California high school English teacher Ann Camacho challenged her students (current and past) to “Find a quote from ANY book you’ve read…and use it as the foundation or seed to developing your personal philosophy about how you live your life.” Fifty of the students’ short essays come together in Bookmarked: Teen Essays on Life and Literature from Tolkien to Twilight, edited by Camacho (Free Spirit Publishing, April 2012).
The volume is organized by section— Essays on Beliefs and Ideals; Essays on Family, Friends, and Love; Essays on Hard Times and Hope; Essays on Identity and Self; Essays on Goals, Dreams, and the Future — with “Questions for Reflection, Discussion, and Writing” concluding each one. A Using This Book with Students chapter provides ideas for encouraging self-expression in young people. The kids are motivated, but they’re not all goody-two-shoes; one girl talks about using SparkNotes while another boy discusses his former gangsta ways. It’s all very earnest and guided — but also inspirational.