top of page

Gift Ideas for Teens & Parents: Book & Magazine Suggestions

Looking for some holiday gift ideas for you and your teen? I'm usually looking for ones that will engage the brain and take us away from our screens for a while, so books and magazines are always on my gift list. May I suggest the following ideas for books and magazines: For your future doctor: Just What the Doctor Ordered: The Insider's Guide to Getting into Medical School in Canada by Christine Fader. My pal Christine was on the admissions committee for Queen's Med School for 8 years and she knows her stuff. There's even a section for high school students, and one for parents too. For your child who who wants (and needs) a little order in their life: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. The book is divided by "Habits" rather than by chapters. Habit 3 is called "Put First Things First: Will and Won't Power". The 22 pages in this part of the book alone are worth the cost of the book.

For your budding leader and change-maker: A Promised Land by Barack Obama. I haven't read this one yet, but my son has requested it for Christmas. Stay tuned.

For you/the parent who wants to understand their child better: The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen, MD. This is not what I'd call light reading, but it is a readable book with chapter names like Learning, Stress, Sleep, Pot, Sports and Concussions. It'll help you better understand why your teen behaves the way they do. For you/the parent and child who are thinking about applying to US colleges and universities: Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo. As a former admissions officer, I find this stuff fascinating! Selingo takes us inside the marketing machine that is US admissions.

For you/any parent, this one is always top of my must-read list: The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey. Lahey is a teacher and a mother. She writes about a delicate subject without judgement or preachiness, but with a touch of humour. I love her.

For the student who is seeking help to determine their next best step (and for the parents who would like to support them): Backpack to Briefcase, A Student's Guide to a Meaningful Career Journey by Stephanie Koonar, MBA, BA Psych. Koonar invites students to find their Ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy), a Japanese word that roughly means “your reason for being.” But the book takes you much further than that -- it provides a step-by-step guide and real life stories of students on their journey. Very readable.

For the student who wants to win scholarships, and for the parent who wants to help: How to Find and Win Scholarships by Janet MacDonald. OK, this is my guidebook, but I truly believe it s a worthwhile read. At only 50 pages, you can read it in less than an hour, and it could save you thousands of dollars.

Another idea for your child is to subscribe to a magazine in their area of interest. For example, mine is interested in science, computers, and engineering, so I recently subscribed to Discover magazine, where each month he can read articles like "Quest for a Quantum Internet", "A Toy Inventor and an Engineer Walk Into a Lab", and "Cyber Crime's Secret Origins". He keeps a copy beside his bed for easy reading before he goes to sleep. If your student is more into business, maybe a subscription to Forbes or Entrepreneur. There seems to be a magazine for pretty much anyone's interest, so see if you can match one to your student's interest. Note: Most of these books and magazines can be found at your local bookstore but, for ease of reference, I provided the link to online options.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you and your student!

Want to learn more about how I can help you win scholarships? Please visit my services page. Best wishes,

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.


Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

The Author
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
Featured Posts
Search By Tags
Recent Posts
bottom of page