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Nonfiction - Education

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How to Talk to Porcupines: A Youth Worker's Communication Field Guide

ISBN: 9781643437026
Binding: Paperback
Author: Allegra Birdseye-Hannula
Pages: 144
Trim: 7 x 9 inches
Published: 09/19/2023

Youth have unique stories to tell, and prickly personalities (also known as porcupines) share their stories to express a need. It's important to help unlock and hear the porcupine's story to address the need. But quills hurt—especially when they get under your skin. This guide is designed to give you environmental cues, tips, and tricks to respond appropriately when prickly personalities arise.

Discover new ways to connect and communicate with young people so you can feel more confident when working with prickly personalities and learn how to:

  • Identify porcupines in the field
  • Recognize when and how communication breaks down
  • Improve your communication know-how to skillfully redirect prickly personalities
  • Add effective and impactful communication strategies to your tool kit
  • Acquire new tools and strategies to help youth name their big emotions

Bonus: Each section includes activities designed to help you apply your learnings and develop your own action plan for redirecting and de-escalating porcupines.


Allegra Birdseye-Hannula, MS Teaching, is a lifelong learner and a youth worker, learning and development specialist, and public speaker by trade. She is passionate about delivering impactful commuincation and de-escalation strategies to help youth workers address the needs of prickly youth. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she coaches professionals on youth work, communication, and challenging behavior. How to Talk to Porcupines builds on her award-winning workshop series. In her free time, Allegra enjoys visiting local parks, savoring a cup of coffee or tea, cross-country skiing, making music on the drums, marimba, and piano, and sketching and painting.


"In my 30+ years of supporting young people, this is the best concise yet thorough guide for youth workers I've seen. Whether you're new to the field or a seasoned veteran, this is a must read. Leave it to Allegra to develop the perfect metaphor for the young people we care so much about!" - Paul Meunier, executive director, YIPA

"HOW TO TALK TO PORCUPINES: A YOUTH WORKER'S COMMUNICATION FIELD GUIDE should be a mandatory reading requirement for all positions responsible for interacting with youth. It contains invaluable advice written in a way that can be read as a stand-alone book or field reference guide." - Suzie Housley, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

"Practical, empathetic advice for anyone who works with at-risk youth." - Editor's Pick, BOOKLIFE by PUBLISHERS WEEKLY