Skip to content

Author: Kimberli Buckley

Kimberli Buckley is a librarian in Northern California and she loves working with tweens and teens. She also worked in a middle school library where she heard the students calling out numerous times "Hey there Mrs. Librarian lady!"

Reality Scoop: Depression in Young Adult Literature

Mental Health Month may be over, but it’s still worth shining a spotlight on teen depression, because it effects people year round. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, recent surveys demonstrate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. At this rate, teen depression has become a critical issue that calls for immediate attention and action. There are many different forms of depression, which include major depression, dysthymia, psychosis, situational depression, and bipolar disorder, a condition that alternates between periods of high spirits and then drops to a low or melancholy state of mind.

Depression can sometimes be tough to diagnose in teens because it is frequently normal for teens to act moody or upset. Adolescence is often a time when teens don’t know how to explain how they are feeling or what they are going through. It can be difficult to determine if they experiencing normal feelings of adolescence or actually displaying symptoms of depression.

Mental Health America (MHA) states that it is not unusual for teens to experience “the blues” or feel “down in the dumps” occasionally. Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with the many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that accompany this stage of life.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are some common emotional changes that could be possible symptoms of teen depression

  • Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Irritable or annoyed mood
  • Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

When depressed teens realize that they need help with depression, this can be a major step in the direction of recovery.  However, MHA notes that very few teens seek help on their own accord.  Teens will need support and encouragement from family and friends to seek out help and follow treatment recommendations.  Listed below are a number of resources to facilitate getting more information about teens and depression.

American Psychiatric Association – Healthy Minds

Erika’s Lighthouse

Mental Health America (MHA)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Here is a list of teen realistic fiction books that focus on teens suffering from depression or mental illness and how this affects their lives and the lives of others.

1 Comment

Reality Scoop: National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month. According to the National Autism Society one of the nations leading grassroots autism organization, as many as one in 500 teens are thought to have autism,  Statistics have also proven that the possibility of boys having autism is more typical than in girls. Teenagers that have autism have most likely been diagnosed when they were young during their toddler years.  It should also be noted that autism is a developmental disorder and should not be mistaken for a personality disorder.  Teens that are autistic can learn skills to help interact socially with others.  In addition, most autistic teens are able to engage in school classes and age appropriate activities. Many teens with autism have been found to have an above-average intelligence.

The National Autism Society found that autism can be hard to distinguish because it is what is called a spectrum disorder. When you hear someone talk about the spectrum, this means the different severity levels of autism that require support. Level 3, requiring very substantial support, Level 2, requiring substantial support, and Level 1, requiring support.  This also means that teens with autism are all different on the spectrum levels and will not have the same symptoms, this is why it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Ultimately, autism affects all teens differently.

cc image via Flickr user Vladimir Pustovit
cc image via Flickr user Vladimir Pustovit

Autism Speaks is a foundation that is working hard to raise awareness of autism.  The Autism Speaks foundation has found that many educators are not prepared to adapt their teaching methods to meet the state standards and the increasingly diverse needs of teens with autism.  Veronica Fleury an author that writes for the University of North Carolina’s Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders has been advocating to help teachers focus more on students with autism and hopes that schools will realize that jobs in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be ideal careers for many teens with autism.  Fleury has proven with her research that many college students with autism are interested in concentrating on STEM courses.  According to Fleury, “High school students with ASD also need ample opportunities to practice skills across settings throughout the school day…  Teaching them to monitor their own behavior can help them to use their skills in a variety of settings.”

It should also be acknowledged that not every individual with autism supports the message and work of Autism Speaks.

There are a lot of books that feature teens with autism. These books show varying degrees or levels of compassion and understanding to teens with autism and relay the message that we should treat teens with autism with kindness and warmth.  Most importantly we need to remember just because a teen has autism, it should not define who they are, nor should we expect teens with autism to let it define what they can achieve in their lives.  We should remember that the possibilities of positivity, growth, and success for teens with autism are limitless.

