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“New year, new you” may be a little bit of a toxic cliché, but the start of a new year can still be a good time to make some changes or work on yourself, whatever your age. There are thousands of self-help books for adults out there, but fewer self-help books for teens, who may need advice and guidance even more – after all, the teen years are often where you work out who you really are, and what you want from your life. There’s also a whole host of new situations to navigate, like new schools and courses, changing friendships, and, for some, first romances. These self-help books for teens are packed with useful tips on dealing with school, family, friendships, and working out who you are, as well as contending with anxiety or negative emotions.
The teenage years are a time unlike any other, with dizzying highs and very low lows, but although everyone will make mistakes or have bad times, self-help books like these will help the teens in your life get through it, developing coping strategies and resilience as they work out what they want from the world and who they’re going to be.
The Mindfulness Journal for Teens by Jennie Marie Battistin
Journaling is a great way to process your thoughts and reflect on things that are bothering you, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. This journal is full of prompts, breathing exercises, and meditations that teens can use to help with anxiety and work through whatever life throws at them, from schoolwork to socialising.
Dr Christian’s Guide to Growing Up by Christian Jessen
Puberty is tricky for everyone to negotiate, but in this book Dr. Christian Jessen breaks down and demystifies all the physical changes (and the mental and emotional impacts they can have) for teen readers. Young people who are feeling awkward about their bodies can find reassurance in these pages that, no matter how they’re feeling or what’s happening, they’re not alone.
A Year of Black Girl Magic by Eboni Morgan
This journal-based book is particularly aimed at Black girls and young women, featuring daily exercises on self-reflection and affirmation to guide you through the year. Drawing on visualisation, CBT and mindfulness, A Year of Black Girl Magic looks at everything from facing your fears to setting boundaries, and is full of quotes and reflections from inspiring Black women.
Totally Me: The Teenage Girl’s Survival Guide by Sandy Rideout and Yvonne Collins
Written by a pair of best friends who’ve known each other since their own teenage years, Totally Me is a guidebook for teen girls on friendships, relationships, schoolwork, and dealing with your parents. Each section of the book deals with a different subject, and there’s a liberal sprinkling of quizzes that teen readers can work through alone or with friends.
Full of fantastic quotations, thought-provoking journal prompts, and plenty of affirmations to get you through bad times, Badass Black Girl is a brilliant choice for Black teen girls who are tackling issues such as body image, stereotyping, schoolwork and what they want to achieve for the future.
Another journal-based self-help book, this one’s a little bit sweary, but a great resource for teens who want to start tackling anxiety. Full of coping strategies, mood trackers, and methods on dealing with triggers, Let That Shit Go is a great workbook for anxious young people.
Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens by Leslie Sokol and Marci Fox
Many teens (and adults!) find confidence and self-esteem a struggle. Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens uses CBT techniques to help readers reframe their negative thoughts, feel calmer in social situations, and tackle self-doubt.
Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up by Melissa Cummings-Quarry and Natalie A. Carter
This beautifully illustrated book, written by the founders of the Black Girls’ Book Club, is described as a ‘celebration of Black British girlhood’, and is aimed at empowering and nurturing young Black girls in a world where they are often either misrepresented, or not represented at all. Full of quotes from inspirational Black women (including the brilliant author Candice Carty-Williams and former Spice Girl Mel B), Grown includes writing on topics from the politics of hair to figuring out your future career.
Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan
Brains can be confusing for everyone, and this is particularly true at a time when your hormone levels are in constant flux and so much about your body and life is changing. Blame My Brain takes the reader through the developments that take place in the brain during adolescence, looking at strong emotions, risk-taking, and the reasons why teens need so much more sleep.
More and more teens are coming out as trans and non-binary, but sadly, in many places, the world hasn’t caught up to the fact that they exist, and information is scarce or totally absent. Luckily, What’s the T? gives a full, in-depth dive into what it’s like to be trans, looking at identities, advice on coming out, and relationships, amongst other topics. A great read for trans kids and cis allies alike, What’s the T? is frank, funny, and informative.
You Are A Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be by Marcus Rashford
Written by footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford, You Are a Champion is part memoir and part advice book, combining stories from Rashford’s life with advice on how to learn from your mistakes, advocate for others, and be comfortable with yourself. With a focus on empathy, community and positive thinking, You Are A Champion is an essential read for teens, particularly sports fans, who are working out who they are.
The Trans Teen Survival Guide by Fox Fisher and Owl Fisher
Another useful resource for trans and non-binary teenagers, The Trans Teen Survival Guide is full of tips and advice for navigating adolescence as a trans person. This guide covers self-care, coming out, family relationships and friendships, and also looks at some of the medical and physical aspects of transition, such as accessing blockers and hormones.
Everyone loves a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference, and this self-help guide for teens keeps the same spirit of irreverence as Douglas Adams’ work while dispensing useful advice for young readers. Cope emphasises that you don’t need to change yourself to be happy – you’re already awesome – but gives tips on how to develop the things about yourself that you really like, and tackle things that feel more negative, so you can live the happiest life possible.
Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? by Riyadh Khalaf
Aimed at gay, bi, and questioning teen boys, Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? deals with relationships, mental health, sex and consent, as well as many other topics that young LGBTQ+ men may be seeking advice about. As well as being a great guide for teens, there’s also a section for parents, written by the author’s mum and dad, that gives tips on how people can provide support to the LGBTQ+ teen boys in their families.
Overcoming Procrastination for Teens by William J. Knaus
Procrastinating, particularly on homework, is something a lot of teens struggle with (and not just teens *coughs, looks away awkwardly*). Delays on homework can ramp up stress and anxiety in what is already a pretty stressful time of your life, but this book shows teens how to beat procrastination and tackle their workload while they’re still in school, making the experience easier and setting them up for their future studies.
While every teenager is different, there are some experiences and feelings that everyone will have to deal with, and these self-help books for teens will help them work through it and develop the resilience that will take them through the rest of their lives. They’re also good reads for parents trying to understand their teen as they move from childhood to adulthood and find their own way in the world.
Black teens and adults can find guidance and wisdom in our list Mind, Body, Spirit: 10 Self-Help Books by Black Authors to Help Align Your Life. For a light-hearted read that will help you get your life on track, try 10 Funny Self-Help Books to Rock Your World.