Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

Title: Gym Candy

Author: Carl Deuker

Publisher: Perfection Learning          Year: 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1606863763

Genre: Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Awards: Printz Honor Book Award, a National Book Award nomination, Golden Kite award, the Edgar Allen Poe Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Themes / Subjects: Young Adult, High School, Family Life, Sports, Health – Steroids, Friendships, Coming of Age

Plot Summary:

Check out my booktalk trailer I created with!

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

My Take:

I am not a football person at all. When I was in high school marching band and had to go to all the football games, I would hide books in my uniform and read when I wasn’t playing. I watch the Super Bowl every year and even then I fast forward during the game to watch the commercials and half time show. Did I mention I strongly dislike football?

With that said and off my chest, I loved this book! All the football jargon confused me a little bit but honestly it wasn’t overwhelming. The best part was getting to see the darker side of sports. I’ve always heard about professional athletes using steroids on the news and never thought that it would begin as young as freshman in high school. This book in no way encourages the use of steroids and really goes to great length and detail to show just how screwed up Mick’s life became all because he wanted to be the best. Parents who push their children to be star athletes need to read this because I don’t think they realize the consequences their actions can have on their kids. And all kids whether they are pressured to be the best or not should read this book because it will cause them to think twice about trying any sort of drugs.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars … while I can’t say it has turned me on to being a football fan, this book has caused me to really examine the pressures we put our young athletes under.

Similar read: Boost by Kathryn Mackel. Whereas Deuker explores the use of steroids in male athlets, Mackel takes the readers into the girls locker room for a change.

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It Gets Better

Name: It Gets Better


Description: The It Gets Better project first began in September 2010 when syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. The project reminds young people in the LGBT community that they are not alone, and things will get better if they can just get through their teen years. contains more than 40,000 user-created videos from around the world including submissions from politicians, celebrities, activists, media personalities, and everyday people. The videos show young people who are gay, bi, or transgender how love and happiness is in their future and a whole community (both gay and straight) of support.

Review: It Gets Better is an amazing site that sends LGBT teens a very important message: You are not alone and things will get better. This site offers teen a space where they can go and watch/listen to inspirational stories from successful LGBT adults who are now leading fulfilling and happy lives. Not only are their testimonials from LGBT members, but also the straight community creating a community of acceptance and support for those teens struggling with acceptance and hopelessness.

My only concern with the site, is that immediately upon visiting the site, users are prompted to “Take the Pledge.” This requires users to provide their first and last name, email address and zip code. Beneath the pledge is an option to skip this step and proceed to videos. Users can engage in the blog or upload their own videos, however, this information becomes property of the website and is stored online indefinitely. Users need to be aware of privacy and safety issues before releasing any information.

Educational Application: The website can be a means of opening up discussions either at school or with families regarding accepting diversity, bullying and cyberbullying, and what the appropriate actions are to handle similar situations.

Similar/Related Sites of Interest: This site is specifically designed with LGBT youth in mind and really focuses on what teens are going through now.

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Sex, Etc.

Name:Sex, ETC.


Description: Sex, Etc. is part of the Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Project developed by Answer, a national organization dedicated to providing and promoting comprehensive sexuality education to young people and the adults in their lives. It includes frank, fact-based information about anatomy, safer sex, resisting sexual pressure, pregnancy options, sexual orientation, and a range of other issues related to sexual health and relationships.

Review: This site is both colorful and engaging and goes way beyond what is simply discussed in schools. One of my favorite features of Sex, Etc. is that it focuses on first-person stories and contains many articles written by teen contributors and edited by staff. Hearing from peers reassures teens that they are not alone when it comes to questions regarding their bodies and sexual health. The site also recognizes the myths and misinformation delivered through media and encourages teens to think critically about what they see and hear. One of the best features of the site is how much interaction there is! After reading articles, users can play games which demonstrate their understanding of what they have learned.

Educational Application: Teens are absorbing information about sex almost on a daily basis. It’s on almost all the magazine covers at the checkout lines of stores, the radio, in music, on TV, and in movies. So how do they know what is a trustworthy source of information? Many teens are afraid of approaching their parents about sex and even “the talk” at school can be a bit unsettling. Teachers and parents can rest assured that the information provided on the Sex, Etc. website is accurate and up-to-date. Although the website is touted as “Sex education by teens, for teens” there is quite a bit of professional moderation to ensure that teens are not given the wrong information.  This is an excellent site for health classes to visit because of the fun, educational games that accompany the articles. The design is engaging without being childish and easy to navigate. The parents and educators link provides training and resources which can accompany the Sex, Etc. site and help parents and educators navigate teens through the topic of sexual health.

Similar/Related Sites of Interest: The design of this site is not as cool or teen friendly as Sex, Etc. but it has really great resources and actually links to Sex, Etc!

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Name: WatchKnow


Description: Launched by Larry Sanger, the cofounder of Wikipedia, and promoted as “YouTube for kids” WatchKnow is a safe and educational wiki hosting more than a thousand educational videos and other media for kids. The majority of the video clips are reposted from kid-friendly sites such as National Geographic and TeacherTube. The site is geared towards kids ages 3-18 so parents do not need to worry about inappropriate content or ads.

Review: This site is supposed to contain videos for ages 3-18 years old, yet I found many of the videos to be geared towards little kids. Explain to me, how can one video be for ages 3-18? The page itself is very basic but also extremely easy to navigate. I found videos the fasted by simply typing in the subject/topic I was looking for in the search box. The videos I did find were of great quality and easy to load on the computer. Although it is geared for kids, I don’t think teens would come to this site on their own.

Educational Application: This site is free and has thousands of videos on a variety of subjects/topics which makes it a beneficial resource to any teacher. The categories and subcategories are easy to navigate, yet the quickest method of searching is by using the search engine. Registered users can edit video descriptions and ratings which would help improve the site.

Similar/Related Sites of Interest: A site of educational links provides users with information covering almost every topic that comes to mind.

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