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Archive for Monday, January 23, 2012

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Double Take: Eight years of advice compiled in two books for parents, teens

January 23, 2012

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Dr. Wes: Since November 2004, Double Take has churned out one column a week, 50 weeks a year. We break between authors in August, and the results of the contest take up one spot in April. Otherwise, we’re hurling advice for parents and teens in print and across the Internet.

I’m always amazed to see where our columns get reposted or linked. We’re up on body-art websites, adolescent sexuality sites (the good kind, thankfully), ethics blogs, parenting pages, in youth groups at churches and schools — all the places people congregate to discuss the ups and downs of teens, and how to parent them. We show up on Facebook from time to time, too. I’m still getting the hang of Twitter (@wescrenshawphd), so we may pop up in the “tweetosphere” or whatever you call it.  

Last summer, I began thinking it would be fun to gather the best columns into a book, something that might sell a few hundred copies around town as I was getting my feet wet in independent publishing and e-books, the dominant trend in bookselling these days. I sent out an email and all eight teen co-authors signed on, even though three are college grads by now.

And then I started editing.

I hadn’t read most of the columns since I’d hit “send” the week before they went into the paper. And as I re-examined every one, as if for the first time, I gasped. Literally. Again and again. I sent another email to the co-authors. This one said, “Wow. We have something really special here.”

And we do. We actually ended up with two books that are now in national distribution: “Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens” and “Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens.” Each includes about 90 of our best columns, updated and edited to fit the format of a book. As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in recognizing the uniqueness of a book in which teens give smart, edgy and often entertaining advice to their peers and parents. Bestselling authors Foster Cline (“Parenting with Love and Logic”), Rosalind Wiseman (“Queen Bees and Wanabees”) and Michael Bradley (“When Things Get Crazy with Your Teen”) all sent in glowing back-cover endorsements. The books are in paperback on Amazon and on Kindle, and will be in bookstores soon. Each co-author shares in any profit we make.

I’m always proud of Double Take and the young people who give so freely of their writing, out there in front of their friends, family and community. There’s nothing else like it anywhere, and its presence in Lawrence proves what each of us already knows — no community supports its young people better than this one.

As I was editing, I was reminded of something else: just how smart teenagers are, and how smart they have to be to get through this interesting, crazy, mixed-up world we’ve left for them. Jenny, Marissa, John, Julia, Kelly, Samantha, Ben, Miranda and I hope these books help you on your journey.

Miranda: Like many teens, I’ve been reading Double Take for a long time. I started freshmen year, and I’ve read it almost every week since — sometimes to my mother while she made dinner, sometimes to my newspaper classroom at Free State, and sometimes just to myself. I applied last April and somehow managed to win the contest. Now I read what I’ve written every week.

For that, I am forever grateful.

Double Take is such a unique experience, something that could only grow in Lawrence, a community that encourages uniqueness and fosters the ability to specialize and become your own person. It’s gratifying to know our community trusts teens this way. I’m not aware of any other newspaper that gives space every week to 16- to 18-year-olds, as the Lawrence Journal World has — a space where teens can talk about sex, pregnancy, family issues and mental health week after week, year after year. It’s a unique gift.

The Double Take project not only benefits the community but also the teen co-authors. It’s a unique line item on a college application or resume. It’s something we’ll have with us the rest of our lives, and these two new books will only add to that. When the contest comes around, I encourage all seniors or juniors who love to write to apply.

Next year I’ll begin studying journalism in college, and I’m excited. I feel better prepared because of Double Take. It’s taught me so much about the real world of newspaper (and now book) publishing, and the $1,000 scholarship from Dr-Wes.com and Central National Bank has eased the financial blow for my freshman year. Like so many of the amazing opportunities we have in Lawrence, Double Take has given me a chance to know more about who I am and who I want to be.

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