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Book Review: Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need

Raise your hand if the middle school years don’t conjure fond memories. If so, you’re not alone. Many of us talk about “surviving” middle school, as if being miserable were a rite of passage necessary to reach bigger and better things.

For anyone longing to make those socially and physically awkward years easier for their children, Middle School Matters delivers. The book puts those in-between years of education front and center, offering the kind of encouragement parents can use to help kids not only survive but thrive during this critical stage of development.

Author Phyllis L. Fagell tackles all of the big issues facing middle school kids. She believes middle school offers unique opportunities for kids to embrace the important skills necessary to make a successful leap from childhood to adolescence. As a licensed clinical professional counselor at Sheridan School in Washington, D.C., a Washington Post contributor, and mother of three, Fagell has years of professional and personal experience to back up her well-reasoned advice.

Middle School Matters provides a strong foundation for dealing with whatever middle school might throw at your child.

The book focuses on four themes:

  1. Values and integrity
  2. Empowerment and resilience
  3. Social skills
  4. Learning

Within each theme, Fagell tackles topics like embracing differences, coping with gossip, and risk-taking. She offers sound advice for the biggest challenges kids face during these pivotal years of social and physical development.

Parents frustrated by the lack of resources for helping their kids smoothly navigate the middle school experience will love this practical and encouraging book. Fagell is relentlessly helpful: She delivers tips, conversation starters, relatable anecdotes, and insights from educators, doctors, and middle schoolers. Parents won’t feel alone if they have this book.

Middle School Matters is a much-needed addition to the parenting book canon. It should be required reading for parents and teachers of middle-school-age children.

Kristina Wright

Kristina Wright is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Your Teen Magazine.