I have never quite understood people who dislike reading. If I could, I would spend an entire year on an island devouring all the books I have stacked in my 'must-read-before-I-die' pile. Nevertheless, I do understand that to some, this would be a complete nightmare. Especially teens with far too much free time and access to the internet.

Full disclosure - I am not a parent. But, I have had numerous discussions with my teenage family members about their reluctance to read in their free time. I have spoken to their tired-out parents too, about the struggle to get their kids to 'pick up a book for a change'. While I may be no expert on the matter, I do have a few tips and tricks to share when it comes to getting young people to read more.

Start Them Out Young 

Parents know the importance of reading to their children, yet many seldom do it. Even those who do, sometimes lack dedication to the cause. Similarly, if you aren't a reader yourself, teaching your child to love literature is likely to be a struggle. Embrace the challenge of turning yourself into a book worm by reading to your child every day. Eventually you will grow so tired of reading the same book over and over again (don't kid yourself, every child has that one favourite book), that you will look for something more suited to your own taste.

Even as your child learns to read for themselves, continue to talk to them about what they are reading. Take them on frequent trips to the library when lockdown is over (this is a building that houses books; just in case you had forgotten) or nearby bookstores. Pick out a series to read through with them, whether it be a classic or something more contemporary. You could also reach out to friends for book swaps or reading get-togethers. The aim here is to instill a love of reading in your child when young to ensure a lifelong love of books.

reading

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When You've Left It Too Late

There is no judgement here, we promise. But, even if you haven't invested time in your child's reading habits before their teen years, it's never too late. The key to triggering the reading bug in your teen is to find out their interests (easier said than done, we know). Understanding your child's fascinations is the gateway into picking their potential favourite reads. You can learn a lot from the types of films, music and school subjects they enjoy. Many parents make the crossover from film into novels by investing in book series that have been turned into blockbuster hits. Make it a challenge to read the book before watching the movie. Or, encourage your teen to go back and read the book versions of their favourite movies.

Adolescent boys are particularly known for being reluctant readers of fiction. A great way to get your teen reading up a storm is to turn to technology for help. Audible.com has made a selection of its audio books for kids and teens free to listen to until schools reopen. Alternatively, check out the Gauteng Virtual Library for a great selection of eBooks that you can loan for up to two weeks, completely free!

Young Adult Novels To Look Out For In 2020

Romance

Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson is a beloved children's and young adult author. In August 2020, her most highly-anticipated novel is due for release. Love Frankie is about falling in love for the first time, coming out and standing up against your bullies. Frankie is growing up all too fast, no thanks to her school bully, Sally, and her gang of followers. But when Frankie and Sally develop an unlikely friendship, things begin to change in more ways than one. Might Frankie be falling in love? And, does Sally feel the same way?

Love Frankie is right at the top of our must-read YA novels for 2020. Encourage your teen to get stuck in between their homework and other chores. The book is 432 pages long, but it is wonderfully illustrated by Nick Sharrat, so even the most stubborn readers should find something to enjoy.

Fantasy

The Conference of Birds by Ransom Riggs

If your teen loves a good spooky read, get them a copy of The Conference of Birds by Ransom Riggs. The fifth installment of the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series is just as spine-chilling as its predecessors. You may consider gifting your teen with the entire series to get them started on their reading journey. The box set is available from Exclusive Books for *R624.00.

From The Movies

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games series may be a bit past your teen's time, but if they enjoyed the films then this new prequel installment will delight their inner bookworm. A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the gruesome Hunger Games. Taking an interesting turn, the book focuses on future President Snow's rise to success and the origins of the Hunger Games tournament.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has already sold 500,000 copies in the US alone. Get your teen a copy online from Loot.co.za or risk them suffering serious FOMO. 

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Happy reading, kids!

Let's Get Reading! 

For those of us still under isolation at home, reading is the perfect way to pass the time. But, if you are anything like us, you've most likely devoured your pile of must-reads and are in desperate need of a book refill. That's where the Gauteng Virtual Library comes in super handy! This new online eBook, audio book and video platform is providing thousands of library users with popular fiction reads, children's titles and video content to keep entertained while under lockdown. All you need to access their collections is an active library card number. You can use an existing library card from your nearest local library or apply for a new card on the site. Once you have your card ready to go, simply browse through collections to find your perfect lockdown read.

Gauteng Virtual Library

A Parent's Saving Grace

Many parents have turned to homeschooling their children during lockdown. To help see you through until schools reopen, the Gauteng Virtual Library is stocked full with classic children's titles and new book releases. Enhance your at-home learning sessions by borrowing an eBook to read together. The virtual library's audio book collection is also wonderful for bed time or to keep the kids busy while you attend to work or chores.

