if this kid wrote a book, i’d read it

publisher’s weekly is the graceful old behemoth of approval in the publishing world. so, when they publish a letter written by a (shockingly articulate) 13 year-old boy named max leone, about what teen guys want in books, it will actually shape things. anyone who loves middle schoolers will love this kid (though he’d likely role his eyes at me/us and tell us to get a life). seriously, publishers not only salivate for this kind of kid as a reader, i’m sure there are already mulitple publishers trying to track him down for a book proposal. and what youth worker wouldn’t hope for a couple of these guys in our middle school groups?

here’s an absolutely classic paragraph from his letter:

And then there are the vampires and other supernatural creature that appear in many contemporary teen novels. Vampires, simply put, are awesome. However, today’s vampire stories are 100 pages of florid descriptions of romance and 100 pages of various people being emo. However much I mock the literature of yesteryear, it definitely had it right when it came to vampires. The vampire was always depicted as a menacing badass. That is the kind of book teenage boys want to read. Also good: books with videogame-style plots involving zombie attacks, alien attacks, robot attacks or any excuse to shoot something.

but, this final point of his really sums it up in a way that reflects what we’ve been trying to do with our line of books for students here at youth specialties:

Finally, here is what I consider the cardinal rule of writing for young adults: Do Not Underestimate Your Audience. They actually know a lot about what’s going on in politics. They will get most of the jokes you expect them not to. They have a much higher tolerance for horror and action than most adults. Most of the books I read actually don’t fall under the “young adult” category. I can understand the humor in Jon Stewart’s or Stephen Colbert’s books as well as any adult.

(ht to ypulse for the link)

15 thoughts on “if this kid wrote a book, i’d read it”

  1. That kid is freakin’ brilliant. I might try and track him down and pay his family to move to Indiana. I want that kid in my youth group.

  2. Amazing Kid! I love his comment “The vampire was always depicted as a menacing badass.” Classic middle school thought articulated well! Thanks Marko

  3. WOW! It would be so cool to have all kids be this open and honest. I think that maybe all we need to do is start asking…and we might find out that all our guess work on ministry might just be missing the point when kids are reaady to share thier thoughts if we see them as imporant

  4. Is it all blogs or simply Marko’s that create such lemming type responses?
    I don’t think this represents middle school thought…I think it represents middle school thought of a boy who digs vampires and video games. Small segement of a diverse population of MS kids out there.
    This kid to me is no more “awesome” than any other MS kid.

  5. JR – is it all blogs, or just mine, where name calling is considered normal?

    I think you missed the point: he’s “exceptional” in how articulate he is, not because of his views.

  6. Marko – I am pretty sure I didn’t call anyone a “name”. Simply saying that that most responses tend to fall in line with whatever direction you lean with the original post. Not looking for a fight just making an observation. I am always surprised by how many people echo your sentiments – especially because you value honesty, and open conversation.

  7. i have to admit… i’ve underestimated middle school kids a number of times in my own ministry.

    i find it amusing this kid uses the word “yesteryear.” small chuckle. shockingly articulate is an understatement.

    in all seriousness, i can’t wait for your middle school book to come out.

  8. Hey Marko,

    I don’t often comment on your blog, or other’s for that matter. I have been reading a lot of the comments that have been made about your posts the last several weeks. I am surprised to see that people don’t seem to know the difference between disagreeing and getting angry and rude. I wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog. But that is not because I always agree with everything you post. It is because as a Christian and a youth director, I enjoy perspective. I like to learn. I like to hear and understand different views so that I can understand more about the people around me. It is important for me to understand every aspect in order for me to make an accurate decision. So, thank you. I appreciate your willingness to share. And I appreciate the fact that Youth Specialties is daring and controversial. It challenges me to learn more about my faith and to use the gifts that God has given me in my church’s youth ministry.

  9. thanks, kristi!

    jr – ok, looking at it again, you didn’t CALL people lemmings, you just said they have lemming-like responses. still seems really belittling. just because someone agrees doesn’t mean their a mindless follower.

    i love disagreement, especially when it’s thoughtful.

  10. I will try and be more thoughtful in my observations. When using the word “lemming” it was not a choice for mindless it was a choice for “agreeing with the author”. I, like Kristi, read your blog for information. I don’t read to hear my own thoughts, I read to gain a new perspective. It just seems that the majority (not all obviously) of responses are ‘I agree with you Marko”. Either you are truly brilliant or people just like to agree with the cool kid on the blog. Probably it is you are truly brilliant.

  11. Imagine that; most people come to a blog and read it because they generally agree.

    ALL HAIL MARKO!!!!!!!

    I kid, I kid…

    Have a great day everyone.

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