Be Special, Be Yourself for Teenagers
The teen years are often full of confusion, frustration and bad communication (mostly with parents), but they don’t have to be.
Get these 8 inspiring short stories about teens who succeed
Read about teenagers, their challenges and difficulties and how they overcame them, including body image, peer pressure, parental pressure, domestic violence, school challenges socially and with teachers, learning difficulties, love, hate, sex and relationships. The characters in the book want very much to be accepted and to fit in, but invariably, they triumph by being true to themselves.
- Visit the future, where a magic powder makes everyone skinny, no matter how much they eat, and meet Sam, who is a “healthy” girl.
- Meet Michelle, a beautiful girl who must make a tough choice.
- Meet Adam, who came from another country and has to adjust.
- Read the diary of Jessie, a dyslexic girl, who struggles to be “normal”.
- Join Mrs. Cooper’s students as they try to be fair to everyone in a building that models society.
- Meet Tommie, who has to be brave, share his secret and face his fears.
- Follow Tom, Sue, Max, Kathleen, Grace, Lorraine, Alice, Sofia and Sam, who go out of their way to be loved.
- And meet Daniel, who discovers just how much his mother loves him.
Keep Trying, No Matter What
Be Special, Be Yourself for Teenagers says you might try something and fail, but trying it differently will give you different results. It beautifully shows that not everyone who looks perfect has a perfect life. Keep trying, no matter what.
The greatest message to parents and teenagers is ‘Never give up. There’s always a way through’.
I loved it!
Jennifer Masterton, 16 Years Old, Australia
Take a peek inside Be Special, Be Yourself for Teenagers
Read the beginning of each story and see what teenage readers felt after reading it.
Story 1: Bojé’s Magic Powder
Sam wanted to disappear when Toni was handing out the invitations to her party. She felt different from everyone. During the previous year, she had been invited to some of the parties, but she was tired of trying to fit in. The girls would dance in slow motion, spend all their time talking about food and diets and continue to eat ‘ordered’ food like ice creams, sweets and cakes. At those parties, she found herself standing next to them, but never taking part. They were all jealous of her. The boys were always trying to get her attention and when they asked how she managed to stay in such great shape, she could never find the words to tell them that she really didn’t have a choice. If she explained, they wouldn’t understand what she meant when she said ‘healthy food’. Every day, in the cafeteria, the girls discussed her figure. When they were trying to find the solution to the problem of the 22nd century, she felt lonely. The girls hated her for looking so good. When they ate ‘ordered’ masterpieces, she ate fruit. When they drank beer, cocktails and colorful juices, she drank water.Toni approached her. Toni was skinny but popular. She saw Sam as a pretty and full girl amongst a bunch of ‘sticks’. No wonder Sean had a crush on her. She’d promised him she would invite Sam and she intended to keep her promise. She stood next to Sam and handed her the invitation.
‘Friday, the 8th of July 2112,’ Sam read and smiled awkwardly, ‘Thank you.’
‘I hope you can come,’ said Toni. She really wanted her to come, but she knew Sam wouldn’t think so.
Sam smiled. It had been a while since she had last been invited to a party and she really wanted to go. She thought about her mom, who didn’t want her to feel different and her dad telling her: ‘Some opportunities come only once in a lifetime.’
‘Thank you,’ she said again and left the classroom.
We all diet. We just don’t really know why.
Story 2: Beauty Queen
Michelle closed her books when she heard the bell. Hugging her books, she walked slowly to the dance hall, feeling that everyone was looking at her. She was pretty and all her ‘friends’ looked at her in jealousy. They hated her exotic beauty. They envied her straight A’s. They said she was sucking up to the teachers, but Michelle didn’t want to explain that it was because she read a lot. She refused to defend herself.’I have too much on my mind to explain how I get my grades,’ she told her best friend, her only friend, Sam.
Michelle was quiet most of the time and never said anything to win their friendship, which made them even more upset.
When she left school at the end of the day, no one saw her in any of the afternoon activities. Her parents never came to school and no one knew if she had any siblings. Some people said they had seen her at the shopping center with a very old woman. In 10th grade, she became best friends with Sam, and Sam was never willing to participate in the gossip, so Michelle’s life outside school remained a mystery. Everyone knew she lived in the pink house at the edge of the city, but no one had ever been there. Before she came to parties on Fridays, the girls would sit in a group and gossip about her. Sam would look at them with contempt and say, ‘You’re so mean. Don’t you have anything better to do?’ but she would never explain and they never knew why.
Only Sam knew.
In 10th grade, when a teacher made her pay a visit to Michelle with homework she missed when she was sick, Sam discovered it.
I felt bad at the end, but I would have done the same thing.
Story 3: Be Special, Be Yourself
It was lunch break on Wednesday. Adam ate quickly, trying to get to his Junior School Council meeting on time. He had tried saying that Wednesdays weren’t so good for these meetings, because all 7th grade students were in music rehearsals during the second half of the break. Mrs McMillan, the Junior School Council Coordinator had said it was the only time she could be there and could they please not eat during meetings.All the council members had looked at each other, but no one had said anything.
