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Why did Linda Perlstein write the book?

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“ Perlsteins interpretation of what’s going on inside (middle schoolers’ ) hormone-charged world is information every educator and parent should have…A fascinating and important book.” – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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“Perlsteins interpretation of what’s going on inside (middle schoolers’) hormone-charged world is information every educator and parent should have…A fascinating and important book.” –The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Don’t you ever wonder….why do middle school students act so differently? What makes them so emotional? What’s going on in their heads? This book explains it all!!!!!


Linda PerlsteinPrize-winning education reporter for the Washington Post and a 1984 graduate of Maple Dale Middle School in Milwaukee. Author of the book, Not Much Just Chillin’. Lives in Washington, D.C.

why did linda perlstein write the book
Why did Linda Perlstein write the book?
  • Linda Perlstein spent an entire year in the Suburban Maryland Middle School trying to get an inside vision of the life of a middle school child.
  • Linda wanted to help parents, educators and other middle school-aged students relate to, understand and get a closer look at the life experiences that these children are facing when they reach 6th grade and higher.
  • Linda spent a year inside of classrooms, lunchrooms, recess breaks, student’s home lives and after-school activities.
  • Linda would make observations, have personal conversations with the students and would later record her findings.
if it weren t for the students this book would not be possible
If it weren’t for the students, this book would not be possible!
  • The ever-so famous characters include:
  • Mia: the popular girl who is impressed and freaked out by her status.
  • Liz: the daughter of hippie parents who used to rely on them for help and guidance until she reached middle school.
  • Eric: the smart boy who is always trying to please everyone, but ignores his school work and struggles to get A’s.
  • Lily: who is constantly trying to “fit in” and compete with her best friend, the popular Mia.
  • Jackie: the girl who obsesses over crushes but, hasn’t engaged in sexual behavior of other girls she knows.
  • Jimmy: is experiences many body changes and doesn’t know what is normal or going to happen next.
a conversation with linda perlstein
A Conversation with Linda Perlstein
  • Q: Why did you decide to write about middle schoolers?
  • A: “I wanted to spend the school year sitting still, watching and listening, in one school and write a series of stories.” “Elementary schoolers, I figured, aren’t old enough to really understand why they are who they are. High school- there are a million things written about high schoolers. I didn’t think I could add much there, and frankly, I don’t think high school kids are nearly as fun or as interesting as they were a few years younger. In middle school, you’re going through so many changes. “ “ I thought adults had a ways to go in how they dealt with kids this age and could make more of a difference than they assume. Teachers can do better if they understand the distinct developmental phase of middle schoolers, their unique needs, what they’re capable of and what they’re not. Parents need to understand that their kids need them more than ever-just in slightly different ways.”
a conversation with linda perlstein1
A Conversation withLinda Perlstein
  • Q: Middle schoolers are notoriously private. How did you get them to open up to you?
  • A: “Obviously, time had something to do with it. I was there all the time and the kids, the teachers, the parents go used to me quickly. They were too busy and self-absorbed to edit themselves for me.” “The kids knew I could relate to them. I’d done tons of research on what middle school kids think and feel, and I let them know I understood.” “More important- I wasn’t a parent; I wasn’t a teacher.” “Middle schoolers are dying to confide in some cool, non-parental grownup.” “I was lucky to be that person for them.”
personal reactions
Personal Reactions
  • After reading the book, I thought it was a perfect way for educators to relate to and understand what middle school students are REALLY experiencing during the school day, at home and on the weekends. Teachers only catch a small glimpse of the life experiences of these students and can only base their judgements on the small amount of time spent with them.
  • When taking a closer look at the characters, I was able to put myself in the shoes of these students and their experiences. I could recall doing some of the same things when I was in middle school over 12 years ago.
  • The stories in the book were very entertaining and held my attention all the way through. The book was nicely divided by seasons and chapters which made it easier to follow along throughout the school year and made it easier to visualize what was happening.
what did other s have to say about the book
What did other’s have to say about the book?
  • The New York Times: “The children Ms. Perlstein follows are at once lovable, frustrating, contradictory-and real. Not Much Just Chillin’ may not make parents feel more comfortable about early adolescence’s arrival in their house hold, but it will certainly make them more prepared.”
  • Richard W. Riley, former U.S. secretary of education: “Not Much Just Chillin’ takes the reader to a mystical place-the changing world of the middle schooler-never before visited in this personal way. Every parent, teacher, principal, and friend of an adolescent can gain useful insights from this book. Linda Perlstein has done a great service for education by spending a year with these boys and girls in their classrooms and homes, and then eloquently chronicling their complicated lives.”
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Deliciously observed…Perlstein’s interpretation of what’s going on inside their hormone-charged world is information every educator and parent should have…A fascinating and important book.”
  • NEA Today: “The kids in Not Much Just Chillin’ speak with a candor that will alternately shock, fascinate, and inform both parents and teachers…The slang and fashions change, but the inhabitants remain as vulnerable and confused as ever.”
why should you buy this book
Why should you buy this book?
  • Teachers, parents, principals, guidance counselors, secretaries, friends of an adolescent, anyone who may come in contact with an adolescent WILL BENEFIT from reading this book!!
  • This book is based on true stories and life experiences of REAL middle school students!
  • Readers will become more knowledgeable, more understanding, and more than a little concerned for the future of us all!
personal review
Personal Review
  • This book will benefit me in many ways. Even though I am an Early Childhood Educator PreK-3 (adding 4-5th grade), and will not be certified to teach in a middle school setting, I will use the general information as a resource for “what to expect” and as a future parent. I will also understand the experiences that I will be preparing my students for when they leave elementary and move into middle school. I will share this book with others and encourage those “middle grade teachers” to definitely check it out! This book will also help my husband who is a Middle School Health Teacher.
  • Book Review by: Carla Ponting