Free Spirit Publishing 1.800.735.7323


Teen Essays on Life and Literature from Tolkien to Twilight

edited by Ann Camacho

In fifty compelling 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. Essays explore character building topics including suffering the death of a parent, facing a life-threatening illness, letting go of perfectionism, making friends, reaching goals, and grappling with questions of identity. Books cited range from The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby to Twilight and The Fellowship of the Ring. Each essay includes a brief biographical sketch letting readers know where the essay writer is now.

Teen readers will recognize themselves in these essays and will learn more about their peers. In addition, teachers, guidance counselors, and parents working with teens on the personal essay—including for college applications—will find a varied, intriguing selection of essays in this nonfiction book for teens to use as samples, models, and inspiration. Teachers of literature, writing, and language classes can also use the book to help teens explore literature and their own responses to it. Questions to prompt conversation, writing, and deeper consideration of the issues raised follow each group of essays, and the book includes a brief leader’s guide with tips and ideas for using the book with students.

Part of Self-Help for Teens®
Free Spirit is the leading publisher of learning tools that support teens’ social-emotional health.
Read More


Paperback $15.99 23968W Paperback 23968W $15.99

View where you can purchase the eBook.

ISBN: 978-1-57542-396-8
Reading Level: High school–adult
Interest Level: Ages 13 & up
Guided Reading Level: Z+
Lexile Measure: 1120L
Format: two-color
Trim Size: 6" x 9"
Page Count: 224

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

“Appealing 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

“A creative way to introduce classic literature to young adults.”—VOYA

“A remarkable array of life experiences.”—Booklist

“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

Bookmarked is an eloquent and moving tribute to the liberating power of the written word. These young students have discovered in books new ways of understanding themselves and their world and the kinds of future that books have helped make possible for them. It deserves to be read, not only for its own merits but as an inspiration for other readers—and their teachers.”—Dr. Edward Mendelson, professor of English and comparative literature and the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, and author of The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life

Bookmarked treats readers to the hilarious, ironic, joyful, optimistic, insightful voices of students who are inspired to be their best selves because a dedicated teacher has handed them books and challenged them to respond. This collection is the perfect antidote to prime-time media panic about today’s texting and screen-obsessed teens.”—Dr. April Lidinsky, associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Indiana University South Bend, and WVPE public radio essayist

Bookmarked captures the essence of the young writer’s voice . . . insightful, sophisticated, and inspiring.”—Jonathan LeMaster, English teacher at El Cajon Valley High School, literacy consultant and cofounder of

  • Common Core State Standards


Related Resources

Help teens make informed decisions with judgment-free information about addictive behaviors.
Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery
Get Gifted Students Talking

Free Spirit’s monthly e-newsletter, Upbeat News, is full of practical tips, free downloads, and special offers. Sign up today!