This happened every other Wednesday. Three members of the school council rushed from the meeting to the music rehearsal, taking bites in-between songs. ‘Did you have a Junior School Council meeting again?’ asked Mrs Pearce, the Music teacher.
‘Yes,’ Adam replied and took another bite of his sandwich.
‘Did you tell Mrs McMillan about the rehearsal?’ she asked, trying to give them more time to eat.
‘We did,’ said Matt.
Mrs Pearce hardly managed to hide her disappointment, but she said cheerfully, ‘Never mind. I don’t mind you eating during rehearsals. Just try not to sing with your mouth full,’ she smiled and helped them set up on stage.
Adam decided not to mention the rehearsal again to Mrs McMillan. He didn’t want to get in trouble. ‘Get in trouble’ was a common expression in Australia. His friends used it a lot to warn each other and it always sounded to him like a matter of life or death.
It’s the same for me. It is so hard, so hard to be me, I don’t even know what it means.
Story 4: Curly Line with Flowers (Parents and Teens’ Favorite!)
This story is dedicated to all the people with learning difficulties, like dyslexia, and to the wonderful parents and specialists who enable them to make it in the world.
This is the ferst time I am raiting, jast raiting. Mises hart geiv me this daiery and told me to rait. She promised me no one wood rid it. she geiv me the book and sed ‘this book is for you to rait evrything you hav in maind,no one is going to look at this book but you. I want you to rait without thinking abaoot your speling misteiks, just as you are toking to me naoo.’ I felt so relived, I coodent weit to get home and rait. I had so many words in my hed that I wanted to say, and never felt I cood rait them daoon.
I felt so streing when she geiv me the book. Mom looked at her and I cood see som tirs in her eyes, I fliped the pages and I so that evry few peiges she rote sam sentenses with her beutifool hand raiting. On the frest pege she rote
‘Never, Never, Never Give up’
It was only words but it geiv me so mach strength. I think that I fooly
understood the mining of not giving up.
I fil streing raiting to myself, it is a bit fany, but I laik it. mom bot me thos gel pens and I laik the wey the ink flos from them ontoo the peiper. It looks olmost laik a droing. I laik cheinging colors evry fyoo lains.
The day mom said we are going to see this leidy, I was working on my pictcher, I looked at her with disper and sed ‘why can’t you giv up mom?’
‘never’ she sed konfidentli.
Difficulties are only opportunities in disguise. There is lots of help out there and we are not alone.
Story 5: The Building of Life
Mrs Cooper was going over the newspaper in the staff room when Chris and Sam came to ask for her advice. She was their home-group teacher and students often came to see her. She smiled at them.’Hi, Mrs Cooper. We had a problem at our class meeting. Sam thinks we need to ask you to come to our next meeting,’ said Chris.
‘We were trying to decide whether to charge a bit extra for our Mother’s Day stall to help some of the kids that have no money, or leave it the way it is,’ said Sam.
‘It turned out to be a big fight,’ added Chris.
‘Just like it is every time we discuss politics,’ smiled Mrs Cooper.
‘It was worse. We had to physically separate six children that almost hit one another. Kristy left the meeting crying and Julie left after her.’
Mrs Cooper didn’t like the sound of this at all. Having different opinions was OK, but getting into fights and making people cry was unacceptable.
‘Some kids said they didn’t want to help the students who could afford lunch orders in the canteen. Others said it was not the children’s fault they didn’t have pocket money. They started calling one another names and pretty soon we couldn’t have a civilized conversation anymore,’ said Sam.
‘We sounded exactly like politicians in the Senate. It was really bad,’ added Chris.
Mrs Cooper had been looking for the right moment for a long time. She had written this lesson plan a long time before. She smiled at Sam and Chris. ‘We will discuss this in our next Social Studies lesson,’ she said, and the two students left the staff room.
It was a good way to look at justice. It seemed so easy at first … do you mean voting is that complicated?
Story 6: The Guidance Counselor
Tommie paced nervously by her door. Every time he went to the toilet, he tried to get near it to check her grade 10 reception hours, but the nearby administration office attracted many students, which made that difficult for him. Tommie didn’t know where he could get the energy to be optimistic.Every year, he had thought he would grow up. Tommie had looked for the point in time that would make him big and tough, having enough strength to cope. Instead, he had found his clothes getting smaller. He’d had another birthday and had joined a new class. Every year he had hoped and had been disappointed.
He washed his hands and went back to class. In class, Tommie sat alone at a side desk. He had no friends and the quietness that stuck to him kept them all away. His pain had many facets.
Every lesson that day, he had gone to the toilet, hoping no one would see him walking into her room.
She was strange. The first time he had seen her had been in the general student assembly. Everyone was listening to her quiet, hypnotizing voice. During break, they whispered that she must be having an affair with Mr Kline, the high school principal. Mr Kline, who had been a widower for many years, kept on talking about her with admiration, despite the gossip. The first time he had introduced her, he had said, ‘This is Sam Peterson, our new guidance counselor. Some of her methods are a bit unusual, but they work,’ and the teachers had felt a bit uncomfortable.