Is your child a Potterhead in the making? The Gauteng Virtual Library has made the first novel of the Harry Potter series available for the month of May. Both the eBook and audio book are available without a waiting period, so you can unlock the magic right away! The library has also included the book in a variety of languages, so all can enjoy the wonder of JK Rowling's famous magical world.

Teenagers are notorious for their lack of interest in reading. Get your teen reading up a storm with the Gauteng Virtual Library's collection of age-appropriate series. From fantasy fiction to romance, this library has all a young adult reader needs to escape their world. The library also has a separate classics section, so teens can do some extracurricular reading for their English classes.

What About The Adult Readers?

The Gauteng Virtual Library caters to adult book lovers, too. Their adult collection features over 700 eBooks and audio books available to borrow. Choose your next lockdown read from their selection of thrillers, romance and bestsellers from the world's most popular authors, including Lee Child, Dan Brown and Danielle Steel. Or, get round to reading all those classic books we all claim to have read, but never have. The Gauteng Virtual Library also has a great selection of non-fiction titles, covering a range of topics. Learn a new skill in lockdown or brush up on your general knowledge using these books. You can borrow a book for up to two weeks. If the book you want to read is already borrowed out, place a hold on it and you will be notified when it becomes available.

Gauteng Virtual Library

For More Information

Visit https://gauteng.overdrive.com/ to join the Gauteng Virtual Library or visit the Apple App Store/ Google Play Store to download the Libby App - a platform that allows you to read eBooks and audio books from your local public library for free!

If you are part of a book club, send your book club name to [email protected] and suggest books that you need to review.

Happy reading! 

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

What’s braver than facing up to a ferocious Bengal tiger? Take your kiddies on a journey into the dense forests of India to meet Mowgli, Bagheera and Baloo, as they face up to the fearsome Sheer Khan. Rudyard Kipling’s collection of short stories are the perfect escape for young minds during this time of uncertainty. You can read the Disney version, but we recommend Kipling’s original short stories to appreciate the full wonder of Mowgli's world. 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Another story of great bravery, Roald Dahl’s Matilda encourages children to stretch their imaginations. In a world where the adults are the enemy (besides the delightful Miss Honey, of course), Matilda teaches children to trust in their cleverness and their ability to tell good from evil. Dahl is a master storyteller, using witty poetics and rhyme to keep young minds entranced. You may want to invest in his entire collection of works once lockdown has ended, as we are sure that your little ones will be hooked in no time. 

read with the kids

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

The world may seem a little topsy-turvy to children right now. So, why not let them dive into Lewis Carrol’s upside down, mad hatter land in Alice in Wonderland? With a new obstacle at every turn, Alice’s journey into Wonderland offers children an epic adventure filled with weird and wacky characters. Alice’s bravery and smarts may also be an inspiration for young ones, as they navigate their way through this period of confusion and isolation. Make reading this classic a super fun family activity by encouraging the kids to dress up as their favourite character and to join you for a mad hatters picnic in the garden.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis 

Children may be looking for guidance and wisdom as they struggle to come to terms with COVID-19 and its impact on their lives. Who better to look to for sage advice than C.S Lewis' great lion, Aslan, out of The Chronicles of Narnia? Set during WWII, this classic children's fantasy series follows the four Pevensie children as they travel through an old wardrobe into the magical and mystical world of Narnia. The Pevensie children's courage and determination against great odds should be excellent motivation for little ones during this challenging time. 

read with the kids

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a master craftsman, painting vivid worlds in which dark magic lurks. To a child's mind, COVID-19 may seem like a dark, mysterious force, as it isolates them from friends and other childhood whims. Gaiman's Coraline is the perfect antidote to fear and anxiety over things that lurk in the dark. While this book often scares adults, children approach the story with wonder and engagement, as they follow the daring Coraline into the 'Other World'. This is likely to become a book that you and the kids read over and over again, each time discovering some new flicker of Gaiman's genius.

Not sure you can pull off all the creepy, crawly voices to convey the atmosphere of Gaiman's writing? Why not let the author himself read to them? Visit Neil Gaiman's website for more information about his stories for children and for a full reading of Coraline and other books.

Audiobooks For Little Listeners

We understand that you may not always have time to sit down with the little ones to read them a story. That's where Audible.com comes in handy! Offering free streaming on a range of children's audio books until schools re-open, Audible.com is an invaluable resource to keep handy during this time, as well as on long journeys and before bedtime. Covering titles for little readers, primary school kiddies, tweens, teens and adults, Audible will have you and the kids listening, learning and imagining for hours on end.

Do your kids have any favourite books? Let us know about them in the comments section below!