Playa del Rey resident’s story featured in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book

By Kamala Kirk

Playa del Rey resident Denise Reich’s story “My Own Label” is included in the new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Preteens.”
Photo Courtesy of Denise Reich

The “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series is known for highlighting heartfelt and inspiring personal stories from people around the world. Playa del Rey resident Denise Reich has published 18 stories in various “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books over the past 12 years. In 2009, her first story about the experience of being with her cat at the end of his life was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned From the Cat.”

Another story Reich wrote that was originally published in 2011 in a previous version of “Chicken Soup” has been included in a new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Preteens.”

“The new book compiles stories from several different books that have been released over the years,” Reich said. “My story is the same as it was when it was first published; however, the format is quite different. It’s smaller than conventional ‘Chicken Soup’ books and has questions and writing prompts after each story. It’s designed to be a book that preteens can carry, read and engage with.”

Reich’s story, “My Own Label,” is about her experiences in the fifth and sixth grade dealing with fashion and label-conscious classmates who made fun of her for not wearing designer clothing.

“It was fairly vicious and the fact that I remember it vividly all these years later speaks to that,” Reich shared. “I begged and pleaded for one designer shirt because I thought that would stop the torment. My mother somehow scraped together enough money for one, but my classmates were visibly upset when I wore it. It was so ridiculous that it made me realize they weren’t worth worrying about. Their taunts just bounced off me after that because their words carried no weight with me.”

Reich’s other stories that have been published in various “Chicken Soup” books over the years run the gamut from childhood anecdotes to accounts of meeting actors from “Star Wars.” While she doesn’t write as a career, Reich has been writing for most of her life. As a teenager she co-wrote a book on youth journalism and has also contributed nonfiction articles and essays to numerous publications.

“I really enjoy “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” because they publish a variety of authors and perspectives in their goal to uplift readers,” Reich said. “The editors are incredibly kind and open. I’ve also really loved some of the international translations that have been released. I was born in Italy so it was especially meaningful to me when two of the books I was in were translated into Italian. I think readers will love that this new book takes a very holistic approach to the term ‘thinking positive.’ The stories don’t all have happy endings. The narrators don’t always get what they want. What is positive is that the writers all got through whatever they were facing and learned something from it that they can share with the rest of us.”

“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Preteens” retails for $10.95 and royalties from the book will support the work of Kids in Crisis, an organization that helps families in need.