It had taken her three months to establish a student council that ran the school in an extraordinary way. When all the teachers hated her, the students became her devoted fans and were willing to follow her through fire. She protected them passionately. The students were afraid that one day she would slip and quote the things they told her in the secrecy her room, but she didn’t.
It was about handling bullying through inner strength. Some adults are OK.
Story 7: Love Me, Love Me Not (Parents and Teens’ Favourite!)
Tom took his nose ring off and examined himself in the mirror. The ring had been bothering him for two weeks now and he considered taking it out. Whenever he took it out, he felt relieved, but at the same time, he felt defeated. Mrs Purdy, his English teacher, commented on his nose ring and his hair all the time and even sent him to the office to be scolded by the deputy principal, Mrs Sherwood. In the deputy’s office, he defended the ring like a skilled lawyer and asked Mrs Sherwood if she thought she could present the school as being open-minded with equal rights if the girls could wear earrings and boys couldn’t.The deputy principal, who taught him Math and liked him a lot, sat him in her office and asked him fondly, ‘Tell me Tom, how long does it take you every morning to do this Mohawk?’
‘As long as it takes you to blow-dry your hair,’ he answered and smiled. Tom liked going to the deputy’s office. He felt they understood each other very well. ‘I’m very efficient with my blow-dryer. I finish styling my hair in no time.’ ‘I’m very efficient with my hair styling, too. I bought this new gel. Isn’t it nice?’ he said and gently touched his long spikes.
‘It’s very original, I must say. We’re done with the hair style issue, aren’t we?’
‘You brought it up again,’ he countered.
Tom was the best student in school. At some point, he had decided that his geeky image really bothered him. He had considered failing some exams, so the others wouldn’t say he was a geek, but then he had decided against it. He had then started doing his hair in a Mohawk. He had received many comments from teachers and the deputy principal had told him it was very hard to fight what people thought.
‘I am what I have inside, not my hair style,’ he had told her.
Grown-ups are just human. I loved this story and I asked my mom to read it too.
Story 8: Biography
In the morning, when Daniel was waiting for Anna, he saw them singing. It had been two months since he had started waiting for her for the short morning walk towards school. In the last few days, he had noticed they were singing. At 8:15, Anna, her mom, her brother and her younger sister were sitting in the car and singing. The windows were shut and he could only see their lips moving. Then her mom stopped, they finished the song and kissed each other goodbye.
‘Good morning, Daniel,’ said Anna.
‘Hi, Anna. What do you do in the car every morning?’ Daniel asked, tightening the straps on his backpack as they started walking. ‘Singing,’ she said, smiling uncomfortably. She never thought anyone would notice.
‘What do you sing?’
‘All kinds of stuff. My mom records songs about peace, hope, motivation, love. She says that when you sing, your body releases happiness chemicals. She says singing sets you free.’
‘Is your mom into music or something?’ asked Daniel.
‘No, she’s a doctor. She was a doctor in Croatia,’ said Anna proudly.
‘Now she’s a mom. Just a mom.’
‘And how is that related to songs?’ Daniel was curious.
‘She thinks it’s her role to give us happiness. She says not all people can sing. Many like to listen to music, but then they only taste freedom.’
We should all do an autobiography. I know I should.
More Feedback from Teenage Readers
I Really Love the Book
We face peer pressure every day, so it’s cool to read a book that goes against everything people look for.
Be happy with yourself, you are the only person you will answer to, in the end. If you have enough determination, you can do anything.
Be Special, Be Yourself for Teenagers is on of my top 10 book list. I love it!
There is really hope!
Stephanie Cook, 16 Years Old
There Will Always Be Someone There to Help You
Be Special, Be Yourself for Teenagers has taught me that being different can be a good thing and we shouldn’t change our beliefs just because they’re not what most people think.
People are special not because of how beautiful or popular they are, but because of what kind of person they are inside. The book encouraged me not to be afraid to ask for help. No matter what problem you have, there will always be someone there to help you and someone to listen to you and you should never give up.
I learned that if I try my hardest, I will get what I want and that sometimes the things that I want most can be right under my nose…
Penny Johnston, 14 Years Old, Australia
About the author Ronit Baras
Ronit Baras is an author, a life coach, a journalist and a motivational speaker. Born with a physical disability to a migrant family, Ronit battled with childhood illness, was kicked out of high school and endured the loss of two children. Yet, she transformed her life into a living example of “mind over matter”.
Ronit completed a degree in Special Education (with flying colors), specialized in emotional intelligence while travelling and working around the world with her husband and kids, published numerous articles, wrote personal growth books and coached many people to happiness.
Ronit’s journey from sickness to health, from failure to success and from sadness to happiness will captivate every reader. Against all odds, with passion, determination and “can do” attitude, she turned each challenge in her life into great success. Ronit is an expert in personal development, specializing in accelerated learning, communication, relationships, parenting, work-life balance, self-confidence and stress management.