The Benefits of Mentorships: Background information when reading Piecing Me Together

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Piecing Me Together

by Renee Watson

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson X
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2017, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2018, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Bradley Sides

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The Benefits of Mentorships

This article relates to Piecing Me Together

Print Review

Mentor GraphicRenee Watson's excellent Young Adult novel Piecing Me Together follows the life of a high school junior. Jade, who is African American, receives a scholarship to a new, predominantly white school, and finds herself feeling alone. Her guidance counselor approaches her with information about participating in a mentorship program called Women to Women, which targets girls who are seen as being at risk. Jade is initially reluctant to participate; however, after she weighs the opportunities, she realizes that she should take advantage of the program. So, she does. She meets her mentor, Maxine, who is also African American. Maxine is a college graduate, and she's from a prosperous family. With Maxine by her side, Jade sees a side of the world that would've likely been hidden from her for many years.

What constitutes mentoring can have slight variations, but Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership defines it in the following way: "Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter."

Mentoring GraphicThe benefits from participating in mentoring programs are vast. Youth.Gov states that some of the perks include "increased high school graduation rates, lower high school dropout rates, healthier relationships and lifestyle choices, better attitude about school, higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations, enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence, improved behavior, both at home and at school, stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers, improved interpersonal skills, and decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use." With these kinds of results, there is no surprise that so many communities participate in mentoring initiatives.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is one of the country's most popular and largest mentoring programs. Started in 1904, it "makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers ("Bigs) and children ("Littles"), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country." This organization positively impacts its mentees' self-confidence and education. Other mentoring programs target more specific groups of teens. For example, Boys to Men Mentoring pairs adult men with oftentimes fatherless boys to help guide them. BEST Kids, Inc. in Washington D.C. works to positively impact youth in its surrounding areas. Just Us Girls, based in Georgia, is one of the country's mentoring programs for young women. If you know of a teenager who might benefit from a mentorship program, all you have to do is some quick research to find the best one for them. There are so many wonderful, successful organizations ready to help guide today's youth. And if you have the time, there is no better way to nurture both the future of one person and the future of the world by becoming a mentor yourself.

Mentoring people graphic courtesy of drbacchus.com
Mentoring lightbulb graphic, courtesy of maryhogarth.com

This "beyond the book article" relates to Piecing Me Together. It originally ran in March 2017 and has been updated for the June 2018 paperback edition.

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