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Sparks: 06/18/09

Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers by Peter L. Benson offers ways for parents to encourage their teens to follow the things in life that make them spark. When I hear the word spark, I can't help but think of Agatha Heterodyne, main character of Girl Genius. Sparks, though isn't about mad science or steampunk. Instead it's a straightforward parenting book to help parents connect with their children.

The book began with the thesis that modern teens were so driven by the demands of school and so distracted by friends and modern media (texting, video games, etc) that they no longer had time for the hobbies that would help keep them happy, grounded and enjoying life. What Benson found is that more than half of all the teens surveyed were still active in hobbies and felt they had a concept of a spark (p. 27)

Sparks then is for the remaining parents and teens to help them either kindle a spark or to rediscover a long forgotten one. The book has five steps for parents (or other mentor adults) to help kindle that spark, a second section to help teens keep their sparks alive so they can thrive, and finally a section of resources for adults and teens. The book is full of common sense approaches to parenting and for interacting with teens that can easily be adjusted to work with younger children or for adults. Best of all, the book isn't built on any particular belief system leaving it open for parents and teens of any background to use.

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