The Gifted Teen Survival Guide: Smart, Sharp, and Ready for (Almost) Anything (Revised & Updated 4th Edition)
Galbraith, J. & Delisle, J.
ISBN: 978-1-57542-381-4
Free Spirit Publishing
2011

BOOK REVIEW (Davidson Institute) – This comprehensive text is a necessary toolkit that encourages and empowers gifted teens to take charge and make the most of who they are. The authors collected an unprecedented wealth of information about gifted students from caring adults who have nurtured them, research findings and input from gifted teens themselves coupled with guidance on how to apply this information in daily life.

Reviewed by Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Dedicated to Davidson Institute founders Bob and Jan Davidson, this book summarizes detailed survey responses from more than 1,300 gifted young people as a supplement to the authors’ vast personal and professional experiences. Ms. Galbraith and Dr. Delisle provide readers with a germane, straightforward approach to the many critical issues facing gifted teens today.

The book is composed of nine user-friendly chapters, addressing everything from the neurological basis of giftedness to appropriate steps to take in school advocacy and the skills required in the 21st century job market:

  1. Giftedness 101
  2. Intelligence Design
  3. Whoa, That’s Intense
  4. How to Shape a Gifted Brain
  5. Taking Charge of Your Life
  6. Making School Rule
  7. College, Career & Beyond
  8. Social Smarts, Relationship Realities
  9. On Being Gifted…and a Teenager

Within each chapter, these themes are examined in great detail by the authors and read almost like a series of FAQs with the most pertinent questions and concerns that gifted students might want to discuss addressed with practical, relevant and timely information. The authors have also included journal prompts for those who might want to keep track of insights and ideas as they read.

Chapter 1 covers issues as eclectic (and relevant) as common myths, cultural considerations and twice exceptionalities as they pertain to gifted teens. Included at the end of the chapter is a Gifted Children’s Bill of Rights written by Del Siegle, past president of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC):

    “You have a right…
    … to know about your giftedness.
    …to learn something new every day.
    …to be passionate about your talent area without apologies.
    …to have an identity beyond your talent area.
    …to feel good about your accomplishments.
    …to make mistakes.
    …to seek guidance in the development of your talent.
    …to have multiple peer groups and a variety of friends.
    …to choose which of your talent areas you wish to pursue.
    …not to be gifted at everything.”

Empowering words like these are sprinkled throughout the book, providing inspiration from a number of sources. In another particularly appealing chapter, “Taking Charge of your Life,” a quote by actor and comedian Bill Cosby shares some insight on how to manage the expectations and pressures that tend to be placed on gifted students: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” This chapter also discusses the expectations that gifted students may put on themselves and how to combat unhealthy perfectionism. In an essay by a gifted student who learned how to deal with her perfectionist tendencies through an experience in photography class, she writes, “My photograph… is in focus and its subject is sharp. Yes, it may be a bit off center. Sure, there may be a few dust spots on it. And, of course, that small smudge in the corner will always be there. But after all that, this photograph is still something to show the world. I am that photograph, off-center and smudged, but all-the-better for it.” The inclusion of such quotes from gifted teens and well-known personalities, along with essays by gifted students make the text relatable and genuine.

It is important to note that this is an updated edition of a former version by the same authors entitled The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook. Some of the new features included in the update are current brain research findings, a section on homeschooling, and an array of advice on new technology use. Readers will also find more examples and excerpts from current popular culture such as the inclusion of Albus Dumbledore’s pertinent quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that reads, “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind” (an experience with which many intellectually intense students can relate).

The book concludes with a bank of recommended resources including websites, books and gifted-specific programming options that address the topics discussed throughout the preceding pages.

Despite the authors’ claim in the introduction that “this is not a book about gifted young people” but rather “a book for gifted young people,” the appeal of this book extends far beyond solely gifted teens. This book will also provide teachers, parents, counselors and anyone else who takes interest in the gifted population something of an insider’s perspective of the unique concerns and experiences of gifted young people.


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