I love teenagers. I write for them. They are living through a transformative phase in their lives where they move from cute child to responsible adult. It is much like the growth of a monarch from fuzzy caterpillar to graceful butterfly. But in between, the butterfly must build a chrysalis and writhe out of it before emerging to spread its wings toward the sun. For both butterflies and people, it is a time of rapid change and immense struggle. To support a teen through such a time is fascinating. Although small children require our help in obvious ways, the needs of a teen are more subtle and varied.

There has been some debate in the news lately about how much homework is good or bad for high school students. My personal opinion is that they are overworked. They have so much formative growth going on inside and socially that they need more time to recuperate between due dates for assignments. Schools vary in rigor and philosophy on this, and once your teen is registered at a school, he or she must work within that system.

So what can a parent, aunt or uncle, family friend or grandparent do? I think we are all in a position to boost morale. Take a teen out for a bite to eat. Listen to them talk about what’s happening in their life. Share some uplifting music in their favorite style (I know teens who like rap, classical, pop, jazz and more). Go on a fun outing together.

Or—of course—give them a book. Much of the reading they are doing at this point is heavy. They are examining the foibles of human nature and the mistakes of world governments. They are doing presentations, writing essays and taking exams on this material. They are learning complex math, science and language. Some teens are competing really hard for top grades. Others are struggling to pass. Kids in both positions can feel overwhelmed. So what kind of book can reverse that feeling and not just give them more work to do?

Find a picture-loaded book that is light on text, featuring one of their hobbies or interests, for example: horses, robotics, airplanes, cats, dogs, seashells, friendship bracelets, outer space, cooking, rocks & minerals, drawing, gardening, photography—you know (or can learn) what transports them from a stress-loaded environment to the world of hope and imagination.

Bring a smile to a teen’s face. Put a dreamy look in those eyes. Help this person you love disconnect from what’s weighing them down. Buy a teen a book!

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.