Bookmarked: Teen Essays on Life and Literature from Tolkien to Twilight (Paperback)

Bookmarked: Teen Essays on Life and Literature from Tolkien to Twilight By Ann Camacho Cover Image
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In more than 50 essays, young people from a wide range of backgrounds reflect on how words from literature connect with and influence their lives, goals, and personal philosophies. The essays explore topics including suffering the death of a parent, facing a life-threatening illness, letting go of perfectionism, making friends, realizing goals, and grappling with questions of faith and sexuality. Books cited range from The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby to Twilight and Lord of the Rings. Each essay includes a brief biographical sketch letting the reader know where the essay writer is today.

Teachers, guidance counselors, and parents working with teens on personal essays— including for college applications—will find that the book presents a varied, intriguing group of essays to use as samples, models, and inspiration. Teachers of literature, writing, and language arts classes can also use these essays as a way to help teens explore literature—and their own responses to it—through writing. Following each essay are questions to prompt conversation, writing, and deeper consideration of the issues raised. The back matter includes tips and ideas for teachers and teens on how to use the book, including ways to use it as a jumping-off point for creating personal essays.

About the Author

Ann Camacho has been an English teacher for more than 20 years. She currently teaches American literature at North High School in Riverside, California. Her students (and the student body as a whole) are very diverse, and many are in the school’s International Baccalaureate program and/or AP classes. Ann also participates in the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) college preparation program for students (often, but not always, from low-income homes) who have college aspirations but are falling short of their potential or who don’t believe college is within reach. She lives in Riverside, California.

Praise For…

"[A]ppealing to teachers looking for an example of a student essay . . . Libraries looking to support reflective writing in the English curriculum may also find this book useful."—School Library Journal

“Listen to young thinkers responding to literature from the past 500 years with verve and insight, and I can promise you that you will be inspired. What do you have in common with a teenager whose life has been disrupted by parental drug use and poverty, or who worries about being muffled by wealth, or who has spent a life on the move between countries and cultures, or who has scarcely traveled? As it turns out, a lot. These insights about the ways literature works its magic on us go far beyond the writers’ lives.”—Dr. April Lidinsky, associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and WVPE public radio essayist

“This powerful, moving collection offers a stunning reminder of how deeply young people are marked by books—how words can print themselves directly onto our hearts, as indelible as any tattoo. Bookmarked makes me think gratefully about the books that shaped me as a teen, and renews my sense of profound responsibility as a writer for people of all ages. Ann Camacho’s dedication to her students and the written word will inspire teachers to add more literature to their curricula and teens to pick up more books—and, as a result, lives will be changed.”—Gayle Brandeis, author of My Life with the Lincolns and the Bellwether Prize–winning The Book of Dead Birds


“As a school board member, I often walk through a sea of young faces in high schools across our district, meeting students who seem to have life on a string. They are good students, making good grades, playing sports, and acting in school plays. Reading Bookmarked, I felt I was seeing these students for the first time. These essays opened my eyes to the issues, problems, successes, and aspirations of these young writers. Each essay is so different, yet they have one thing in common—the search for answers. The stories in this collection validate what any teenager might be feeling.”—Kathy Allavie, Riverside Unified School District

“As a teacher, it’s difficult to teach students how to recognize an author’s voice, let alone teach them how to develop their own. Bookmarked captures the essence of the young writer’s voice. The student writing is insightful, sophisticated, and inspiring. Through their writing, we see how literary works are much more than stories; they are the bridges that help form connections to the world around us.”—Jonathan LeMaster, English teacher at El Cajon Valley High School, literacy consultant and cofounder of

A high-school English teacher, Camacho has gathered more than four-dozen essays from young people—many of them college students or recent graduates—reflecting on their lives, their pasts, their future prospects, and their personal philosophies. Per the editor’s request, each essay is rooted in a quotation from a book that has touched the writer’s life in a powerful way. The results offer a remarkable array of life experiences, some dramatic—a boy comes out to an unforgiving parent; a girl reflects on the murder of her father—some more quietly reflective. The contributions are divided into five sections dealing, respectively, with beliefs and ideals; family, friends, and love; hard times and hope; identity and self; and dreams and the future. Each section concludes with questions designed to spur reflection, discussion, and writing. The book itself concludes with a guide for educators on using the book with students. Though designed for classroom use, the book will also reward an audience of independent readers.—Booklist

“The stories are so raw and honest you feel like you are sitting with these teens at a coffee shop, engrossed in their storytelling.”—Louise Sattler, school psychologist, contributor to

“Perfect for students about to journey into the college application world or, perhaps, someone who yearns for a philosophical or psychological journey.”—Anika T., age 17, for Fred: The Magazine for Young Mensans

Product Details
ISBN: 9781575423968
ISBN-10: 1575423960
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
Publication Date: March 21st, 2012
Pages: 224
Language: English