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“Resilience is not a trampoline, where you’re down one moment and up the next. It’s more like climbing a mountain without a trail map. It takes time, strength, and help from people around you, and you’ll likely experience setbacks along the way. But eventually you reach the top and look back at how far you’ve come.” – Katie Hurley, LCSW from

Building personal resilience happens as you encounter everyday challenges and use your strengths to work through them.  Understanding how you respond to stress, using coping skills like exercise and meditation, developing both gratitude and optimism and knowing your strengths are all important resilience practices.

Sources of Strength

Strengths contribute to a person’s ability to work through difficult situations.  Print out this Strengths Check In to identify your strengths or visit your local library to pick up a copy!

Reading about characters who demonstrate resilience can help you see problem solving and coping skills in action and think about the outcomes.  Here’s a list of books that highlight teens who have to use their strengths to work through a variety of challenges.  You may find these titles as books in our regular catalog, as ebooks in Overdrive or as audio books in Hoopla.  Click on the titles to start exploring the many ways of enjoying these novels for middle school and up!

Fantasy: Teens Find Power in Themselves

Sometimes a creative story is better than one that is realistic for presenting challenges that you can think about from a distance.  Shadow and Bone is a best selling novel set in the “Grishaverse” soon to be a Netflix series.  The Nameless City is a graphic novel voted as a favorite by Washington State teens in 2019.

Science Fiction: Teens Face a Changing World

Science fiction brings stories to life in ways that stretch the bounds of teen resilience in worlds difficult to live in.  Both Railhead and Light at the Bottom of the World find teens needing to help their families survive in worlds that are falling apart. 

Realistic Fiction: Teens and Suicide Recovery
The Memory of Light is a teen novel written by a Mexican American author who experienced both depression and suicide recovery. Friends for Life explores middle school friendships and thoughts of suicide.  Both of these books are affirming, hopeful novels that raise awareness and willingness to discuss mental illness, suicide and suicide recovery.  Both are appropriate for middle or high school readers.

If you are thinking about suicide and in need of immediate support, please call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or select TrevorChat to connect with a counselor.  The Trevor project specializes in help for LGBTQ individuals but anyone can call.  They are one of the only suicide hotlines that will not alert local authorites without your permission.  
For more support with any kind of mental health challenge call Washington Listens for free, confidential assistance.

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