan’s lives overlap in two significant ways: they’re all connected to a popular band that’s broken up, and they’ve each experienced a devastating loss. For Autumn, her best friend; for Shay, her twin sister; for Logan, his boyfriend. The three teens navigate grief and guilt in their own individual ways — with the help of friends, siblings, parents, and the power of music — and learn that though there’s no clear path to healing, there’s light on the other side of darkness.

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  • 10 Things I Can See from Here

    by Carrie Mac

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    Maeve experiences severe anxiety, which means that much of her headspace is devoted to imagining worst-case scenarios. Her troubles are exacerbated when she’s sent to live with her dad (a lapsing alcoholic), pregnant stepmom, and twin stepbrothers in Vancouver — a situation with a whole new set of stressors. It’s also in Vancouver that Maeve meets the carefree Salix, and sparks fly. Suffice it to say that Maeve has a lot on her plate, but she’s also determined to show up for the people in her life. An authentic portrayal of living with anxiety intertwined with a heartwarming love story that complements — rather than consumes — Maeve’s narrative.

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  • Crying Laughing

    by Lance Rubin

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    A budding comedian, Winnie’s always been able to find the funny side to life. Her tenth-grade year, however, is going to require a lot more effort. Between friend drama, boy drama, and the family secrets that surface after her beloved dad (a fellow comedian) is diagnosed with ALS, Winnie’s starting to realize just how unfair life can be sometimes. Good thing tears and laughter have always been a winning combo.

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  • What I Carry

    by Jennifer Longo

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    Muiriel (nicknamed Muir, for the John Muir Hospital where she was abandoned as an infant) is about to age out of the foster care system after a life spent shuttling from placement to placement. So when she’s sent to her last home, she’s prepared to bide her time and follow her policy of no attachments. What she isn’t prepared to find is a loving foster mother, a supportive best friend, and a potential boyfriend. Hopeful and affirming, What I Carry is an essential read.

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  • I Have Lost My Way

    by Gayle Forman

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    Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel are total strangers dealing with difficult pasts when their paths fortuitously collide in New York City. As a single day unfolds, the characters reveal more of their backstories, finding solace and connection in shared vulnerability — and discovering that in helping each other, they might also be able to help themselves.

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  • Anxiety Relief for Teens

    by Regine Galanti, PhD

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    Clinical psychologist Regine Galanti has spent her career helping teens manage anxiety through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and mindfulness techniques, and she brings that approach to readers in this accessible and compassionate guide. With opportunities for reflection, CBT-based tools, and mindfulness practices, readers can tailor Galanti’s advice to their own needs and readiness.

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  • Obviously

    by Akilah Hughes

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    Writer, comedian, and YouTuber Akilah Hughes knows that life can be deeply complicated and deeply amusing, and she brings the two together in this hilarious and profound collection of essays on growing up. From the adolescent-specific (like not making the cheerleading team) to the lifelong systemic (see the essay “Racism to a Fifteen-Year-Old Girl”), Hughes’s is the positive but never cloying voice we can all learn from.

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  • Dancing at the Pity Party

    by Tyler Feder

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    Tyler Feder was in college when she lost her mother to cancer. In this bittersweet graphic memoir, Feder celebrates her mother’s life and also recounts the long (and in many ways ongoing) journey of grief — from the first oncology appointments to sitting shiva — and trying to create some semblance of normalcy among peers who just didn’t get it. Sincere and often humorous, Feder’s perspective is validating to teens who’ve experienced grief and valuable for anyone navigating a difficult experience.

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  • Born a Crime

    by Trevor Noah

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    In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah chronicles his coming-of-age in South Africa under and after apartheid. Born to a white father and black mother (a union punishable by law), Noah was kept mostly hidden indoors during his early childhood. How the future Daily Show host maintained his wit and resilience amid a country enduring the aftershocks of colonialism — and survived typical teen perils of, say, dating in high school — are the subject of this celebrated bestseller. Younger teens may prefer the adapted version, It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime.

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  • Take in the Good

    by Gina Biegel, illustrated by Breanna Chambers

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    Building on research in neuroplasticity and the brain’s negativity bias, Gina Biegel offers an activity journal with art projects, writing prompts, and exercises to help teenagers “take in the good” — that is, retrain their brains to remember positive experiences in order to inspire confidence and calm amid a stressful world.

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