Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preteen Trends: The Big Three

Being the parent of a preteen, and wanting them to make good choices, always comes down to how involved you are in their day to day lives and how aware you are of what they face everyday at school, in your neighborhood and on the internet.

I know I'm not breaking new ground when I say that, but as a person concerned about preteens, their lives, their faith and their future - I want you to be reminded any time I can do so.

Here are the Big 3 areas of concern right now that are hitting preteens hard everyday, even more than with teens in some cases. The peer pressure to be involved, experiment, join in and do some of these actions can be too much for a young mind to handle or say no to, so mom, dad, whomever...step in!

1. Sex
Sex amongst preteens is on the rise. Sad but true. Even with the latest statistics showing that teen pregnancies have taperred off a bit, sex amongst preteens is growing. Still very much experimental, and very much touch and feel, but like most curiosities..they continue. Girls are being asked for, and at times demanded to give oral sex to boys who hold a girl's popularity for ransome if they don't comply. Girls now, in some instances, have turned the table and use it as a way to become popular. A very sad trend. One that needs to be addressed. Take time to have that awkward talk with your daughter. You might be surprised that she was hoping the conversation would come about because she's scared and needs help!

2. Drugs
Drugs are also on the rise with the preteen culture. More and more kids are learning that over the counter drugs, drugs easily accessible at drug stores or in the home, can bring about the same hallucinogetic effect as the bigger and more expensive illegal drugs can.
Learning some of the street terms for these types of "highs" can help you spot a drug problem early, or even prevent one from happening. Cough Syrup is a biggie. Kids have learned that 900 milligrams of many cough medicines can make you high, so they swallow it fast. Names like roboshooting, robochugging, robo, rojo, candy, skittles, Vitamin D are just a few to listen for. I recommend you go on the internet and search terms like "Street Terms for Drug Use" or something along that line ( Teen Drug Slang: A Dictionary for Parents ) is an article I read online that CBSNews wrote with good information. Again, the communication with your preteen about why drugs seem so important to their friends, and what you can offer to replace a feeling of wanting to tune out will be huge.
3. Social Media
The internet is something that is not going away, so it needs to be turned into a positive tool. The growth of unseen people, groups, organizations and causes that want your preteens eyes and ears are bigger than ever. The stats on how much money and time companies are investing online just to turn your child's head is off the chart. The sad thing is, if you pound an a door long enough someone will answer it, and preteens are answering at an alarming rate. It also ties itself to the first two of the big three because sex and drug use are being viewed, learned and enhanced through websites set up to target young minds. This is one area where stepping in and monitoring is a must, even though it won't make you popular at the time. But, in my mind, the cause is too great to look the other way and just hope your preteen makes right choices. Questions to ask them: Why do you want a Myspace, Facebook, twitter, other account? Will I, as your parent, have total access to your accounts? If not, why not? Are you allowed to read there emails, their texts? Again, if not, why not at least needs to be asked? Trust me, at this point, there is no room for privacy when it comes to the internet. Set that rule now! Find other ways to give them a sense of privacy. A Diary you won't look at. A special place in the house all their own at times. Pick a time for them, and couple of friends, to go hangout somewhere by themselves. Be creative, but be firm!

Send your suggestion and ideas that have worked for you. We all need to work together on this! They need our help, now more than ever, whether they know it or not!

Keith Poletiek travels the nations speaking to preteens and leaders of preteens. He is an author, illustrator, comedian and storyteller and available to come speak to your students on issues of value, morality or just being the person God intended you to be.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

200 Less Places For a Kid to Get a Bible (Borders Bankruptcy)

"A Change in the bookselling environment."

That was one of main reasons why Borders says it closed the doors on over 200 of their retail stores across the country and filed for Chapter 11 Bankrupcy. They also list the economy,, Walmart and Barnes & Nobel as other key factors. Amazon and Walmart for lower prices and Barnes & Nobel for forecasting the change in the "new bookselling environment" quicker with a stronger web presences, and introducing their digital reading device, "Nook".

