The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager – Thomas Hine

This book takes a look at the historical context of the American teenager experience.  Hine gives a great overview of the invention and development of the “adolescent” and their unique roles throughout our country’s history.  It drags at times but if hang in there you will walk away with a better sense of how the current state of affairs facing our youth today came to be.

When Helping Hurts – Corbett & Fikkert

The subtitle of this book says it all, “How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself”.  Many serve with the best of intentions but those intentions often don’t really help and can often make the problems worse.  This is a must read if your calling is to work with those in poverty regardless if the poverty is found in a third-world, urban city, or rural community.

Growing Up In America (the power of race in the lives of teens) – Christerson, Edwards, & Flory

Kara Powell at Fuller Youth Institute first brought this book to our attention.  If you work in a diverse population and want to understand how race shapes the experiences of our youth then this is a good primer.


Fist Stick Knife Gun – Geoffrey Canada

“If you wonder how a fourteen-year old can shoot another child his own age in the head and then go home to dinner, you need to know you don’t get there in a day, or week, or month.  It takes years of preparation to be willing to commit murder, to be willing to kill or die for a corner, a color, or a leather jacket.” (from inside flap)

This is a challenging book for us to read.  As we turned page after page we realized that we were part of the problem.  We all were.  For anyone  working in community where violence is the norm, this also is a must read.