Comments closed

Reality Scoop: Importance of Sleep for Teens

Sleep is so important for teens because they are always on the go with school, sports, projects, and the many activities in their lives.  Ever notice how sleepy they are too?  It’s almost as though they are going through life clamoring for more sleep.  Research from the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center shows that most teens can’t get enough sleep.  They are at an important stage in their growth and development and they need more sleep than grown ups.  According to the Sleep Disorder Center, the average teen should get at least nine of hours of sleep to feel sharp and rested the next day.  Take into consideration that there are different factors that can keep teens from having ample time for sleeping.  Some causes that may cause teens to lose sleep are:

  • Changes in their bodies
  • Overloaded schedules
  • Exertive social lives
  • Confused perspective of sleep

The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences & Medicine has done extensive evaluations of teens with sleep problems.  Their conclusion is that teens that have issues with sleep have had these problems long before they were teens.  Unfortunately, the sleep patterns of teens are usually very set and it is hard for them to increase sleep.  Therefore, these issues with sleep can progress into their adulthood.

reality scoop- importance of sleep for teens
CC image via Flickr user Lucas Arrrrgh


Statistics from the National Sleep Foundation show surprising information on teens:

  • Teens need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night to function best during the day.  Only 15% of teens reported sleeping at least 8 hours on school nights.
  • Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns and typically stay up late and sleep in late on weekends, which can damage the quality of their sleep patterns.
  • Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, insomnia, or sleep apnea.

Here are a few things that can help teens to try and fit in a bit more sleep into their schedules:

  • Turn off all electronic devices before going to sleep Electronic screens emit a glow called “blue light” at a particular frequency that sends “a signal to the brain which suppresses the production of melatonin and keeps teens from feeling tired.
  • Stay away from caffeine and snacks before bedtime.  These can harmfully postpone sleep.
  • Relieve pressure by reducing daily activities.
  • Streamline morning schedule to allow for more sleep time.
  • Work on assignments more productively by taking breaks and cut work into smaller pieces.

Here are a few realistic young adult fiction books that focus on teens with sleep disorders or problems with sleep and how it affects their lives and the people around them.

Comments closed

Reality Scoop: Random Acts of Kindness for YA

Back in December we covered how holiday stress can affect teens.  One of the ideas that was mentioned as a stress reliever for teens was to partake in random acts of kindness.  This is a great idea, with Random Acts of Kindness Week coming up next week during February 14th-20th, teens can continue to spread the kindness.  The purpose of this special week is to urge everyone to be kind to each other and especially to be kind for no reason at all.  Random acts of kindness or RAKs can be done any day of the week and numerous amounts of times, there is no limit on showing kindness to others! RAKs are selfless acts performed to either assist someone in need or to cheer up a person and make them smile.  The driving force behind RAKs is having a selfless concern for the welfare of others.  Selflessness focuses on doing good without receiving a reward in return.

random acts of kindess

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has put together a very comprehensive website with resources for teens that want to learn more about how kindness affects the world.  The RAK Foundation thinks that kindness is a science and that it should be studied very carefully.  They have posted studies on kindness and how it can make a difference for teens in their attitudes toward others and how RAKs affect those who receive such kindness.

The RAK Foundation has listed many articles that talk about how kindness helps reduce stress with emphasis on how kindness should be taught to young adults.  Stage of Life, a site that is dedicated to helping teens shares the experiences and thoughts on the different stages in their lives asked 344 teens to complete a national survey about RAKs.  The survey data displayed staggering results that teens who perform RAKs often find that it reduces stress and boosts their self-esteem.  This is excellent news because reducing stress also leads to better physical and emotional health.


Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature

There are no shortages of books for young adults that tackle mental illness; The Hub has focused on books for Mental Health Awareness Month and also written about the trend of suicide and depression in Young Adult literature in just the last year. But today for Reality Scoop, we’re focusing on characters in YA novels who develop coping mechanisms for dealing with depression and anxiety throughout the course of the story.

YALSA realistic fiction column

Fiction According to National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), about 20% of teens suffer from mental health issues and nearly 30% have depression before adulthood.  The impact on teens is more than just statistics, it’s the feelings and the emotions that they deal with that hurt the most.  Mental health problems just make things so much harder for teens.  It makes their home life, school and socializing much more difficult than it should be.  

Comments closed

What Would Carl from the Walking Dead Read?

“Yeah I like it here.  I like the people.  But they’re weak.  And I don’t want us to get weak too.” Carl Grimes from the AMC television show The Walking Dead is one of the toughest teen characters I have ever seen.  He has grown up in a world of chaos and woe ever since he was a young lad.  He has survived some of the most horrifying zombies or “walkers” as he would call them and lost his own after she gave birth to his baby sister and he had to be the one to make sure she didn’t turn into a zombie.

Carl can really take care of himself, even though he can give into his childish cravings and love for chocolate puddings every once in a while.  He understands the depravity of the world that he lives in and he is never afraid to take charge in chaotic situations.  His dad Rick should be proud that Carl has transitioned so well in such a wild and unruly world.  Carl should be proud of himself for learning how to shoot a gun and knock out as many “walkers” as he can.  Way to go Carl!  If Carl walked into my library right now what books would I recommend to him?  Let’s see, I think I have a few he will really like.

