tween Posts

Help Your Tween Girl Avoid the Comparison Game by Sherry Kyle

Tyndale Kids

When was the last time you heard your tween girl compare herself with others?

Maybe the person she is comparing herself to is better at sports, gets better grades, or has more friends. Or maybe she has perfect hair, flawless skin, and can sing and dance.

Maybe your daughter feels like a loser with a capital L.

Most of the time, tween girls feel awkward in their bodies and hope their BFF still wants to be friends. Most of the time, tween girls want to know they are loved.

How do you help your daughter in times like these? How do you help her understand God’s unconditional love?

  • As a parent, before you can do anything for your daughter, you need to understand God’s unconditional love for yourself. When you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you will understand the sacrifice he made for you—and for your girl.
  • Next, show your daughter how much you love her. If you love your child during the good times and the frustrating, get-on-your-last nerve times, you are telling her that nothing she does will make you love her any less. By loving her through thick and thin, you are showing God’s unconditional love.
  • Finally, get your daughter connected. Are you part of a church? Are there people in your daughter’s life who can speak God’s unconditional love to her? Do you have books for her to read that encourage and inspire?

Love, Lexi: Letters to God is an award-winning and exciting devotional experience for girls ages eight through fourteen. Each entry starts with a fictional letter to God from seventh-grader Alexis Dawn Cooper, a.k.a. Lexi, who humorously shares with God what’s going on in middle school and her life.

Love, Lexi: Letters to God also includes responses directly from God’s Word, short devotional thoughts, and journaling pages for your daughter to share her story.

Your tween girl will discover, along with Lexi, that when she compares herself with others, it’s easy to feel like she doesn’t measure up. She’ll always be able to find someone who she feels is better than her in some area. But God created her special and one-of-a-kind, and He loves her just the way she is—with her unique looks, talents, and personality. God loves her hair, the shape of her nose, the color of her skin, and the sound of her laugh. Your tween girl is made in God’s image and exactly how He designed her to be.

By the end, Lexi learns to seek God first above all else. And by reading Love, Lexi: Letters to God, your daughter will contemplate her own special place in God’s eyes.


Sherry Kyle has written several books for tween girls, along with women’s fiction. Her award-winning book for tween girls, The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, was awarded the God Mom’s Choice Award. Her second nonfiction book for girls, The Girl’s Guide to Your Dream Room, was nominated for the Christian Retailers Best Awards.


 

4 Books Every Middle Schooler Should Read by Stephanie Rische

Middle Grade Books for SummerThe Boxcar Children had a boxcar to hide out in. The Pevensie kids had a magical wardrobe. Jesse and Leslie had Terabithia. Me? I had my very own tree fort.

When I was a kid, summer meant tucking a book under my chin and climbing up the big elm in the front yard. About two-thirds of the way up was my reading spot—a “V” between branches that was cozy enough for me to be able to turn the pages of my latest read without having to hang on.

The old elm tree has been cut down since then, and even if it were still standing, I’m quite certain I wouldn’t fit in my old reading spot. There comes a time, after all, when you’re too old to enter the wardrobe. But even now that I’m a grown-up, when the days get longer and the fireflies signal the start of summer, I make a list of all the books I want to read before September arrives.

If you’re like me, perhaps you’re looking for some summer reads to transport you to another world—whether for your kids or for the kid in you.

Something Old: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This is a book that doesn’t fade with age. It was a favorite from my tree-fort days, and as an adult I continue to peel back the delicious layers of story, as well as the intriguing exploration of space and time. A classic for the whole family.

Something New: The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall

I’ve heard these books described as “modern classics,” and that seems exactly right. They have all the charm, understated humor, and familial love of Little Women, but in a contemporary setting. You will find yourself cheering for the Penderwick children, laughing with them, and wishing you could join their adventures.

Something Borrowed: The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

I checked out this audiobook from the library on a whim, and as soon as I finished, I promptly checked out every other Gary Schmidt I could find. This is the story of the trouble-prone yet incurably likable Holling Hoodhood, a seventh grader growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam War. It’s funny and inspiring—often on the same page.

Something Blue: Larger-than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall

This story is a delight on so many levels. On one level, it’s simply a compelling story, with a protagonist you’re pulling for with every fiber of your being. On another level, it will spark timely and relevant conversations about bullying and true friendship. On top of that, the narrator, Laney, communicates the elements of a story (plot, characters, climax, etc.) as they happen. Finally, it’s an allegory of the most beautiful kind of sacrificial love. I used to be a middle school language arts teacher, and I wish I’d had this book then. I’d have made it required reading for all my students.

