Life Lessons for All of Us

So you remember middle school, right? And the cafeteria? And the groups? And changing your friends? And how everything was moving so fast and it was sometimes exciting but also—too often—painful?

It’s funny how those experiences taught us a lot about how to conduct our lives going forward. And that’s why I loved putting together the new revised and updated Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul 21st Anniversary Edition. This new collection is filled with such wisdom—the stuff we learned in middle school that we need to refer back to now!

We went through the old 2001 edition of Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul and removed the stories that were outdated and not relevant to kids today. And then we added in a couple of dozen new stories, just written in the past few months — ones about being a kid during the pandemic, social media and technology, and many other modern-day issues.

The lessons in these stories are ones we all need to hear at every stage of life because I think most of us go through life making some new friends each decade and letting some go as well.

One of my favorite stories, "Just Trying to Fit In," by Frances-Amelia Spadoni is about being true to yourself and making friends who are right for you. When Frances-Amelia started middle school she immediately noticed that what she had seen in movies about cliques was very true for her school. There were so many cliques. If you didn’t belong to one, then you were by yourself, or you had a small group.

Frances-Amelia soon realized that a girl she knew—her neighbor—was “popular.” And that popular girl asked Frances-Amelia to sit at her table. Frances-Amelia says, “A part of me didn’t want to be popular, but the other half couldn’t help it. So, I sat with my neighbor... I made so many friends that I felt accepted. But I felt guilty for leaving my best friend to sit with the popular clique, so I invited her to sit with me.”

Then her best friend changed. She dressed differently, she acted differently, and she talked differently. She got popular fast.

Everything went wrong then. Frances-Amelia didn’t want to sit with the mean popular girls anymore but her old friends wouldn’t take her back. She would skip lunch just so she wouldn’t have to sit alone.

Frances-Amelia had been taught by her neighbor – how to get a boyfriend, where to shop, what to say—all the “rules” of being popular. She says, “I just couldn’t take it anymore. I talked to my mom about it and she told me ‘just be you.’”

Now Frances-Amelia is in high school and she’s finally back to being herself, with real friends who she finally made in eighth grade. She’s doing the opposite of what her neighbor told her to do. And because she’s being her true self, she knows she’ll keep these friends. A life lesson for all of us!


Chicken Soup for the Soul has been “changing lives one story at a time”® since 1993 with more than 250 books that provide hope, inspiration, and tips for a better life. Virtually every title becomes a self-help bestseller. Each book contains 101 true, personal stories submitted by ordinary people with extraordinary experiences to share. The topics are wide-ranging, but always inspirational and entertaining, covering everything from faith and spirituality to family, marriage, pets, and overcoming challenges of all kinds. Life values such as gratitude, forgiveness, mindfulness, positive thinking, and giving back are a big part of the series, with specific self-help books that help readers of all ages, from children to the elderly.