I, as an author, understand this change in the book environment full well. I recently published all three of my books in the Adventures of Johnny Lazarus Book Series with; but don't look to purchase them, or at least not all of them, in paperback form (the traditional way). I, like many writers, have chosen to forward think a bit about how this new generation of 7-12 year olds will approach book reading; and with that in mind, I published my books digitally first. I have since published my 3rd in the series, and newest book, Wave of Courage, in paperback form, and it is also offered on But I'm waiting to see what will transpire in book selling a bit more in the next few months before I invest in producing books 1 & 2 in paperback form.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not hip to the change. It hurts to think that not only are there now 200 less places for a child to go to find a great read. I love strolling down to the Children's Section, in a bookstore, and seeing kids in chairs, at tables and even sprawled out on the floor, losing themselves in worlds of fantacy. It gives an author like me a reason to keep on writing, creating and producing. But is Borders announcement a bigger announcement than just a financial one?

Here's a bigger hurt. Closing 200 retail stores also removes 200 locations where books of faith and the Bible itself, will sit on shelves for all to see. For some, parents and preteens, this might have been the only place they might have the Bible even come into view. There are now 200 less places, though the space was small to begin with, for a Bible to catch someone's eye, actually have them pick it up, glance at few pages and possibly do what many have done in the past, actually purchase one. I mean, the Bible still out sells every book, every far!

Questions I'd like answers to:
Will the Bible survive this "change in the bookselling environment"?
How will a preteen gain access to God's Word in the future?
What are we doing to expose preteens to "The Word"?
Is a digital Bible the answer?

Preteen Outreach:
Facebook: Keith Poletiek
Facebook: The Adventures of Johnny Lazarus
Johnny Lazarus Books: Johnny Lazarus in Wave of Courage

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tween Involvement: Helps the Hurt Stop Hurting!


It's one of those products that has been around since I was a kid, and is still going strong.
     Why, because it promises to produce results without pain!  Yes, it's that popular medicated spray for kid's "owies" called Bactine. It has become popular in the eyes of parents, and kids alike, because it claims, in its'  advertising slogan that it, "Helps the hurt stop hurting"! "Wow, an anticeptic spray that won't send a kid realing from the sting of medicated liquid hitting an open wound, or scrape! Where do I get it? I don't care what it cost!"
     Many tweens today are hurting from an open wound that is in serious need of care. Not a physical wound, but instead, and emotional and psychological one, low self-esteem.
     I know this might not be news to most of you, but what I'd like to draw attention to the mistake we are making in choosing the wrong cure for their ailment in the form of materialism.

     Materialism has become, in the eyes of many preteens, the end all cure for the "owie" caused by wondering if they fit in, if they are liked by their peers, or are popular enough to even be recognized, as they move throughout their day.
     But, like many worldly answers, materialism is only a small bandage being used to cover a gaping would in many 10-12 year-olds today.
     Preteens are thinking, "I don't know what to say or do to fit in, but if I'm wearing the right jeans, have the proper brand of shoes, the new iPod, Wii Game, etc., maybe it will hide my mom, dad, hand over the goods!" And still the wound grows, gets infected and then starts to really hurt.

     A better cure...Involvement!

     Involving preteens in any activity begins to give them a sense of worth! It reminds them they do count; they do have purpose. It refortifies the notion that they are useful and have untapped skills just waiting to bust out! Using sports, clubs, after-school activities are great for parents, but the church can jump in as well. Put your preteens in-charge of things related to your group or ministry. Have them set up and breakdown the rooms. train them to run your audio-video department. you'd be surprised how much more they know about "techy" things than we do. Have them lead prayer groups, weekend sports events, organize a book club (Great source for a boys book club is my Adventures of Johnny Lazarus Book Series: ), whatever it takes. Once they have a title and the responsibilities that come with that title, they will begin to find that illusive self-esteem put in them by God himself!

     Involvement "Helps the hurt stop hurting!"

Feedback: How do you involve your tweens in things? Are you willing to share the cure with all of us?

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Adventures of Johnny Lazarus

If you are unfamiliar with, or just hearing about my Adventures of Johnny Lazarus Book Series, here is a quick update (for those familiar or already fans, Johnny would ask you to hang with this and be cool).
As my blog title announces, “Tween” You and Me, I am all about kids, preteens (tweens), and giving them every effective tool possible to take their faith to their world. Creating a hero (of sorts) they can relate to, who, through his adventures or misadventures, can help introduce them to the hero of all heroes, Jesus, was a concept that needed to be explored.

Thus, the creation of Johnny Lazarus, a 12 year old kid, who replaces me in a series of great adventures based loosely on my childhood. These are fun, humorous adventures that not only provide great reading and enjoyment, but also, with the help of his good friends Henry, Richie and Summer, teach great faith-based lessons that lead Johnny, and the reader, to a better understanding of what it means to live for God.

