From the team that launched the highly popular and inspirational Chicken Soup series comes Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Letters, a collection of reactions from teens and others around the world who have read the various volumes of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. These heartfelt letters, stories, and poems invoke a wide range of feelings and reactions as the contributors speak out on topics that range from the tragic and melancholy to the celebratory and joyous. There is humor, pathos, wisdom, hindsight, pain, and passion -- all of it designed to inspire, inform, and instruct.
Here are amazing stories from teens who have overcome tremendous obstacles, including physical deformities, sexual abuse, drug addiction, incarceration, debilitating depression, and overwhelming grief. Some of the letters are pleas to others who are troubled or lost; some are words of gratitude expressed to those who have reached out, supported, or simply been there; and still others are expressions of grief from teens mourning the loss of friends and loved ones. The subject matter is sometimes lighthearted but more often gritty, and the issues raised range from things as complex as racism to the simple need to be loved.
The entries are loosely organized into sections that bear such titles as "Lessons Learned," "Sharing and Confiding," "On Giving Back," "Tough Stuff," and "Making a Difference." Many of the letters describe the incredible impact the Chicken Soup series has had on the contributor and/or someone they know. There are also letters from several organizations who work with and support teens. You only have to read a handful of these letters to realize the awesome power of this inspirational series, and while the Chicken Soup books may be, as one topic heading says, "Changing Lives One Story at a Time," this collection of letters is proof positive of its incredible snowball effect. (Beth Amos)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Parents and teachers join with teen voices in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Letters: Letters of Life, Love and Learning edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger. The authors of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, after receiving so many thank-you letters in response to the book, decided to compile many of them here. The letters begin with gratitude, but often wind up as a tool for sharing experiences, whether those of a teacher in a juvenile detention center, a 15-year-old struggling with cystic fibrosis or a vice principal of a high school who discusses a theft and the power of forgiveness. ( Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The Chicken Soup books have been overwhelmingly popular and the ones directed toward teens have drawn in many teenagers who wouldn't ordinarily pick up a book. This one is a compilation of a few of the thousands of letters that were sent to the editors to thank them and tell how they were affected by the books. The letters are divided up into categories: Dear Chicken Soup; Overcoming Obstacles; Thank You; Insights and Lessons; Tough Stuff; and Helping Others. The letters come from the heart and will bring tears to the reader's eyes. At the end of the book the contributors are profiled. This is another winner that all school and public libraries who deal with teenagers should have on the shelf. It won't remain there for long! KLIATT Codes: JSRecommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, HCI, 325p. 22cm. 00-053614., $12.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Barbara Jo McKee; Libn/Media Dir., Streetsboro H.S., Stow, OH , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-The contributors range from young teens to college students to professional writers, which is only clear from scanning the "Contributors" list at the end of the book. About two-thirds of the book is what readers might expect from the title: letters that mainly say thank you and others that include personal narratives prompted by "Chicken Soup" stories. Without showing any disrespect to the teens who had the courage to share their experiences, a few of these letters go a long way. The best writing makes up about a third of the book-stories and poems that are interesting, inspirational, and well written, and appear to be submissions in their own right. Buy where "Chicken Soup" products are extremely popular.-Amy A. Healey, Loyola Academy Resource Center, Wilmette, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Bonding with Notebooks
"Today could be the day that my mom realizes I'm growing up and gives me some more responsibility."
Dear Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul,
I have always been a real fan of your books and the important lessons of love and understanding that are shared in each of the stories. They have helped me to see things that were not so clear to me. I have received a great deal of comfort from reading many of the stories.
I had been going through some difficult times not so long ago dealing with the pressures of growing up and trying to communicate with my parents, particularly my mother. Our relationship had suffered because of this. When I would get frustrated or angry it seemed like we would end up in some sort of confrontation with each other and not talk about what we were really feeling. I feel like I have overcome those obstacles now, but not without a certain turn of events.
A while back I ran away from home so that I could be far enough away to vent my anger and release some of the pain bottled up inside of me. I stayed away for many hours, well into the night, before I finally decided to return home. When I walked through the front door of my house, I immediately saw all the pain, anger and disappointment on my parents' faces, especially my mother's. For days after the incident, my mom and I were on unfirm ground, to say the least. Everything we did or said was filled with tension until we both eventually snapped. We knew we desperately had to have a talk. We agreed to have breakfast together the next morning. That morning will remain etched in my memory forever. It was a turning point in both of our lives and our relationship.
We decided to go to a local café. On our way to the table I noticed that my mother had two notebooks and some pens. I asked her what they were for. She explained to me that sometimes it is easier to write down our feelings rather than try to talk about them. She then proceeded to hand me a notebook of my own and she kept one for herself. The "rules" for that talk were that she would pick a topic,
and we would write down our feelings about the topic in the form of a letter. It could be as long or as short as we wanted. Our first topic was: "Why I am so angry." I had written a half page worth of stuff, and my mom filled up nearly three pages. I watched tears stream down her face as she wrote. I never realized anyone could hide so much anger and frustration. It could have been that I never paid much attention, either. Sometimes we think we are the only ones with problems, but I was reminded that morning that other people can be hurting just as much.
After she was finished writing we exchanged our notebooks and read what the other had written. As soon as I started reading my mother's words, I began to cry and so did she. When we were finished reading we discussed our feelings. Amazingly enough, it felt like all the anger I had welled up inside of me drained from my body. Our talk helped me realize so many things I had never thought of before,
not only about my mother but about other people as well.
My mother and I continue to use our notebooks as a means of communicating our anger and frustrations, and our happiness also. We know that no matter how we feel about each other, our notebooks are a safe place to express it. We have made a pact that at the end of each letter we write, "I love you." Here are two of our more recent entries:
I just wanted you to know that some things I do are not meant to hurt or spite you. When I yell at you it's not because I hate you. And when I tell you I hate you, you should know that I really don't, although at times I feel like you hate me. Sometimes you just make me really mad and frustrated, and I don't know what to do with it. Like when you tell me you don't believe me even though I'm not lying, or when you do things that invade my privacy without my permission that you know I won't like. For instance, the other day you searched my room without
me knowing or being there. I just wanted to hate you so much then. Then today you yelled at me, and it made me so mad. I really don't think there is much more to say right now. I love you.
And my mother's response to my letter:
I realize that you get mad and frustrated, but I do, too. I don't want you to think that since I am an adult I don't have feelings. As much as you think that I might like it, I don't like yelling at you. I just wish you would help out a little more with the family and around the house. It would make things easier on me. Some things I do, like searching your room or not believing you, are not done to be mean. I only do those things if I have good cause. Sometimes you worry me, but it's just because I care. Although you might not think so, you yell at me as much as I yell at you. It hurts my feelings as well. Sometimes I just want to cry. I'm glad you told me how you felt about all those things. I'll try to work on my temper with you, and I'll try to be more patient if you will return the same courtesy to me and help me out a little around the house. If this is not okay, tell me and we can try to work something out. I love you.
We gained a special gift that day at the restaurant and we continue to be blessed with each other's everlasting love and patience. I am now a firm believer that we all need to express our feelings in order to live healthy lives. Thank you so much for letting me share this with you.
All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Letters
by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher.
Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL