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Speech and Language Challenges: The Ultimate Teen Guide by Marlene Brill

Speech and Language Challenges: The Ultimate Teen Guide by Marlene Brill
Speech and Language Challenges: The Ultimate Teen Guide by Marlene Brill
Photo contributed by Marlene Brill

Title: Speech and Language Challenges: The Ultimate Teen Guide
Author: Marlene Brill
Publisher: Scarecrow Press
Publish Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8108-8791-6

Tell us a little bit about your writing and educational background

Ms. Brill: I am an award-winning author of almost 70 books for readers of all ages, preschool through adult. I came to writing after spending 13 years in special education, where I created materials for readers of all levels and worked with teachers and parents. More specifically, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.

What is your book about?

Ms. Brill: My book is the only book for teens that covers all aspects of communication. There are chapters that focus on different speech and hearing challenges as well as more current topics related to brain damage, social and classroom presentations, and how each form of technology effects communication.

Why should readers read your book?

Ms. Brill: This book is for anyone who wants to know the breadth of communication concerns. For someone who has a speech and language disorder, these chapters offer specifics about the origins of the condition and tips for improving and getting along better, given the challenges. For readers looking for information for reports and papers, text gives specifics about definitions, causes and treatment options. For anyone else, readers can find a wealth of tips about communicating better with friends, family, school, and workplace as well as with people who might speak differently, including newcomers to our country. The best part about this book is the interviews with teens and experts that let readers know what it is like to have a specific condition and that they are not alone.

Did you have any obstacles while writing this book? What were they?

Ms. Brill: The main obstacle was finding teens to interview. The teens were game, but schools worried about privacy issues and would not allow me access. So I went through organizations and private clinics and personal recommendations to locate teens willing to be interviewed. The thoughtful teens in this book were most generous with their time and honest feelings.
The book is better for their voices.

Is this the first book you have ever had published? If not, please share with us what other books you have previously had published.

Ms. Brill: I have 68 other published books. Since special education was part of my background and experiences, I have written several books about healthcare topics for middle-grade, teen, and adult readers. My adult Keys to Parenting a Child with Autism was a Parent’s Choice, and Down Syndrome earned an honor with the National Science Teacher’s Association. But I love history and biography and quirky topics, so I’ve written about lesser-known standouts, such as Marshall “Major” Taylor, a world bicycle racing champ in 1899 and Rigoberta Menchu, the 1992 Nobel Peace prize winner from Guatemala; several historical fiction titles that are available as graphic novels, e-books, and in Spanish; and the only nonfiction history of the tooth fairy and other tooth traditions in Tooth Tales from around the World. You can find a sampling of my books on my website:

Are you working on any projects right now? Tell us about your upcoming book.

Ms. Brill: I’m working on several stories. I write historical fiction for young readers, and I’m currently revising a little-known story about Georgia O’Keefe and another about a girl who saved her parents from deportation with her art talent. We’ll see where these go.

What is your advice for writers wanting to turn authors out there?

Ms. Brill: I say read, read, read. When I started out, I read the entire list of Newbery winners to see what I liked and didn’t like about the writing.

Writing and publishing take patience and persistence, so don’t get discouraged. I recommend joining a writer’s group. Writing can be a lonely profession. I need feedback to see if what I write is worth publishing and support when rejections come and getting published takes time.

I also suggest joining the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the international organization for anyone serous about books for young people. Most states have strong SCBWI networks where a new writer can find a support group, learn more about the craft, and meet others on the same journey.

What made you become a writer?

Ms. Brill: I started making materials for my students and found I loved creating them. I had ideas about what I’d like my students to be reading. With time, I decided to try writing myself. I was hooked after my first book came out, and the idea stuck.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Ms. Brill: There are so many fine authors. Since I write more nonfiction, I like reading work from anyone who can make facts read like a novel. I just finished reading The Nazi Hunters and loved how the author, Neal Bascomb, presented facts that flowed like a detective novel. I also appreciate authors like Patricia Polacco who put so much heart into their fiction stories, in Polacco’s case that are based on events from her childhood. And I love reading about people’s lives, so I read books about personalities who interest me.

Where can we find you?

Ms. Brill: You can find me on my website, or email me at My books are on most major websites.

Anything you would like to add?

Ms. Brill: I want to thank you for this opportunity to showcase Speech and Language Challenges: The Ultimate Teen Guide. This title is not your everyday got-to-read-it, but I believe it’s an important addition to understanding people with differences of any kind, in this case with communication differences. We can all communicate better, so the book has something for everyone.

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