Five Santa Clarita Valley teens had their stories published in “Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul 21st Anniversary Edition,” which was published last month.
The book includes 24 new stories, in addition to the many stories originally featured in the book’s first edition published in 2000.
Two of the local teen authors, Noah Ross, of Valencia, and Frances-Amelia Spadoni, of Saugus, held a book signing at The Paseo Club, where the two first met and became friends.
Spadoni, 15 is a student at Saugus High and said her story is about belonging in middle school and the transition to high school.
“Everybody trying to be popular and trying to be that girl and trying to be in relationships is just so much pressure and it’s just so hard to be yourself through all of it,” she said.
It’s possible to lose a sense of self under that pressure, Spadoni said. And she did.
“I was bullied and it was just so hard and now I’m myself again and my story is just trying to fit in,” she said.
Ross, 15, a Hart High student and a dancer, said that made him different at school.
“Growing up, a lot of times, I was separated from a lot of groups,” he said. “Guys, they were mean to me. I would just get harassed a lot because of being a dancer.”
Ross shared his experience in a story called “Do What You Love.”
“If you are being bullied or harassed and separated from groups because of something you do, if you really love what you’re doing, then it shouldn’t matter,” he said. “And whoever actually sticks with you throughout that is really your friend.”
Ross signed a book for Hannah Miranda, a student at Hart High and Ross’s friend.
“I always know that Noah says what he feels,” she said. “I’m excited to see his thoughts in this story and what he has to say to inspire others, because I know he does that every day and I’d like to do that even more.”
West Ranch High School students Landon Dean, Caleb Sperber and Donald Brown had their stories featured, as well. The group of 14-year-old teens submitted their stories together.
Dean, who plays basketball, opened up in his story about his confidence before games.
“Me and my family, we found meditating as a strategy for me to use to stay calm and confident,” he said of his story “Calm and Confident.” “I was meditating and it was helping me be more focused and I was playing better after I started to meditate.”
Dean said he hopes his peers who read his story will consider trying new things.
“Don’t dismiss people’s advice right away, think about it and try it,” he said.
Sperber said he wants his peers to remember that they aren’t alone when they go through struggles.
“You shouldn’t bring yourself down just because you don’t like something about yourself,” he said. “You should really always try to find happiness within yourself because if you’re not really happy with yourself or like anything about you, then you’re not really going to be truly happy at all. So, I think that it’s important to just accept yourself for who you are.”
In his story titled “Two Weeks,” Sperber said he wrote about the process of learning about himself while not being able to spend time with his friends because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I grew up always being able to be around my friends or people that I really enjoyed being with and since that was taken away from me, I was kind of like the saddest I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “Over time I realized I can’t just always be sad when I’m not with friends.”
Donald Brown, who goes by Trey, said his story was about his worries about his voice cracking in public when he was in the sixth grade.
At the time, he said he didn’t know that his voice cracking was normal.
“I was like very self-conscious about it, especially when I’m around other people,” he said. “So, I would try like not to talk a lot around other people to prevent it from happening.”
Brown said that one day, the inevitable happened in class.
“I thought everybody was going to be talking about it and making fun of me for a long time, but besides one or two comments, nobody really said anything,” he said.
He said he hopes that preteens reading his story recognize that some things seem big in the moment, but really turn out not to be important in the long run.