Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World is a super-helpful book on people skills that teens might actually read. The book’s 130 pages present each concept with brief text, cartoon illustrations, bullet-point advice, and sample dialogues of skillful communication. These features make it easy and quick to read.
The book was written for students in grades six through twelve, but I think it’s probably best for high schoolers and maybe even college students. It addresses work, volunteer, and fund-raising situations that might be too far in the future for younger students. However, chapters can be used selectively to suit students. Whatever the student's age, you should probably begin with the first chapter, “The Top Ten People Skills” that teaches about such skills as the value of smiling, making good eye contact, and the simple courtesy of “please” and “thank you.” There’s no need to wait till high school to cover these skills!
The next five chapters frequently refer to employment-related topics. Chapter Two is about job-hunting and interviews, but it also has a section, “Keep Your Job,” which explains what it takes to be a good employee. Chapter Three has to do with work, volunteer situations, and life in general as it discusses the way to make a proper apology, dressing for success, electronic etiquette, and similar things that help and hinder relationships. Chapter Four teaches about customer service skills that can be applied in many situations beyond a job. In Chapter Five, the book teaches particular skills for selling and fundraising, and Chapter Six explains how to create repeat customers and donors. The final chapter steps out of the work world to encourage students to think about meaningful involvement with volunteer groups or activities, finding causes that matter, and serving them well.
As a parent, I read this book and think that this is all excellent advice, but it’s advice that teens are more likely to accept from someone they don’t know (like the author of this book) rather than from a parent.
Teens can read this book on their own, and that’s probably best in most situations. However, there is a parent guide for those who want to work through the book with their teen, adding discussion and activities. Click here for information and preview pages from the parent guide.
Smile & Succeed for Teens might make a great gift for a teen, however it'd be easy for a teen to view it as implied criticism. One way to introduce the book without implying criticism might be to create a group class. A class-oriented teaching guide is available that can help structure the sessions with interactive activities. You can preview a sample by clicking here. Note that if you order a classroom pack of 20 or more books, you receive the teaching guide for free.