Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book Review: I Carry It Everywhere

Recently, I had the pleasure of needing to spend a little of my budget at a local book store. I found a bunch of YA lit titles right off the bat, and was feeling pretty satisfied with my finds. Then I noticed a small, square book tucked in a corner bookshelf. On the front was a picture of a girl holding a sign that read I Carry It Everywhere: 50 Teenagers on What Really Matters. Immediately, I skimmed through the book and that it was a collection of short narratives mixed with photos of teens either holding signs or standing next to chalk boards that offered a simple personal belief statement.

I just finished reading this collection this morning. It was amazing. As it turns out, this collection is an effort from the Telling Room, an organization from Portland, Maine. The voices included in this collection include many immigrant voices and some homegrown ones. Some of the stories will break your heart and others will inspire you. The text is well-written and the images are spread throughout the collection.

I am excited by the format of this text and hope to use the ideas contained in this collection to form some creative writing assignments. There is nothing more powerful, I think, for students who're unsure of their voice than to see that other teens just like them are in print. It is also important for teens to read the words of peers from the same area of the country, I think. I know that some of my teenage students feel invisible living in rural Maine. Maybe if they have more opportunities to see peers who've spoken and written about their lives, they'll be more confident in doing so themselves.

This is a great, fast read and will inspire many great creative writing assignments. You can order a copy of this book (or other collections by the same organization) through Longfellow Books.

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