New Book, “Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery” by Rayne Lacko, Helps Adolescents Identify and Resolve Difficult Emotions Through Creativity

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for students and educators alike, leading educators to wonder how they can incorporate social-emotional learning into classroom curriculum. 

“Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery” by Rayne Lacko can help. The renowned 176-page guided journal is designed to help teens use their innate creativity to identify, work through, and resolve the complex emotions that accompany this stage of life, likely exacerbated by disconnection and the ongoing social effects of the pandemic. 

The National Institute of Mental Health and World Health Organization both cite rising anxiety and depression, with significant increases in anxiety disorders in children and teens. One in seven experience a mental disorder, and one in three is likely to experience an anxiety disorder. 

Each of the 36 creative activities in “Dream Up Now” connects to larger goals of managing feelings constructively, engaging in artistic exploration, and moving from “darkness into light” with repeatable strategies rooted in self-discovery. 

Encompassing arts-based activities like writing, drawing, listening to music, and abstract thinking, the journal is organized by complementary dark and light emotions (called “emotion sets”), so teens can easily turn to the section they need most at any time. Developed with Community Outreach Advisor Lesley Holmes, this transformative work is designed for both individual use and as a companion to customizable group programs for schools, youth organizations, churches, and beyond. Built on Lacko’s experience with developing courses for young people, working with performing arts programs, leadership development, and years of research, “Dream Up Now” uses proven methods to promote stress-relief, cultivate confidence, and develop resilience, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence. 

Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery (ISBN: 9781631985492) is new from Free Spirit Books, a division of Teacher Created Materials, and can be purchased through retailers worldwide. The paperback retails for $15.99. Bulk order discounts are available through the publisher. 

From the back cover:

Your feelings are valid. 

All your feelings – the dark ones, the light ones, the weird ones, the menacing ones, the so-happy-you-might-burst ones, the please-put-me-out-of-my-misery ones – make up who you are. However you feel, use this journal to turn your emotions into art. Tap into your artistic style an create the kind of life you want. Flip through the pages to see which feelings and creative activities speak to you. Digital content includes bonus activity pages and a leadership guide for finding your passion and starting a club or music program at your school. 

About the author:

Rayne Lacko is an author and an advocate for the arts as a form of social and emotional wellbeing. She believes music, language, and art connect us, and explores those themes in her novels, guided journals, online courses, speaking engagements, and in service to performing arts organizations. Rayne holds a BA in Creative Writing and Leadership and is actively pursuing a graduate degree in the field at Antioch University. She is the author of A Song for The Road, as well as short fiction and poetry appearing in Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, Gravel, Mixtape Methodology, and Writer’s Digest. 

As a writing mentor, Rayne cohosts a youth creative workshop, an annual writing camp, and a teen arts showcase. She inspires young people and their families to use creativity to stimulate positive change in their lives and communities. Rayne lives near Seattle, Washington, with her spouse and two boys (a pianist and a drummer), a noisy cat, and her canine best friend. Connect at

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