Wherever you and your kids find yourselves this summer—on the beach, by a pool, in the air-conditioning, or nestled into your favorite tree—I hope you find some delightful reads to enjoy together.

Kid Talk Tuesday: Journaling as a Discipline

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We are a journaling generation. Journals come in every paper style, color, and texture. Magazines are filled with articles about learning to journal. We journal our prayer lives, our events, and our secrets. And sometimes we figure out our stories in our journals.

For people who love to process life’s experiences, slowing down to dig deep and rethink events on the page allows just the right pace to see God’s hand. Many of us had diaries when we were young, but journaling can move beyond recording daily activities and enter the spiritual realm. And our stories matter to God. Journaling allows us to keep track of God’s influence and work in our lives.

Even if you never plan to write a book about your life, think of your journal as your own book—the story of your life between the pages. Going back through the years and reviewing past interventions from God builds our faith and the knowledge that he’s been with us always, through the good, bad, and very ugly. We see our “old” selves from years ago on the page, and we notice that the traumas that upset us in the past seem so minor in the present day, or that the difficulties we endured changed us .

We have grown.

For young people, tweens especially, starting a journaling discipline can provide a lifetime’s worth of analysis about their experiences, while creating the habit of looking for God’s hand in their days. Sometimes we need to intentionally look back over time and see what God has done for us. Journals record communication with God and his responses to us as we invite him into our struggles—and joys.

Through a nine-month prayer program at my church that requires us to journal regularly after our time with God and then review those entries to share with our small group, the power of journaling has shown me that God uses these quiet moments to speak to listening hearts. Without the discipline of solitude and writing, many of his quiet messages to me would either go unnoticed or be forgotten in the rush of daily life. The lessons have been abundant, but my memory can’t retain all the transformation and information. Journaling has been a rich discipline that allows me to relive, retain, and rethink experiences by adding a good dose of God’s wisdom to events.

978-1-4964-0963-8Tyndale has a great resource to help tween girls in their journaling endeavors. Love, Lexi is part devotional, part journal, and part fictional story of a young girl navigating the challenges of middle school by writing letters to God in her journal. Readers will relate to Lexi’s desires to fit in, gain the attention of boys, and battle her dissatisfaction with her looks.

The Bible is one long story with a beginning, middle, ending, lots of conflict, some foreshadowing that drops hints of Christ’s coming, and a resolution. Our individual stories, which are part of this larger story, show that God pursues us all and joins us in our days so that one day we can enjoy a happy ending with him.

What better way to see his work in shaping our lives than to create a record between the pages of a journal of each day we enjoy with God. And starting to journal at a young age will only add more pages to your book!

Happy writing!

 


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Linda MacKillop is the Acquisitions Editor of Children & Youth at Tyndale House Publishers.

Having Critical Conversations with Preteens – Guest Post by Author Kathy Buchanan

Having those meaningful conversations with preteens can be tough! This week, we have author Kathy Buchanan with some great tips to guide you through it!

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“Yes, Mommy’s underwear is pretty, but let’s find something else for show-and-tell.”

“Please stop licking the wall.”

“We don’t use the dishwasher to clean your gecko. Get it out of there.”

On numerous occasions in my parenting journey, I’ve been surprised by the words that have come out of my mouth. Those “I can’t believe I just said that” moments. You’ve probably had some similar experiences. But on the flip side of the things we never expected to say lie the things we think “of course we’ll talk about” but never do.

My pondering on the subject began when a friend had a health scare. As she told me: “In the middle of this fear about whether I was going to live or die was a fear that I wouldn’t be able to tell my kids all the things I needed to.” She even created a list of all the topics that she wanted to talk to her daughters about. Everything from how God sees them to how they should be treated by a boy, how to budget, and how to stand up for themselves. She listed out pages of these “yet-to-have” conversations. Good news eventually came, and today she’s in perfect health, but she refers to that time as “a gift.” It reminded her that she needed to be more intentional about those meaningful conversations—particularly with her preteen daughters. With daughters of the same age, I had to agree.

It’s great when those conversations come organically, but we can’t rely on that being the case. So last year, I made it a goal to have more intentional meaningful conversations with my eleven-year-old daughter. Talks on boys and dating, self-esteem and body image, marriage and career, connecting with God and “loving the least of these.” The talks that I knew I wanted to make sure we had before she drove off to college in a few short years. And I learned a few things about having these vital discussions.