There are three books in the series so far:

Book 1: "Johnny Lazarus in The Legend of Frog Finger" is a great bike riding adventure that has humor, dares, close calls, a monster of a hill and a section of a swamp, "Frog Finger" , that is not to be touched or even approached by anyone. Rumor is that if you ever stumble into Frog Finger, you might never come back. Whether true or not, no kid wants to tempt fate, until the coolest kid in the neighborhood builds a ramp, takes on the monster hill and jumps Frog Finger all in one mighty swoop! When Johnny is challenge to attempt this same, unbelievable jump of doom, he learns a valuable lesson in trusting God, even more than a wooden ramp to keep him out of harm's way. ( Kindle Book on / $7.95) Order Now

Book 2: "Johnny Lazarus in Vinnie's Steal Attempt" is a great baseball romp that sees a teammate of Johnny, Henry and Richie's (Vinnie) attempt to steal second base off a great pitcher and then decide to return to first base, once he sees that he is being picked off...sending him in two directions at the same time. This unbelievable, unthinkable "double-choice" actually causes injury as his body and limbs attempt to move in opposite directions. Painful for Vinnie, hilarious and yet maddening for Johnny and the other teammates who plan to seek revenge for Vinnie's game-losing stunt. Johnny, and the readers, learn a great lesson in choosing the right direction to aim your life, towards your faith and what is right, though, at times you feel tugged in the opposite direction by life's daily challenges. (Kindle Book on / $7.95) Order Now

Book 3: (New!) "Johnny Lazarus in Wave of Courage" has it all when it comes to water sports. Surfing, bodysurfing, backyard swimming and swamps. It also has a powerful message about boldness and what it will take for Johnny to build up enough courage for him to share his faith in Jesus with his good friends, Henry and Richie, along with another friend, Tim. Tim, already a world-class swimmer at 12 years-old, (nick-named Timmer the Swimmer) is also world-class when it comes to challenging Johnny to gain the courage to try some unbelievable stunts, including joining him in bodysurfing one of twenty-foot, storm-driven, Mammoth size waves crashing down on the shores of the beach where they live. Johnny learns a life-lesson in the importance of being a truly good friend and the Wave of Courage needed to do so.
(Available in Paperback at / $8.99 & Kindle Book at / $7.95) Order Now    

Keith Poletiek LIVE: Invite Keith to speak at your church, school or next event.
Add your location to our "Wave of Courage Book Tour”. Contact us for more details!
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Facebook: Johnny Lazarus

Project316 has Preteens Fighting the Good Fight...and Winning!

No offense to anyone, but I'm sold out on the idea, and belief, that today's preteen, if properly prepared and motivated, can and will be the HOPE for this nation returning to "One Nation Under God"!

If I didn't believe this, I would stop working to inspire them to spiritual greatness. If I hadn't seen preteens taking over their world, and introducing their communities to a personal and lasting relationship with Jesus, I'd close down Project316 and move on.

But when you watch two 9 year olds', at a Project316 rally, share the gospel with their friend, and have her choose Jesus as the Lord of her life. And, when you've inspired a 10 year old at a rally one year, and have him return the next year only to tell you, "I'm running out of friends to invite to church," you are motivated to keep teaching them to "Fight the Good Fight!"

Project316 ( is dedicated to Motivating, Training and Encouraging preteens and young believers to take the salvation message found in John 3:16 to their world any way they can. Whether by direct conversation, inviting them to church, a camp, a conference, an event or giving them materials to read or view, we look to provide any opportunity for them to take on the role of "Kid-evangelist," and they are jumping at the chance!

We even challenge them to reach at least one person, a "Dare To Care Person" on, or before, March 16th of each year, a day we now claim as "Dare To Care Day," The National Day of Outreach for Kids.

The concept is so simple and kid friendly...Share John 3:16 (316) by March 16 (316)...thus Project316.

In 2010, 1500+ people signed up at and challenges themselves to "Dare To Care". In 2011, we already have over 600 sign ups, and it's only January! Preteens have started a movement, and you can help them!

Help your students become the spiritual giants they long to be, and let them win back their world for God!

Invite us to come out and share the message of Project316 with your church, school, students, groups, etc. Host a rally! Dare To Care!!!

Contact Keith Poletiek direct at 951.201.2611