Author Sandra McLeod Humphrey has written Hot Issues, Cool Choices for girls and boys ages ten and up. This compilation of fictional scenarios gives the young student an opportunity to reflect on circumstances that may arise with their peers, thereby giving them a chance to arrive at possible solutions before they find themselves face-to face with those circumstances. The concept is a good one; teachers and parents realize that most of the decision making that children in this age group are engaged in is happening far from their watchful eyes. Humphrey’s stories, if read together with the young student, enable an avenue for discussion on topics like peer pressure, popularity and bullying and assist the child with handling problems in these areas. These issues can be damaging and destructive; the better prepared the student is in dealing with them, the easier it will be to combat the effects.
While the subject matter is supposed to be tailored to ages ten and up, I found most of what is addressed in the book to be geared to the “and up” audience. Ten year olds are no doubt dealing with issues like peer pressure but they are generally not talking about multiple parties and long hours spent at the mall; they are on the cusp of it but are not quite there yet, for them peer pressure may be framed slightly different. However, Humphrey’s does a nice job assuming the voice of a young person. She includes several thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter to encourage reflection. Hot Issues, Cool Choices is a valuable tool for facilitating discussion on the weighty issues most children will face at one time or another in their lives.
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