Reading Suggestions for 13 Year Old Quakers?

As I wrote about in my last post, my Meeting is looking at alternative forms of religious education for our young teen Friends. One possibility is to provide a suggested reading list that these Friends could bring with them to meeting for worship.

I think it's really good for teens to be in worship with the adult community. I think that the only way to really learn about Quakerism is to practice it. I also think that teens often lead very busy and full lives and an hour of quiet reflection and prayer can be as helpful to them as to any adult. But I also know, from my own experience, that sometimes it feels like a long time if you're not really in the mood. And at least my kids don't really have a choice about coming or not.

So I'd like to offer some suggestions for things to read in meeting to help with spiritual formation and centering. Ideally, they wouldn't just read all through worship, but if something caught their attention, I wouldn't stop them. However, the latest Percy Jackson novel is not going to make my short list for reading in worship, even if it does touch on questions of divine intervention. So I've started asking Friends in my Meeting for suggestions of books or other reading material that was significant to them when they were teenagers or that they think might be helpful or attractive to young Friends today. Here's what I've got so far:
  • Friend by Jane Yolen
  • Friends Journal and other Quaker magazines
  • The Message translation of the Bible
  • Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices, edited by Angelina Conti, et al
  • Whispers of Faith: Young Friends Share Their Experience of Quakerism edited by Geoffrey Black, Zion Klos, Claire Reddy, Milam Smith, Rachel Stacy
  • Run Baby Run by Nicky Cruz
  • The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
  • Towards a Quaker View of Sex by a few Friends in Britain (one of whom is now a member of my Meeting), published by Friends Home Service in 1964
  • Pendle Hill Pamphlets
I haven't read all of these so don't take them as a recommendation from me, just a collected list. If you have any opinions about these options, leave a comment. If you have additional suggestions, please leave a comment. If you could ask teens that you know to add some suggestions, that would be awesome!

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Blogger Micah Bales said...

A Living Faith, by Wilmer Cooper

12/22/2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

Eye of The Heron by Ursula LeGuin

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

The Arrow Over The Door by Joseph Bruchac

Quaking by Kathryn Erkine

Steal Away Home by Lois Ruby

Does God Have A Big Toe by Marc Gellman

12/22/2010 2:25 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Good ones!

I would add, after looking at my bookshelf a little more,

Lives That Speak: Stories of Twentieth Century Quakers, edited by Marnie Clark, and Enlivened by the Mystery: Quakers and God, edited by Kathy Hyzy.

Both have short pieces that can lead into reflection and still leave time for worshipful consideration afterwards.

12/22/2010 2:54 PM  
Blogger naturalmom said...

Thanks for this list. I'll be looking over it again when book gifting time rolls around in our Meeting!

The Cross and the Switchblade jumped out at me. Seeing that movie when I was a young teen was very disturbing and kind of messed with my mind for a while in some scary ways. I don't know that the book would have had the same effect -- probably not to the same degree -- but I would still be careful about giving it to relatively sheltered, sensitive, and/or younger teens.

12/22/2010 4:46 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thanks Stephanie - That would describe the two teens in my meeting. I think that Run Baby Run is the autobiography of the boy in the Cross and the Switchblade. They were both recommended by the same person who said something similar.

12/22/2010 5:40 PM  
Blogger RantWoman said...

--I assume these children do NOT get to read Quaker blogs on their electronic gizmos during Meeting for Worship?

--Some of my brain wants to say "what about reading some of the same things adults are reading so that there is basis for discussions too?"

--I was kind of a nerdy kid and I was younger than 13 when I read the Cross and the Switchblade. I found it kind of scary but did not have adults, either my parents or others it would have occurred to me to talk about it with. But what about other bios or memoirs?

--I also always prepared worshipping with adults rather than what my age group peers were doing so I can easily suggest thinking of how to support and nourish kids ability just to be in worship.

12/22/2010 6:01 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Actually the two I'm thinking of don't have any electronic gizmos to read on.

