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Teen Ink, more than you think.

A student reviews Profiles in Courage. Another writes with astonishment about the mysteries of fractal geometry. Two teenagers visit Maya Angelou's home for an hour-long chat about life, the universe, and everything else. Still another writes about his experiences with amblyiopia--a "lazy eye"--and the years of harassment he faced from his peers. These and many other topics are explored in Teen Ink, a monthly magazine, book series and Web site written entirely by teens that includes nonfiction, fiction, poetry, art, photos and more. The most startling fact about Teen Ink is that, during the past 13 years, Teen Ink has received and read more than 350,000 submissions from teenagers nationwide and more than 25,000 have been published!

How is this accomplished? Each year, more than 1.5 million copies of the magazines are distributed to libraries and classrooms across the country and every teen reader is encouraged to send work to be considered for publication in this national teen treasure. This inclusive philosophy of publishing teens of varying talent and backgrounds works so well that instead of diminishing the overall quality of the magazine, it enhances its value to the reader.

You'll find monthly doses of poetry, short stories, and articles on topics ranging from sports, opinions, community service, the environment, art and photography as well as reviews of books, movies, music, colleges and much more. Articles in Teen Ink magazine encompass the spectrum of teen interests while encouraging budding writers to share their talent with the world. One revolutionary facet of the publication is the fact that teenagers themselves shape the agenda--no small feat, since Teen Ink's editors sift through more than 40,000 submissions each year from students nationwide. There is no charge for students to submit, and if published, all writers/artists are showered with gifts and a free issue of the magazine or book mailed to their home.

Let's look at the odds of a student actually being published. Thousands of the submissions are poetry, thus increasing the odds in other categories. Some sections (such as the college reviews) do not receive as many submissions, vastly increasing a student's chances of being published. Letters to the editor and feedback to published articles also open the submission and publishing process to thousands more students since they may not want to write a comprehensive article or story, but they can still share their thoughts by responding to another teen's piece and then experience the thrill of seeing their name in print.


Teen Ink's efforts reached a new level of accessibility in 2000 with the publication of the first anthology of teen writing from the pages of the magazine. Teen Ink: Our Voices, Our Visions, published by Health Communications, Inc., was an instant success and has been followed by Teen Ink 2: More Voices, More Visions and Teen Ink: Friends and Family. More books in the series are planned, with subjects ranging from love and relationships to fiction and poetry, and more. Each book captures the most beautiful, touching, and sometimes wrenching writings of teenagers, and in doing so, provide a vehicle for teenagers to better understand themselves and at the same time provide a window (and a mirror) for adults to glance back in time.

Critics agree. In the first book, filmmaker George Lucas commented, "As a parent and storyteller, I find great hope for the future based on the depth of feeling and creativity in this unique book." In the second book, Charles Osgood, host of CBS Sunday Morning, said: "This book is the answer to anyone who complains that American teens don't express their ideas very well or that they don't have many ideas worth expressing. The essays, stories, poetry and art in these pages let us see things through fresh and unspoiled eyes. There is youthful insight here that the world seems to take from us as we grow up and grow old." In Teen Ink: Friends and Family, Bill Moyers, broadcast journalist, had this to say: "Just when you have reason to fear the future, pick up this book and see what the hopes, dreams and courage of young people can do for the soul."

Cathi Dunn MacRae, editor of Voices of Youth Advocates, notes that "Teens themselves will savor every word from compatriots who so eloquently tell the truth." Cathy Greenwood, an English teacher, said, "Warning: Teen Ink will expose you to the thoughts and feelings of real teens who are good and sensitive and intelligent and brave and truthful. It is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for reality literature that will make your heart sing."

All royalties from these books go directly back to the Young Authors Foundation to encourage teen writing. Teen Ink books are available in bookstores and online and can be easily ordered for your library collection of young adult books:

Teen Ink: Our Voices, Our Visions--ISBN # 1-55874-816-4

Teen Ink 2: More Voices, More Visions--ISBN # 1-55874-913-6

Teen Ink: Friends and Family--ISBN # 1-55874-931-4


All too often, teen magazines, books and Web sites focus on what marketers present to them as the image of teen life: fashion, celebrity and entertainment. Since teens are a major new market, with some research estimating these 30 million young people spend about $190 billion a year, most traditional teen publications seek to capitalize on their consumerism through glamorous fashion spreads and subtle product placements. In stark contrast, Teen Ink is constructed through the words, images and creativity of junior high and high school students themselves.

