I remember one night when I was a teenager, standing in my living room. I told my Dad that I had decided to move out, live with my friend, and get a job at Treasure Island grocery store. I had it all figured out. I’m sure there were a few choice words from my Dad, but for some reason, all I remember from him was, ‘no you’re not’. I’m sure there were a few choice words on my end and perhaps even some damage to the door hinges, but all I remember is-I didn’t. Sometimes I wonder where I’d be right now if things had gone differently.
This evening, I attended author Wes Moore’s presentation in my community. He wrote, The Other Wes Moore, which was on YALSA’s 2011 Alex Awards nominations list as an adult book having special appeal to teens. He garnered a standing ovation.
Fortunately, there was a large presence of teens who most of the program was devoted to as they got to ask Wes questions which ranged from “If you were me, what would you do with your life?’ to “What do you hope for your family?”
If you haven’t read the book, I won’t ruin it for you. In Wes’ words, it is a call to action. It tells the story of the circumstances and opportunities he had and where his life diverged with another Wes Moore who grew up in the same neighborhood, close in age, but very different outcome in his life. The author encourages the reader to look at what opportunities they can give others-no matter how small, that can make all the difference.
As librarians, we do this every day. Whether it’s through matching a teen with a book to just listening to them after a long day. Thinking of our own opportunities and choices that we’ve encountered in our own lives can help give us a better perspective on the influence we do have on teens. Who do you remember or who is helping guide you now? It might have been something seemingly small that made all the difference.