The Literary Trust released some rather alarming news recently, as they announced that this year they recorded the lowest level of children who read for enjoyment since they started asking in 2005.
The Annual Literacy Survey, based on 71,351 responses from children aged 5 to 18 in early 2023, reveals concerning trends in reading habits. Notably, the survey records the lowest level of reading enjoyment since 2005, with only 43% of children enjoying reading in their free time. Girls and those aged 8 to 11, traditionally avid readers, show a decline in enjoyment. Reading frequency has also decreased, with only 28% reading daily, reflecting a 26% drop since 2005. The report underscores the need for collective efforts to reignite a passion for reading among children and young people. Not one to shy away from a cause such as this, today we start a new series of book recommendations aimed at young people, with the idea of spotlighting those that will spark that love of reading, with recommendations for both confident readers, and those who may need a bit more support. After all, everyone deserves the chance to experience a great story.
READY PLAYER ONE
This is one video-game you don’t need a controller for.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a thrilling science fiction novel set in the dystopian year 2045. In a world plagued by economic collapse and environmental decay, most people escape their grim reality by entering the OASIS, a virtual reality universe created by the eccentric James Halliday. Upon Halliday’s death, he leaves behind a challenge: find three hidden keys and Easter eggs within the OASIS to inherit his vast fortune and control of the virtual world.
The protagonist, Wade Watts, joins the quest, competing against the evil corporation IOI and other players. The story is a nostalgic journey through 1980s pop culture, with numerous references to video games, movies, and music of the era.
As the stakes rise, the narrative explores the consequences of living in a virtual world and the importance of facing reality. Ready Player One is a fast-paced adventure that combines virtual reality, nostalgia, and a quest for self-discovery, making it a captivating and thought-provoking read.
Cline’s writing style is accessible, and the novel is structured like a classic hero’s journey, making it easy for teens to follow and relate to. The virtual universe offers a familiar backdrop, appealing to a generation deeply engaged with technology. The novel’s exploration of friendship, identity, and the consequences of escapism adds depth to its entertainment value, providing substance beyond the action-packed plot. Moreover, the book’s thematic exploration of the balance between the virtual and real worlds provides ample room for reflection, making it not just an engaging read but also a thought-provoking one. For reluctant teen readers, Ready Player One offers a gateway into the world of literature through its dynamic storytelling, relatable characters, and a narrative full of references, riddles, puzzles, and action that feels as interactive as their favorite digital pastimes.
This is a book to get you into reading all over again.
Have Spotify? You can listen to the audiobook with a premium subscription at no extra cost, too. Read along while you listen.
I Am Legend
This is one horror you’ll never want to put down.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is a gripping sci-fi horror novel that delves into the psychological and emotional toll of isolation amidst a post-apocalyptic world. The story follows Robert Neville, the apparent last human survivor of a global pandemic that has turned the rest of humanity into vampire-like creatures. As Neville grapples with the loneliness and fear of being the lone human in a world of monsters, he spends his days scavenging for supplies and his nights barricaded in his home, defending himself against the relentless attacks of the vampiric beings. Amidst this struggle for survival, Neville conducts scientific experiments in an attempt to understand the nature of the pandemic and find a cure. His journey becomes a profound exploration of humanity’s capacity for adaptation, resilience, and the blurred lines between good and evil, monster and man. The novel is so tense and suspenseful, combining elements of horror and psychological thriller.
The greatest strength of I Am Legend is its length. Being such a short book, its fast-paced narrative, punctuated with moments of intense suspense and horror, captures attention from the outset. Matheson’s concise and accessible writing style provides an easy entry point for any who may be hesitant about diving into literature.
Moreover, the psychological depth of Neville’s character adds an intriguing layer to the narrative, inviting teens to ponder themes of isolation, resilience, and the human condition. The book’s exploration of morality and the blurred lines between good and evil gives plenty of food for thought, while the references to the pandemic have eerie relevance to the events of the past few years.
Overall, the novel’s blend of suspense, relatable themes, and accessibility makes it an excellent choice. Don’t bother with the film though.
If you’re a reluctant reader or know anyone who is reluctant to pick up a book but enjoys a bit of science fiction or horror, take a look at the two books above and check back soon for more recommendations. And don’t forget, head down to your local library too, they need the support and it’s very likely they’ll stock these titles (assuming somebody hasn’t beaten you to them).