Carl-Grimes-Walking Dead

Zombie survival guide max brooks

Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

Now I don’t really think that Carl needs this book, but I do think he would get a big kick out of reading it.  He might think that some of the tips that Brooks offers would be helpful in the world that has been stricken by the zombie apocalypse.

This unique survival guide offers helpful tips such as weapons and combat techniques, places to stay safe, and how to survive a zombie-infested world.  Did you know that if properly cared for the human body can be the best weapon of all?  More importantly, the chapter on how the zombie virus is spread may make the average reader squeamish, but not Carl he will understand the treatment for an infected bite is usually amputation.  There are also references to the different kinds of zombies like voodoo, movie zombies, and the deadly incurable virus zombies.

Comments closed

Reality Scoop: Holiday Stress Relief

The holiday season is upon us and it can be a very stressful time for many teens and their families.  Some families may have financial problems and the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping can heighten teens stress to an uncomfortable level.  Or they may have divorced parents and have split holiday plans. Worrying about where they will spend the holidays can actually put quite a strain on teens.12-28-09 ornaments148.jpg

It’s important to understand the amount of stress that teens are under during the holidays.  The majority of their usual stress centers around social issues like peer pressure, bullying and homework, and then there’s the money issues that arise when parents and caregivers don’t have enough to get through the holidays.  A recent survey done by the American Psychological Association showed that as many as 45% of teens reported that thy were under a lot of stress during the holidays.  Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of the parents did not even notice that their teens felt stressed.  Sadly, their stress does affect the quality of their lives as it was noted that 42% of teens complained of headaches, 49% mentioned difficulty sleeping, and 39% expressed that they have issues with eating properly.

Comments closed

What Would They Read?: Steven Carter

Have you had a chance to watch Finding Carter a very intense series that first aired on MTV last year?  The show is about a teenage girl named Carter Stevens who is confident, pretty, and popular, which are traits quite handy in navigating high school life.  She also has an amazing relationship with her mom who always tells Carter how much she loves her.  One fateful night Carter is out partying with her friends and things get out of control and she ends up being detained by the police.  Nothing prepares Carter for the punch-in-the-gut news that comes when she is told that she can’t go home to her mom – ever.  Carter finds out she was abducted when she was three, and now she must return to her biological family, who thought she was gone forever.  As Carter tries to forge a new life with her real parents, twin sister (fraternal), and younger brother, she must also adjust to life in a new school.  Carter misses her “mom” terribly and she can’t get over the fact that her real parents are pressing charges.

finding carter

Carter has a lot of emotional issues and she jumps into anything that will take her mind off of missing the woman that she thought was her mother.  If Carter walked into my library right now what books would I recommend for her to read?  Here’s what I would suggest.

Comments closed

Reality Scoop: Epilepsy Awareness Month

I’m back with another round of Realistic Fiction for young adults!  November is Epilepsy Awareness Month.  Epilepsy affects about 2 million people in the United States and is characterized as recurrent, unprovoked seizures.  Of the 2 million, about 326,000 youth under the age of 18 have epilepsy and around 200,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.  Teens with epilepsy have seizures that start in the brain.  The brain uses electrical signals to pass messages between brain cells.  If these signals are disrupted, this can lead to a seizure.  For some teens, it will be a temporary problem, easily controlled with medication and outgrown after a few years.  For others, it may be a lifelong challenge affecting many areas of their lives.

Epilepsy is usually diagnosed when a teen has more than one seizure.  The types of seizures can vary.  Seizures can affect their feelings, cognizance, and even their movement.  Sometimes there is an aggregation or accumulation of seizures that may cause disorientation, unusual feelings, repeating movements, or they may even black out and suffer brief moments of unconsciousness.

Comments closed

What Would They Read?: Hermione Granger

I will always be a fan of the Harry Potter series and will forever fondly remember how obsessed I was to read all of the books and watch all of the movies.  Now that the Sorcerer’s Stone is almost twenty years old, J.K. Rowling’s characters still ignite my mind.

hermione honestly

One of my favorite characters is Hermione Granger.  We all know Hermione as the smart and studious muggle-born witch from the Harry Potter series, but after reading the series, I think that there is much more to Hermione all together.  To sum it up, Hermione is driven to be the best and the smartest student at Hogwarts.  She has a brilliant mind, is very gifted at spells, and may have a photographic memory.  She is a loyal friend with strong convictions and somewhat of a rule follower.  She doesn’t like bullies and she stands up to those that are cruel and indecent.  Hermione’s parents are both dentists, so she know all about teeth.  She wants to feel pretty sometimes and she longs for the love and attention of someone special.

Comments closed