This is a guest blog post from Chelsea Academy student, Kane Joseph. He did a week of work experience at Brompton Library earlier this month. Kane learnt about the different aspects of working for the library service by assisting staff with their daily jobs and he has contributed to this edition of our blog.
As a keen reader, he was happy to share his childhood experience of discovering books at school and his story may hopefully inspire other young adults to get passionate about reading. He also compiled a recommendation list for teenagers who would like some ideas on which book to read next.
We hope you enjoy reading Kane’s blog post as much as we did.
How reading changed everything
In present times, it’s still very surprising to some of my classmates to find out that I was never one for reading when I was younger. They never believe me when I tell them of course. I found reading a fruitless activity really, what with all that time spent staring at pages upon pages of undecipherable gibberish. It bored me and as a kid, you get bored quite easily. Having not many friends who liked reading didn’t help. So I guess that this entry is about how that opinion changed and how I’ve bettered and matured over the time it took for me, an ordinary guy, to grow into a stage where literature has become a daily occurrence.
I can remember back to the first book I had ever really gotten into. It was really early in around the kindergarten age and it was ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. It was colourful and had a lot of vibrant and mellow colours, a cute story really when I look back. Probably not the first book I read on my own but it still holds significance as being the first I read consistently. I was an intelligent child but awfully lazy at most of the things we did.
I used to be a low level at English and when I actually tried, it was my best subject. I found out then that I had a passion for certain genres. Not fairy tales, nor picture books or beginner reads. No, I found myself craving fantasy, action and horror. I wanted to dive in to a story that was deep and convoluted with plenty of moments that made me laugh or cry with joy. Through the years up until secondary school, the more I read within these genres that I had persuaded myself to pursue, the more I branched out and wanted to see more. Through all the trials, I pushed through all the way to the September of 2007.
Then, I received reports of my progress in all subjects. And the results were outstanding – the highest levels I had ever gotten. The best behaviour I had ever had for a long time. I didn’t even realise this until that time but I had impressed quite a few people and inspired quite a few others to follow. But of course, with every good thing comes a bad thing. Sadly, you often encounter lots of people in your life who will actively try to tear down the things. I did get criticized quite a lot for my love of books, mocked for reading lots quite actively. You begin to doubt yourself a little, but if you push through it and get where you want to be, you can look at the others who are struggling and prove them wrong. You don’t get anywhere unless you stop trying to impress others and start trying to better yourself.
Right now, everything has changed from that September onwards. Secondary school’s a whole new ballpark but I’m ready to keep moving on up in grades to GCSEs and so forth. Exams and lots of textbook reading (not at all fun) now sort of clutter up my schedule. Don’t think I’m giving up on reading though. The last book series I had read had been The Artemis Fowl series (by Eoin Colfer), which had been quite the rollercoaster ride. Evil pixies, goblins, evil geniuses, lands at the centre of the earth, train chases, high flying action sequences….the list goes on.
I don’t think I’ll be putting off reading the rest of those books for a while now!
And there are many other book series out there with many different themes that everyone can love and share with others. Have a little sister or brother who gets bored easily? Try something that will keep them immersed and wanting to see over and over again. Not satisfied with the movie of a book? Read the actual book and who knows, it might just be better than the movie (Ha, Take that Twilight!) A local library full of study references you need? Use it – you’re sure as heck going to need it in the future. Just remembering this one phrase, one phrase that I still hold dear to my own heart is enough to inspire me to keep going.
Reading is the tool to unleash our brilliant minds. For at the end of the day, it is not about the words written on the page, it’s how you used them.
Inspiring, right? These are the words that pressed me onwards to better grades, the ones that stand out every time I think back, and the words that encouraged me to start writing my own novel, in my spare time. It’s a tedious process but it’s certainly rewarding to stand back and feel proud in seeing something you made. Like building a wardrobe from IKEA and after your 43rd try getting it perfect.
So, in conclusion, there’s not much else to say. If someone seven years ago had shown me a book and asked me to read it through, I would have blown them off and continued on my merry way. Now, I’d probably freely take it off your hands and you’d never get it back until I was done with it. But that just shows that change can be prosperous as well as enlightening. So whether you’re young or old, fond of books or not, I recommend picking a genre and browsing through them all. You honestly don’t know what you’re missing.
Who knows? You might just find something that inspires you too.
Kane’s young adult recommendations
1. THE ARTEMIS FOWL SERIES by Eoin Colfer
Great for aspiring young evil geniuses, this book definitely gets you hooked with its intense and mysterious tone, along with splashes of humour dotted around and most fantastical theme. With a daring and intelligent anti-hero at the helm, you know sometimes it’s good to be bad.
2. The DANIEL X SERIES by James Patterson
I could honestly not tear my eyes away from the blurb of this book the first time I saw it in my school library. The story’s intense, the action isn’t frequent but it’s refreshing and the amount of mind games they play are astronomical. The protagonist has his own strengths and flaws along with an absolutely awesome team beside him. You could almost say this book is out of this world.
3. THE SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT SERIES by Derek Landy
Is it wrong to fall completely in love with a book? I’m afraid I’m guilty in that regard because none of the S.P books disappoint. I’d say these are the best on my list, the reason being that the characters are hilarious, the humour is witty and sarcastic and the villain just makes you shudder. Definitely not a book for young children (due to the violence depicted within) but a bone chilling thrill ride that you cannot afford to miss.
4. THE PERCY JACKSON BOOKS: THE LOST OLYMPIAN by Rick Riordan
These are the books that taught me all about Greek mythology before we had even touched upon it at school. Riordan has really done his research, fleshing out a convincing tale of betrayal, heroism, self-doubt and even a bit of romance. I’d recommend reading the other five books before this one because each is just as good as the last. Favourite character has to be Thalia just because she’s a butt-kicking side character who deserves her own spotlight.