My rating: 5 of 5 stars
BOOK DESCRIPTION: Are you and your favorite teenager having too many conversations like this?
"How was school?"
"Same as always."
"Anything interesting happen today?"
"Nice talking with you!"
Let's face it. Teenagers have a PhD in one-word answers . . . if we don't ask the right questions.
In this book, veteran youth expert Jonathan McKee shares 180 creative discussion starters to help teens open up about issues that matter. You'll also find tips for interpreting their responses and follow-up questions. From light-hearted to more serious, these conversation springboards will encourage even the most reluctant teen to talk about friends, school, values, struggles, and much more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan McKee is the author of over a dozen books including The Guy's Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket and The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers. With over 20 years youth ministry experience, Jonathan speaks to parents and leaders worldwide. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.
MY THOUGHTS: With two teen daughters, a class full of 25 high schoolers, and interaction with youth in our ministry, I was excited to find a book on communication. What made this one stand out from the myriad others I've come across is its practicality.
Before getting into the meat of the book, the author offers five important but simple tips to effective communication with a teenager, based on the premise that they want you to listen to them and are waiting for you appropriate invitations and reactions. Without further theory, he launches straight into topics that range from silly to serious and all in between. Each topic not only includes a question to get things rolling, but ones to use as follow up as the conversation flows. Some topics included scripture references and the author's comments.
Although you could just pick up the book and turn to any page (the topics are randomly arranged), I would recommend that you choose a question and read through that section a time or two. If you really want the conversation to flow naturally and not seem forced, putting it into your own words at just the right time would go further than calling your favorite teen into the room and reading from the book. There are also certain questions that may not apply, or ones that need to be torqued a bit for the intended listener.
I tried out the first one on my family one night at dinner, asking them the question I'd put into my own words, then letting the conversation take shape. When we hit a lull, I threw in a couple of the other questions from that same page, leaving out ones that didn't quite seem to fit at that moment. I felt a little sneaky, like I was a teacher preparing a class that the students didn't know about ahead of time, but we talked about things that we'd not thought about before and enjoyed that time together.
I'd recommend this for parents, of course, but also for youth leaders, teachers (these would make great prompts for journals), and anyone who wants a better look inside the mind of the teenagers they know.
Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for providing me the advance reading copy in exchange for my unbiased review.