  1. Set aside a consistent time. For me, it’s bedtime a few evenings a week. With five busy (and loud!) kids in our family, finding that quiet space for a heart-to-heart is a challenge, but our pre-bedtime conversations have become treasured time. I take mental notes throughout the day on topics I want to come back to—issues with friends she mentioned at carpool pickup, a mood or behavior, observations she had at the end of an Adventures in Odyssey episode. During our one-on-one time I ask her about these things.
  2. Listen more than you talk. You might not care that Ellie McElheny got a bloody nose at the cafeteria table or how soggy the cafeteria pizza was. But this time is more about getting your daughter talking, and demonstrating that what matters to her matters to you. If she learns at this age that she can trust your interest in her life, it will be easier for her to share more personal things as she enters the teen years. You’re not merely having a conversation; you’re building trust.
  3. Do a devotional or read a book together. These things become natural jumping-off points for deeper conversations. They bring up questions and ideas that might not normally arise in everyday situations.
  4. Occasionally, plan a night away. Go out for dinner together and stay at a hotel. Or set up a tent in the backyard. If you’re on a tight budget, borrow a friend’s guest room. There’s something about that extended one-on-one time with Mom that opens up doors for more intimate conversations. And those sweet moments watching a movie and eating popcorn in a comfy king-size bed together allow the more personal things to emerge.
  5. Tell your story. We often want to tell our kids only the best about us. But that’s not realistic, and they need to know that. Tell them how you met their dad, what college was like, things you’re proud of, what you regret. Divulge the times you’ve felt close to God—and times when you wondered if he really cared. Share your most embarrassing moments, and your happiest. These aren’t just your stories. They form the fabric of your daughter’s life, as well. They’re part of her heritage.

We only have a few short years with our children, and it’s vital that we have the conversations that matter during that time.

Even more important than getting that gecko out of the dishwasher . . .

Kathy Buchanan is author of Candid Conversations with Connie.

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Guest Post: Ten-Year-Old Starts Study

Jessica's ready for her book club!

Today we have a special guest post from one of our young readers, Jessica Steggerda. One of our authors, Carolyn Larsen, told us about 10-year-old Jessica’s book club that she created specifically for Carolyn’s book, For Girls Only.

Jessica, who recently celebrated her 11th birthday, wanted to share some of her story with you. You can also visit Jessica at her own blog (just click on her name in the first paragraph). Now let’s hear from Jessica!

During church we learned about something and we were challenged to go home and tell our parents what we learned. If we did that we would get a surprise. I told my parents the story we learned at church and my prize was the For Girls Only book. So, I decided that I should do something with the book. I came up with the idea to have a Bible study. I made an invitation to five girls and sent it to them. We met twice a month.

I prepared for each study, by reading the lesson first.  Then, I made an outline with what we would cover each time.  I took the topics in the book and focused on applying them to our own lives.  We would usually talk about the topics in the book and how we could learn from them, and because we didn’t have much time to meet, we only got to lesson 50.  Each time I would assign them homework to do. The homework would usually be two lessons. If they completed their homework by the next time we met, they would get a prize. Every time we met we would have an open prayer, we would discuss the homework, we would read a lesson together and ask each other questions, we would have a closing prayer, prayer requests, and we would have a snack. We learned a whole bunch but I just loved learning about the importance of telling the truth.  We learned about how cheaters never win and how we always need to live life free of attitude.  We also learned the difference between kind words and hurtful words.

I think God used my book club to open the eyes of other girls to do what I did because it was so much fun and I learned a lot about myself and my friends.

Jessica provided books for everyone.

I really would like to finish this book with the girls in my bible study and continue my bible study. I think after this book I would be able to find a wonderful book to do another bible study with. Of course I will be still using a lot more books by Carolyn Larsen. Currently by myself I am using the One Minute Devotions book by Carolyn.

If other girls would like to start a study I would tell them that it is so much fun and to start off all you have to do is find a great book and invite some friends. Then you can make a plan!

My name is Jessica Steggerda, 11. I was 10 when I started the study. Thank you for having me tell you about my experience!

"For Girls Only" Book Club Girls

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story with us!

We hope it will encourage other young readers to start their own book clubs too!

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 NLT

Do you have a story to share about how you’ve used a Tyndale book for ministry or how a Tyndale book has ministered to you? Please share it with us! You can email your story to bloggers(at)tyndale(dot)com. We may use it in a future blog post!