The adult study groups in our meeting are reading The Journal of Elias Hicks and the Psalms. I'll put them on the suggestion list.

12/22/2010 9:16 PM  
Blogger Faith said...

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Who Comes with Cannons? by Patricia Beatty.

12/23/2010 7:56 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

I've had The Witch of Blackbird Pond on my shelf since sixth grade - long before I knew any Quakers. But I don't know Who Comes with Cannons? I'll look for it at the library today. thanks, Faith.

12/23/2010 12:32 PM  
Blogger chad said...

I'd say two I'd recommend (starring Quakers) is Quaking by Katherine Erskine and Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer. These bring the Quaker story into the modern day, often with younger kids "discovering" Quakers who don't lead-off with their faith but demonstrate it through actions.

12/26/2010 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Adria said...

Mere Christianity, by CS Lewis

It's not specifically Quaker, but it is well written and great for discussion, and also has the advantage of being broken up into very short chapters.

12/28/2010 11:33 AM  
Blogger The Bridge Film Festival is... said...

Although reading is still my favorite medium...
One way to engage 13 year olds about Quaker ideas is to have them make a film or host a screening event for the Bridge Film Festival.


12/29/2010 2:36 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Hi I just found your blog through QuakerQuaker. My husband and I are going to be teaching the 12-16 year olds at our Meeting starting this week.
I just wanted to let you know I have enjoyed reading your blog.

12/30/2010 7:47 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thanks Chad and Adria for the suggestions!

I've heard of the Bridge Film Festival, but I don't see the two teens here getting really into it this April, but maybe the SF Friends School will be interested one day.

Liz, Do you have a large group of 12-16 in your meeting?

12/31/2010 1:16 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Robin, our meeting is small, 100 people at service is about average. We have between 2-7 teenagers in that class, and right now we are using a curriculum from David C Cook.
I don't know if we will continue with that though as I find it a bit rigid as far as trying to fit it into time allowed, and we have the freedom to branch out if we choose. Our yearly meeting offers some youth videos and materials that we try to take advantage of on the history of Friends and a series on queries.
I am excited to look at some of the resources listed here as well, to see if they would work for our group.

12/31/2010 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Casey said...

When I was 14 I read "Friendly Persuasion" by Jessamyn West, it changed my life!! A wonderful novel that brings Quakerism to life in a powerful way. I have gone back to it many times and it's always fresh. The movie is good too,but the book is always best.

1/01/2011 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No Shame, No Fear" by Ann Turnbull
and its follow up "Forged in the Fire". (1666) Unputdownable historic novel with a love story among teens, settled in the time of early friends. Esp the first volume very highly recommended. Strong female characters, plain and elegant explanations of quakerism.
My favourite fictional quaker story
(apart from Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale which is not an easy read and not for teens - still I enjoyed it as literature and the characterization of the (quaker) husband got some people interested in quakers.)

In Friendship from germany

Quiffaa Vyvyan

1/02/2011 11:55 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

More good suggestions! Thanks everybody.

1/03/2011 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Lisa H said...

When I was 12, I liked the little "Quakers and..." pamphlets, and biographies of early Friends and Quakers involved in the abolition and women's suffrage movements, like Lucretia Mott and the Grimke sisters. (Sorry, I don't remember specific titles.)

For some good short quotes to ponder in worship if the mind wanders:

-- Catherine Whitmire, Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity

-- Leonard S. Kenworhty, ed. Nine Contemporary Quaker Women Speak

-- London Yearly Meeting, Christian faith and practice in the experience of the Society of Friends

One of the easiest reading level introductions to Quakerism is Jim Pym's Listening to the Light.

Of course there's our own Faith and Practice.

And if they're still curious about Fox after reading biographies, there's a slim collection of his epistles called No More But My Love: Letters of George Fox, Quaker.

2/22/2011 6:34 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Lisa, this is really helpful. Our meeting has a stack of the little tracts in the lobby and young Friends could just choose their own. And I have Catherine Whitmire's books, great choice.

2/23/2011 2:04 AM  

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