The best books to teach teens how to love themselves

The Books I Picked & Why

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

By Resmaa Menakem

Book cover of My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

Why this book?

I love this book because it helps us understand the context for how we feel and what is going on with us from ancestral trauma. Many teens feel like they are crazy or messed up for feeling what they feel when they are having a normal human reaction to a situation. This book will help them see that and guides a way forward in healing it. It also addresses racism in such a helpful and necessary way! 


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Love

By Leo F. Buscaglia

Book cover of Love

Why this book?

Love is a word that not many of us understand, but Buscaglia explains it so well. When people use the word "love," they express their understanding of love at that moment. There is no universal definition of love. Sometimes teens don’t know if they love themselves because it is not tangible. This book helps them know that they are worthy of that love. Love changed my life when I was in high school. It helped me understand myself and influenced my life purpose: to be kind and in solidarity with people. When I work with teens, they often feel untethered by not having, and not knowing, their purpose. In my book, I teach how important a goal is to feel good about yourself, and setting one is much simpler than you think it is! It helps motivate them to get over their anxiety.


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The Hate U Give

By Angie Thomas

Book cover of The Hate U Give

Why this book?

A purpose gets teens out of their heads and engaged in living. It is a key to happiness because that's what our mind, body, and soul crave. 

This is for high school readers! Sometimes lessons come easier in fictional novels. We can learn about people and gain understanding through stories. The Hate U Give is about a teenage girl who is Black. She walks between two worlds, her fancy white school, and her poor neighborhood. When her friend is murdered, readers get a taste, or validation of what it is like to lose someone so close in the most public way. It is a must-read to understand the effects of police violence and the time of viral social media. 


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Sacred Medicine: A Doctor's Quest to Unravel the Mysteries of Healing

By Lissa Rankin

Book cover of Sacred Medicine: A Doctor's Quest to Unravel the Mysteries of Healing

Why this book?

Rankin is a doctor who is disheartened by allopathic medicine and is looking for the answers to how we heal in this exploration of different and ancient perspectives of gaining wellness. To solve the mental health crisis, we have to solve the physical health crisis because they are connected. Rankin talks about what disease does to the mind and what the mind does to disease, empowering people to take healing into their own hands. This is how we want to raise our kids to think about wellness. In this tell-all, she debunks the myths of healing and explains the unexplainable in a way that engages our agency in our healing process giving us empowered hope.


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Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

By Marieke Nijkamp

Book cover of Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

Why this book?

This is an anthology for teens that explores disability from a fictional lens, so that it entertains as it teaches tolerance and compassion. Each short story’s author lives with a disability and writes about first loves, friendship, hardship, and adventure. Unbroken is for teen readers to step into the shoes of teens with disabilities so that they can understand other experiences besides their own. Understanding differences and recognizing one’s own positionality and privilege helps teen find their own agency, purpose, and empowered hope for the future. 


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