o Sidebars, quizzes and polls, skill-building activities, and resources
o Real-life stories from real-life teens
o Focuses on the hot-button issues that matter most to this age group
2/1/08 VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
Scholastic Choices magazine, a monthly supplement for family and consumer sciences, life skills, and health teachers, reworks some of its concepts into a topical series for young adults intended to help them develop life skills. With antecedents such as these, it is not surprising that these books have a magazine-like feel to them, with glossy pages, lots of photos and graphics, an eye-catching layout with sidebars and boxes, and even tests and quizzes. There is solid content behind the slick facade, though. Out of Control delves into the physical and emotional roots of anger, exploring the differences between healthy and unhealthy reactions, and discussing anger-management techniques. Smart Money covers basics like getting a job and spending wisely, but it also explains some of the more confounding aspects of money management, such as reading a bank statement, understanding the taxes taken out of your paycheck, and how investing earns money. Other books in the series focus on depression, competition, drug and alcohol use, and friendship.
The books have appropriate back matter, with Web sites chosen for longevity as well as relevance, and a handful of additional reading that is fairly current. Glossaries define unfamiliar terms and thorough indexes direct readers and report writers to concepts of interest. The series is marketed to grades seven through twelve, but older or more mature readers might find these books insufficient for projects or papers and not meaty enough to satisfy a genuine interest in the topic. In a classroom setting, where there is a broad range of reading levels, they would be fine tools for starting a discussion or beginning a unit on a particular topic.