By the time young people reach the age of 15, many of the patterns of thought that will characterize their endeavors throughout their lives will have been fixed, in one way or another. The years immediately before this age, then, take on special significance. This is the time when fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated in the mind of an adolescent struggling to leave behind the habits of childhood. Youth between the ages of 12 and 15 have much to say, and whoever treats them as children misses the opportunity to help them form a proper identity.
Textbooks in the area of language can go far in cultivating certain attitudes and imparting essential moral concepts, and thus in creating the moral structures that will underlie the decisions and guide the actions of young people as they mature into adults and active members of society. The Junior Youth Series was designed with this in mind. Each book strives to further develop the capabilities of reading with good comprehension and expressing thoughts with clarity and eloquence. At a broader level, they are concerned with the need for high ideals and noble words to be translated into pure deeds. Certain of the books address mathematical concepts and social issues, while others seek to prepare young people to approach the investigation of physical, social and spiritual reality in a scientific manner. All are intended to be studied with the assistance of youth group “animators”, trained in the use of the materials.
Publications Currently Available
Breezes of Confirmation tells the story of Musonda, a young girl who has just turned 13, and her older cousin Rose, who has come to visit for the school holidays. A theme that runs throughout the story is that of making an effort and receiving confirmations from on high. While the book maintains a certain level of simplicity in terms of sentence structure and flow, the use of difficult words is not avoided. By placing such words in different contexts, and drawing out their meaning through exercises, the text builds vocabulary and strengthens literacy skills. The book works best with young people aged 11 and 12, but is suitable for older youth as well. (78 pages, 8½" x 11")
Glimmerings of Hope was written in response to the challenges faced by the many young people around the world living in the midst of civil strife. The book follows the story of Kibomi, a twelve-year-old boy who embarks on a journey to find his sister in another town after his parents are killed in their small village. Each lesson includes a set of questions and activities aimed at fostering the ability to understand the forces at work in society and developing coherence between belief and action. The book is designed for youth aged 11 to 13 or 14. (59 pages, 8½" x 11")
Stories have traditionally been a means for conveying moral concepts from one generation to the next. Walking the Straight Path draws on this tradition by bringing together twenty stories from different cultures. Each story is relatively short and followed by a series of exercises designed to further comprehension, build vocabulary, and enhance moral reasoning. Short quotations for memorization are also provided. The book is usually studied by young people aged 12 and older. (79 pages, 8½" x 11")
Drawing on the Power of the Word seeks to enhance the power of expression and explore the moral implications of speech and action. It consists of twenty readings, each of which is complemented by exercises in language skills. The readings begin simply, but gain in complexity both in terms of thought and language. The first reading introduces Diego and his youth group, who live in the small town of Alegrías. With the help of a young person from the nearby institute named Elisa, the group thinks about the power of enlightened words and pure deeds to bring about social change. The book is designed for youth around 14 years of age. (110 pages, 8½" x 11")
Thinking About Numbers follows the conversation of a group of classmates living in a small rural village who, with the help of their teacher, explore mathematical concepts such as accuracy, one-to-one correspondence, sets, and negative and irrational numbers. Over the course of their discussions the group considers the applications of these concepts to day-to-day life, investigating as they do the meaning of justice, service, and progress. In this way the book seeks to help young people not only further their capability of making numerical statements about reality around them but also think about the social dimension of statements regarding the world. The book is intended for youth aged 11 and upward. (55 pages, 8½" x 11")
In Learning About Excellence, a young girl, Ling Li, travels from the city to visit her grandparents in their village for the spring holidays. During her stay she discusses with the members of her extended family aspects of city life and rural life and the possibilities for her future. Through these conversations the book considers the intellectual and spiritual dimensions of excellence, its meaning in the domain of work, and its connection with adherence to high ideals, each lesson looking at one or more of the qualities and attitudes that contribute to its achievement. The book is designed to be studied by youth aged 13 to 14. (61 pages, 8½" x 11")
In a world where physical existence is given a great deal of emphasis, The Human Temple provides young people with an opportunity to consider in some depth the powers of the human spirit. The book takes its readers into the classroom of a teacher, Mr. Ian Scott, who helps his students to think about certain concepts related to language, addressing in this context such subjects as the power of human utterance and the nature of spiritual perception. The readings and exercises draw young people who study the text, generally around the age of 14, into a similar reflection, investigating with them those inner powers that distinguish the human being from all other things in creation. (54 pages, 8½" x 11")