Brain Tools for Teens by Malin Gutestam

  • Title: Brain Tools for Teens
  • Author: Malin Gutestam
  • Publisher: BooksGoSocial
  • Publication Date: October 13, 2020
  • Reading Level: 13- 18 years

Note: I received an early release copy of this title from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any images, quotes, information shared is from an unedited copy.


As a YA Librarian I speak with many high school students overwhelmed with studies, important tests, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and family responsibilities. Add to all that the tension and prominence and tension of social media and we find that today’s teens reporting being overtaxed. According to Pew Research (2018), “When it comes to the pressures teens face, academics tops the list: 61% of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades. By comparison, about three-in-ten say they feel a lot of pressure to look good (29%) and to fit in socially (28%), while roughly one-in-five feel similarly pressured to be involved in extracurricular actives and to be good at sports (21% each) (Horowitz & Graff). So how might teenagers and young adult conquer all their obligation in the healthiest way, both physically and mentally? One idea would be understanding how the teenage brain works, and how to best utilize that central unit.


In this quick read, which is well-supported with valid sources (scientific studies, peer-reviewed information, and accounts from actual teenagers) readers learn about the brain. Gutestam explains the parts of the brain, how they work, what changes the brain, and what teenagers (and parents) might expect in these critical years. The text manages to be interesting to lay-readers while also not “talking down”. In fact this title would be as useful and understandable a read from junior high, high school, college students, and adults. Personally, I found several tips that are useful for my own workday. Notably, Gutestam mentions that when working with students they “were actually all voicing the exact same concerns as the managers had, albeit in their own words and based on their own experiences” (Location 87 of 2728). Certainly, this book is useful to people of all ages.


(Location 343 of 2728)

Each chapter begins with a an effective visual (“mind-map”) introducing the upcoming focus. Readers then receive a brief introduction before getting into heavier material. Other excellent features includes several unique features: “Do You Recognize This?” actual comments from students the author worked with: “Teenage Brains Tell Their Stories” testimonials from teenager’s own experiences: Things to Try which are brief bullet point tips for readers to implement into their lives: “A Letter to Myself” letters written by students studying in college and university.

The text covers everything from the how the brain works, focus, healthy sleep, physical activity, down time, social needs, “play time”, time in, learning, stress, a conclusion, and final not to parents. The book also shares a references and further reading section. This text addresses the whole person from physical, mental, and emotional needs and how these correlate with the brain. Readers might read the book all at once, it is a quick and useful read. Or they chose to read it piece by piece as needed. Personally, I am ordering this book for my son so he bookmark suggestions that might make his academic career a little less grudging.

This non-fiction read is superbly organized, well-written, and highly needed for youth and parents alike.

More Resources and features

  • Author, Malin Gutestam’s, website (linked here) is filled with useful resources. Including an offer to receive a “FREE #1 bonus Brain Tools for Teens 15 Best Study Hacks.
  • You can follow Brain Tools for more ideas on (click for links) Instagram or Facebook

Brain Tools for Teens FANTASTIC! The combination of brain billowy, scientific date, specific and accessible strategies and commentaries from teenagers all make it the best book I have ever read on this topic. I highly recommend it to physicians, psychologists, social workers, teachers, teenagers, and their families” -Wendy Wornham , MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School. (NetGalley)

“As a teacher I need to challenge my students to learn new things, not only in subjects like English and Maths but also how to study and deal with stress. This book has been an enormous help in that mission. It gives you food for thought and many practical tips that you can try with your students, your own teens and yourself. In the digital age we live in this is a must read book” -Emma Naas, Teacher and Keynote Speaker, Winner of European Language Label and the Golden Apple, Skype MT, Ambassador #TeachSDGs. MIE fellow, Kakuma Project Ambassador. (NetGalley)


Start Where Your Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel

This journal (link in title) from Penguin Random House is filled with prompts, art, and inspirational quotes to help you on a journey of self discovery.

Relationship Skills 101 for Teens: Your Guide to Dealing with Daily Drama, Stress, and Difficult Emotions Using DBT, by Sheri Van Dijk

In this title from Instant Help, (link in title), authored by psychotherapist Sheri Van Dijk readers are offered “evidence-based strategist you can use to take control of your emotion and reactions in order to respond effectively to peer pressure, bullying, cyberbullying, and gossip, allowing you to navigate the many social issues that make these years so challenging” (Goodreads).


Brain Tools for Teens by Malin Gutestam”. (2020). NetGalley.

Gutestam, M. (2020). Brain tools for teens. Epub.

Horowitz, J.M. & Graf, N. (2018). Most U.S. teens see anxiety and depression as a major problem among their peers: For boys and girls, day-to-day experiences and future aspiration vary in key ways. Pew Research: Social & Demographic Trends.

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