A new book will give teenagers a few ‘principles’ to help them negotiate the ‘battleground’ of their lives.
Youth facilitator Alex Wallis, 48, who works at Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth, is the author of I H8 Bullies.
He set himself the task of showing how reading can be thrilling even for the most cynical reader – and wrote it with the help of 40 teenagers who expressed low interest in reading.
Alex, who lives in Chichester, used them as his editors for the book, test-reading sections to them and inviting them to correct him so that the book rang perfectly true in their own world.
‘It is the story of a boy who tries to hold his dignity while being bullied at home and at school. With cynical youths as my editors, I listened to their experiences and way of speaking and we crafted a story that they say is really good, has loads of tense moments and is like real-life situations.’
Alex’s day job is counselling in emotional literacy: ‘It means that if someone has got a rough road map ahead, they might feel that they have got very few options. Emotional literacy helps them understand and articulate their feeling and gives them more options for responding. It helps them when they are struggling with problems like bullying and low self-esteem. It is very much about them learning new ways of helping themselves.’
Just as they will do if they read the book.
‘Teenagers today are under incredible pressure. A modern teenager is being hit in every aspect at once. They are navigating their academic expectations, but with social media being so much a part of their lives, they are under huge pressures, anxieties about how they present themselves to their peers. They can never switch off. They will be on their phones in the early hours of the morning. People of my generation could just go home and leave all the dramas behind.’
The book will suggest ways they might rediscover a balance in their lives.
‘I really love reading. I have always loved reading. The first book I ever read was Robin Hood in a hardback off my dad’s shelf. I read it and I could not put it down, the escapism and the excitement. I find it really sad when I hear students say that they hate reading. I just think that maybe they have not yet found a book that speaks to them in their own language about their own world, about dramas that they can relate to.
‘I was inspired by their stories, and I used a group of them as my editors. The story is about a boy who is trying to maintain his self-esteem while he is being bullied at school and bullied at home and does not know how to communicate with girls.
‘It is about him trying and often failing to get through these situations and what happens on his journey. It is about the principles that he discovers. He is not able to escape from the problems, but he finds ways that will help him live in the status quo. It is quite a gritty book. It is not a book about easy hope. It is a book about this battleground and some principles as to how you might survive it.’
The book is available from Amazon, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.