Acceptance, the Holiday Season and Books


December – the coldest month with the warmest of themes. It is the time when it’s socially acceptable for a bearded man to enter other people’s chimney and to blast Mariah Carey’s all I want for Christmas on repeat. This month has many different types of importance’s, unique to every person: religion, traditions, midterms, holiday break, etc. With so much happening this month, I wanted to discuss high school, and acceptance during the holiday season in relation to books.

Currently I’m a sophomore in high school and midterms are approaching. Stress has polluted the air, throwing everyone into a frenzy. While I realize high school is a sheltered place and just the beginning, it can sometimes feel like my whole world. I often see other students whose confidence fluctuates with every grade. It is too easy to enable stress and worry take over when school feels like a competition to emerge at the top. However high school isn’t just academic, it's a period of time where teenagers have to attempt to figure out who they are, find a friend group, and think about the future outside of classroom walls. Recently I had become so worried that I wasn’t smart enough to be successful that I ended up spending so much time being frustrated that I didn’t even make an attempt to try. Later I realized that everyone has different capabilities and that I had to understand that not everyone can be Einstein, no matter how hard they try. Though it most definitely sounds cheesy, I took my parents advice and set my goal to trying my best. I know this phrase is used as an excuse, but the maximum anyone can give is their best. Most people in America who have gone through high school can relate to each other’s high school experiences. There are so many components and layers to high school. If a young adult novel takes place at school or is comprised of teenagers, it has to feel real and relatable to make an impact. An author has to truly capture the emotions, scenarios, and mindset of this time to be successful when writing to young adults.

As social media and the internet continue to grow, more and more information is uncovered and discovered, forcing people to observe their surroundings. This month people will be celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or simply snow days. I think it is very important during this season to respect everyone’s choice in how they do, or do not celebrate. I realize that there is always controversy involving the way Christmas is handled at schools. However the conversation is important to prevent any child from feeling alienated. Similarly I support novels that have strong opinions in them, but an insightful story has to look at the plot and ideas from more than one perspective (I learnt that at school).

Before I end this post I just wanted to remind you to remember to experience the little things in life that bring you joy during this crazy season.

Happy Holidays!

Faryal Jabbar

Children and Reading – Inspiring Wonder and Imagination


Today, for most Americans, school starts at the tender age of 5 years old. In which young children are taught the basics like how to read, write, add, and subtract. I remember the main focus in elementary school was reading and still is from what I’ve observed from my younger siblings. Teachers desperately try to engage students in books by requiring reading logs and introducing prominent children's books to them. Reading is a skill that gifts the power to learn and communicate. At first, learning is by no means easy or a true passion for it has to inspire.

There are thousands of children's book out there, each typically crafted with a moral and lesson in mind. As a result children's books play a huge role in kid’s lives because they teach them how to read and spark their imagination. Often people have the mindset that they are not learning anything reading fictional books because they can’t see any facts or information. However reading develops comprehension, empathy, and wonder. For a child nowadays with both books and tablet readers, it can be difficult to resist the world of online games and cartoons. While these things are by no means bad, there is a different feeling and understanding when watching a movie versus reading a book.  Children can think for themselves and develop a relationship with characters in a book easier than in a cartoon. What better way to teach a child to try new things than “Green Eggs and Ham” by Doctor Seuss. He and many other authors entertain and teach kids through their stories.

 After I grew out of only reading picture books I lost interest in reading and saw it as a chore my teacher was making me do. Luckily after I had read “Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan it was like I had a tiny awakening. I read and read, everything from Harry Potter to books about stereotypical high school life that I was enamored by. Although I haven’t lost my love of reading, I too haven’t picked up a book on my own for a while and have turned to bingeing on Netflix when I have free time. I’m not that old, but I think that as people get older they blame the things they don’t do on time. Everyone I’ve talked to say they simply don’t have time to read including myself. However after writing this article and remembering the feeling of hearing my favorite children's books I am inspired to start making time to read again. The books many of us feel as a part of our growing up is an important feeling for children to have.

There is no one perfect formula to creating a children’s book. All there has to be is a story that has the power to catch the attention of a child. It is amazing how an author can use a small and simple set of words to communicate a message that shapes the way a child sees the world around them.

Fall and Fantasy


October is Fall’s grand entrance, even though it technically starts in September. The shopping aisles turn oranger, the air becomes crisper, the sleeves longer, and the turkeys sparser.

However Fall’s biggest bash is Halloween where many of us dress up as our favorite book and movie characters, famous people, or monsters. It’s been long thought of as a day you can be anyone, or at least that’s what I’ve seen from countless Halloween movies. My favorite part of the 31st, besides the chocolate, is how the unusual becomes fun, ordinary, and accepted. If everyday looked like Halloween it would be like a fantasy novel.

Fantasy novels rest on the bridge of reality as we know it and a different world that is born from an author's mind. What makes a book fantasy is when there is make-believe and there are no constraints to what is possible. This is my favorite genre because people have the power to make imaginary worlds real in the form of novels, movies, and amusement parks.

After I compared the countless fantasy books I’ve read, I realized why I love them so much. They all share something in common; the main characters are regular people or magical beings with human issues like love and family, but at the same time they are fighting nose-less evil wizards or werewolves. An example of this would be, Harry Potter arguably the most famous young adult book ever written. I wouldn’t say it’s the “deepest” -or most beautifully written - book I’ve ever read, but it transports you to another universe that feels so real. Everyone can relate to one of Harry’s multitude of problems and enjoy the amazing world that reflects many of the themes in our own reality. Most people, including myself say that their favorite part of fantasy is the escapism, where real life doesn’t matter. However I think what makes fantasy special is that while it is drastically different, it draws from ordinary life and creates something amazing.

So, this Halloween when you're at a loss of what to dress up as, think of your favorite fantasy novel, bringing your own fantasy to the magical night.

P.S. To all students: Don’t forget to do your homework as unfortunately in this reality Halloween is on a Tuesday. :)

What Does it Mean to be a Main Character?


Seven of us sat together around the plastic table inside our local froyo shop one day when our book-obsessed friend looked up from her latest fanfiction and questioned, “Which one of us would be the main character?” We all turned to our tall, fiery, red-headed friend, and unanimously agreed she would be the obvious lead. As we walked out of the pink store, my best friend tilted her head and asked me, “Why couldn’t we be the main characters?” That question has stuck with me. What does it really mean to be the main character?

I looked at many books and questioned how an author can choose a single character to expose to their audience. The genre that was the hardest to analyze was war stories. There are thousands of people who are involved in war, and this generates millions of stories. The author has to make the decision to choose the one story that will capture the hearts of the readers. I realized that each of us is the main character in our own life or rather our own story. It seems as though new authors develop their main characters from their own life stories and place them in a high school or on the battlefield. That’s what I love about indie books because it’s a chance to see the author’s perspective, and become attached to their characters.

As a young adult reader myself, my favorite books are the novels in which I can relate. Our favorite genres and personalities are changing and evolving. Books are opportunities to flee our lives and experience new things through these characters. This is the important job of authors, to create characters: animals, people, faeries, mythological beings, or even aliens that can, in a very simple way, change the lives of a reader.