To be sure, Teen Ink is no textbook, nor does it ignore pop-culture. Indeed, reviews of current music stars like Britney Spears and *NSYNC run alongside tributes to Miles Davis or thoughtful articles about the environment or insights gained from a community service experience. Through this mix, the magazine presents the balance in the teen experience that is so often missing from much of the traditional teen-targeted media. The payoff for students is tremendous. They often find that their concerns are reflected in the words of their peers, and find a vehicle where their own opinions are deemed important enough to print.


Students read Teen Ink in libraries and classrooms; over the years, the magazine has become the cornerstone for many young adult librarians and a valuable teaching tool for thousands of English teachers. Consider one English teacher from Missouri, who writes:

I am quite dependent on this publication--I would be lost without it. One of my greatest teaching moments occurred this year when I introduced Teen Ink to my new class of skeptical juniors ... after a few minutes of paper shuffling and a few groans the class grew silent--completely silent--for the remainder of the period! To see a student during the last period on Friday look up disappointed as the dismissal bell rings is the greatest sight a teacher can behold ... I wanted to shout and skip down the hallway that day, 'I did it! I turned their lights on.'


Everyone with access to the Web can find an incredible resource: This site contains over 14,000 pages of writing, contests, photos and artwork, opinion polls and much more. There also are resources for teachers and students alike as well as college information and a directory. With a daily changing homepage, this is an ever-evolving site with easy access for submitting work and requesting a free sample copy or subscription to the print magazine.


In addition to the monthly magazine, daily Web site and book series, the Young Authors Foundation also runs a number of other educational programs for YAs:

* Teen Ink Poetry Journal: Three 48-page journals filled with 1,000 student poems and photographs are sent to schools and library subscribers three times per year. This journal allows these additional poets to have their first publishing opportunity. Teen Ink also publishes poetry regularly in the magazine, but due to the numbers of poems, this special journal allows even more teen voices to be heard. All published poets receive a free copy of the journal mailed to their home.

* Teen Ink Book Awards: For the past eight years, the Young Authors Foundation has sent an average of more than 10,000 free books, bookplates and award certificates to schools that receive class sets of the magazine. It is the hope that this Book Award program will help motivate average or below average students in a special way. There is no cost to the schools for the books, award materials or shipping. It is only "suggested" that the award be given to students (selected by their school's English department) for demonstrating "exceptional individual growth" to encourage students to continue this advancement. Since most academic awards and scholarships seem to validate the successes of the best students, this adds an important new dimension to the awards process.

* Educator of the Year Awards: Now in its ninth year, hundreds of students nominate an outstanding educator who has made a difference in the lives of the students, the school or the community. Based on these student essays and verification with school principals, this year 200 teachers, librarians, counselors or coaches will be honored with cash awards and special certificates totaling $35,000. Every winning student also receives an award certificate acknowledging his or her selfless nomination.

* Teacher Advisory Board: Teachers from around the country network to share ideas and opinions. Teen Ink maintains letter, e-mail and phone contact with over 200 teachers and librarians who share ideas, advice and feedback as to how the foundation and the programs are working in their schools. Librarians are also encouraged to join this voluntary board--which guarantees to have no meetings!

* Student Advisory Board: Students have the opportunity to serve as their high school's liaison to Teen Ink. This gives them a closer working relationship with the organization and adds student feedback to determine how the magazine is being used in their school.

* Interview Contest: Throughout the year, Teen Ink encourages teens to interview grandparents, neighbors, friends and teachers as an incentive to learn more about the lives and history of those close to them, and to share this experience with their peers through our magazine. While this is a winning experience for all who participate, teens who submit the best interview, or other work, win the opportunity to interview a celebrity. Thus far winners have interviewed George Lucas, John Glenn, Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, R. L. Stine, Maya Angelou and others. This year, the winning students will interview Colin Powell, Martin Sheen, Pedro Martinez. Michael Crichton and Whoopi Goldberg.

The monthly Teen Ink magazine is available to librarians and teachers for $25 a year for a single copy subscription or for $87 per year for a class/library set of 30 copies per month. All the Teen Ink books are available in stores and on line. You can find out additional information on the website at, or call 1-800-363-1986 for more information.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Kliatt
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Meyer, Stephanie
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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