January Reading List: Three Books for Latino Teens
Adolescence can be a trying time (as any mother knows). And many a smart, sensitive teen has become lost in pages of books, where the underdog always wins, young love is the most intense, and only the clear, bright mind of a teen can see light in the dark world of grown ups.
Books are one of the first major ways young people connect with the larger world. Through stories they discover ways of seeing the world that last much longer than those gleaned from television or films. Arm them with stories that inspire their journey, are sympathetic to today’s bullying and show them that there are adults who can light their way.
Here are three reads to add to your teen’s bookshelf.
By Paulo Coelho
The teen years are fraught with new and powerful social structures whether at school or in the family. Going against social and cultural expectations can be terrifying. Although not penned for young readers, The Alchemist, which has become one of the best-known inspirational tomes of our generation, may be a perfect read for young adults. Via its story of a young man on a quest to fulfill his personal legend, it serves as a spirited reminder to that it is ok to buck the trappings of expectations and instead seek the wisdom needed to create their own life. Parents will be relieved at its insistence on caution, wisdom and thoughtfulness, while teens will welcome the book’s appreciation for the clear eyes and ambition of young people.
How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay
By Julia Alvarez
Knopf Books for Young Readers
It’s the last day of January when the adventure begins. In the midst of the parents’ divorce and having just moved from New York City to rural Vermont, Miguel, his sister and his mother are starting anew with the help of Tía Lola. Her colorful dress and even brighter personality help breathe new life into the family struggling to find footing after At times endearing, at others embarrassing, Tía is at once a welcome, grounding reminder of the home they left behind as well as a constant reminder of just how different and unusual the family is in Vermont. By exploring themes of divorce, happiness, moving and starting over, the book carefully handles family upheaval and how young kids can deal with the ramifications of things out of their control. Since the book’s original publication, Alvarez has written a series of stories about Tía Lola and her adventures.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
By Meg Medina
Piddy Sanchez has got it all going for her. But when an unexpected move puts her in a new school, she becomes the target of Yaqui Delgado’s fury. Spurred by the mistaken belief that Piddy’s using her blossoming body to lure her boyfriend away, Yaqui enlists the help of her tough friends to terrorize Piddy, who until this point, was busy looking for info on the father she never knew.
The terrifying nature of bullying today is exponentially more violent and damaging than much of what was experienced by modern parents. The aim of bullying is to destroy – to target, isolate and destruct the victim through physical or emotional violence. What’s worse, it’s not uncommon for these humiliating encounters to make their way to social media – and in ways not done before – the bullying and degradation become part of a young person’s digital identity, something covered in the book. Yaqui Delgado is a tough book, but it’s one kids need. In honest, frank language, it acknowledges the truth that bullying is emotionally and mentally damaging, but also impart another truth – that it passes. One day it may all be a bad memory and anyone who lived through it comes out the other end wiser and, though not undamaged, scrappier and stronger.