Here are some books I’ve used that help me communicate more easily with teens – students who range from receptive to reluctant or even hostile.

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk

How To Talk So Kids Can Learn

The pair of women who wrote these books have a whole series of popular books on parenting and communication. These two books are very helpful because they offer concrete, specific strategies (even script ideas) for how to help your teen feel comfortable working with you. One example is the discussion of what they call descriptive and evaluative praise – totally changed how I encourage the kids I work with. Check out my full review of How To Talk So Kids Can Learn.

I am big on my students using sites that help automate something, describe key concepts succinctly or provide practice quizzes for instant feedback. These are a few sites that I’ve found particularly user friendly and effective.

Guide to Grammar and Writing – Fantastic, detailed website with user friendly layout, great explainations, exercises and quizzes.

CliffNotes Grammar Study Guide – Website with to-the point-help and skill specific quizzes.

Painless Grammar – My go-to book for short, easy to use explanations and drills. Check out my full review.

CliffsNotes Writing: Grammar, Usage, and Style – My other go-to book for grammar, with a  slightly more serious tone than Painless Grammar. Check out my full review.

Purdue Online Writing Lab – Top notch site on ALL things writing: essays and research papers, grammar and mechanics, style guides.

CliffNotes Writing Study Guide – Describes the steps of the writing process and includes some quizzes to reinforce the concepts.

Schmoop Essay Lab – A series of forms that step your teen through the stages of writing a lit or argumentative essay, from brainstorming, thesis writing all the way to writing the final draft.

Thesis and Outline Builder – Helps your teen very easily build a useful draft of a thesis for an essay – a tough step for many – and creates an outline to start him off.

Harvard College Writing Center for Essay Writing Strategies – This is Harvard’s resource site for their undergraduates. While the descriptions are on the long side, their info is thorough and spot on. Using this site, particularly for your high school junior or senior, would truly beef up skills.

A Research Guide for Students – Detailed site walking your teen through writing a research paper: the formatting and citing, the search engines, the actually planning and writing of the paper.

These are bibliography and citation makers, sites where your teen can feed sources into the software and get ready made bibliographies and citations.




SparkNotes – The king of all lit text cheat sheets. Includes plot and character breakdowns, analysis, themes/motifs, essay questions, key quotes and facts and quizzes. Covers the major books, plays, poems they’ll be assigned. Has a section summarizing and analyzing key events in history.

Schmoop – Very popular and useful site similar to SparkNotes but also has an Essay Lab to help build essays. More stuff like writing courses and test prep if you pay for their Premium Membership. Like SparkNotes it has a very large bank of videos on lit texts and history.

BookRags – Also similar to SparkNotes but includes detailed author bios and sample essays you can buy. Sometimes has the books that the other two sites don’t.

CliffNotes Poetry – Has a really nice description of how to interpret a poem and an exhaustive resource section on 20th Century American Poets. 

Purdue OWL Poetry Up Close – Provides a good example of how to examine and discuss a poem for English class.

Hip-hop Poetry And The Classics – Great workbook formatted book that compares someone like Shakespeare to Eminem to make poetry easier and even relatable.  Check out my full review.


Disclosure: Please know that some of these links are affiliate links and that if you end up making a purchase, I will earn a small commision, at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I have experience with these products and am recommending them because I genuinely feel that they’ll help you help your teen, not because I could make a commission.