Posts Tagged ‘Teenage Fiction’

Amazing Ways Reading Can Change Your Life For The Better!

Written by R on . Posted in From Kube Shelves, Uncategorized

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study found that only 26 percent of students in England enjoy reading. That’s a really sad statistic. If you can’t remember when last you picked up an intriguing book and lost yourself in a story, it’s time to read more and do so with your children, too. There is a rich legacy of libraries in Muslim lands, which highlight the need for more reading, especially in our modern time where we are distracted by technology that prevents us from engaging with our imagination and the world around us. Here is why reading is so important for you and your family.

Reading Prevents Cognitive Decline

When you read, you decrease your risk of mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Protein that accumulates in the brain is directly linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that there are lower levels of these proteins in people who read, write, or play games. While you’re reading, you’re firing up your brain, learning lots of new things that keep your brain sharp.

 

Reading Decreases Depression

If you’re feeling down about life, reach for a book. Research from the University of Liverpool found that people who read are 21 percent less likely to say they feel depressed and 10 percent more likely to have positive self-esteem. Books transport you to other worlds and can help to distract you from what’s bothering you.

Reading Is Relaxing

A study by the University of Sussex found reading is an activity that eliminates stress. Researchers monitored people’s muscle tension and heart rates, finding that it takes just six minutes of reading for people to relax. In order to combat stress, Muslims can do well to turn to the Qur’an which offers a lot of comfort in the face of stress and trauma. There are also great books about understanding the Qur’an and daily wisdom to apply to your life that can prove highly valuable.

Reading Can Boost Your Sleep Quality

Studies have shown that poor quality of sleep is tied to electronic use before bed, such as using tablets or smartphones. These electronics emit a blue light that stimulates the brain, and can therefore make you battle to fall asleep. Avoiding screens is important. Reading with a book, in a dimly lit room, is a healthier way to encourage relaxation and sleep before bedtime, and is especially useful if your children are too energetic before bed.

Reading To Children Improves Their Vocabulary And Knowledge

Read wonderful books to your children to increase their vocabulary and knowledge. Benefits of regular reading time with children include getting them ready for school, teaching them to focus and concentrate on a task, teaching them new words that will enrich their language, and boosting their imagination which can make them more creative. Studies have found that children who are read to from when they’re really young have better language development and higher language scores in school. Reading with toddlers in which you let them hold the book and turn its pages can also develop their motor skills.

Reading Makes You Empathetic

Essex Libraries has tackled the question: what makes a book encourage empathy in readers? Something they found is that well-rounded characters that the reader can believe in are important, as well as characters who make it easy for the reader to feel they would do the same thing if they were in the characters’ shoes. Reading books to children can help them to imagine what it would be like to be in those characters in the stories, helping them take the empathy and understanding of others learned from books and use these skills in real life.

Reading is one of the most powerful ways you can enrich your life and help your children grow. By dedicating to daily reading, you can boost your brain function and gain better skills, such as empathy, that will make you a better person.

 

Jane Sandwood – Freelance Writer

An interview with Na’ima B. Robert about her forthcoming book SHE WORE RED TRAINERS

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books, News and events

This article was commissioned and published by Books for Keeps. Read the original article here.

Naima B Robert

 

 

 

 

 

Na’ima B Robert is ‘descended from Scottish Highlanders on her father’s side and the Zulu people on her mother’s, was born in Leeds, grew up in Zimbabwe, went to university in London and now ‘divides her time between London and Cairo’. Unsurprising, then, that her novels trade in contrasts and conflicts: between cultures, youth and experience, artistic and academic, religious and secular. But her new book, She Wore Red Trainers, is a love story. Geraldine Brennan talked to Na’ima about the book for Books for Keeps.

She Wore Red Trainers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long hot summer waiting for A-level results, a cute boy and an opinionated girl – does a romcom-inspired plot have to be any less page-turning because the characters are Muslim?

Na’ima B Robert believes not, but her portrayal of Amirah and Ali’s growing relationship in She Wore Red Trainers, her fifth young adult novel, reflects life for contemporary young Muslims whose contact with the opposite sex is structured by the traditions of their faith and community.

So the instant physical attraction between Amirah and Ali cannot be acted on overtly: they cannot be alone together (even making eye contact is frowned upon) and it is assumed that their relationships are the business of their families.

Amirah’s influences include her divorced mother, a convert to Islam whose unhappy experiences have turned her daughter away from the early marriage that many young Muslims choose. Meanwhile her traditionally minded brother Zayd, who is responsible for approving her future husband, has rejected Ali as a potential suitor on a first meeting.

Na’ima has rooted the love story firmly in urban British Muslim culture, to offer both a story that teens growing up in this culture can relate to and a challenge to preconceived ideas about attitudes to marriage and relationships in Muslim families, such as the tradition of arranged marriage. As founding editor of the UK Muslim women’s magazine, Sisters, Na’ima is aware of the wide spectrum of interpretations of tradition, ‘more cultural than religious’, as she says.

‘I’m not saying that all Muslims live like the families in the story, but I have tried to be true to the community I am writing about and where young people I know are coming from,’ she says. ‘In a family that is functioning well the family would be highly invested in the girl’s future but it would start from what the girl really wants and she would have a space to understand and articulate that and discuss it in depth.

‘There are many variations within this. Amirah’s family is not functioning so well, her brother doesn’t understand her and her mother makes some bad decisions because she doesn’t have a lot of supportive relatives around. Zayd feels the responsibility of a father but he doesn’t have a lot of life experience and his default position is that he wants Amirah to marry someone like himself.’

But Amirah is a rebel and rejects the man Zayd chooses for her. ‘Hassan is a catch but her gut feeling says no: the gut feeling is important however you meet future partners,’ Na’ima says. ‘In an ideal world your family would understand everything you needed in a husband – in Amirah’s case this is someone who really gets her artistic side, which Ali does.’

The ‘nobody-understands-me’ misery that afflicts both Amirah and Ali is common to all teens, and Na’ima’s own teenage years in a westernised high school in Zimbabwe (she converted to Islam at 21) taught her the benefits of a more segregated environment.

‘There was pressure to cultivate a personality that boys liked. I would see girls switch on the bimbo button when boys were around and laugh at boys’ jokes whether they wanted to or not. I was at a mixed school and at 14 asked my parents to send me to a girls’ school. I found the constant pressure too much.

‘Surviving dating, the uncertainties and the heartache, and somehow keeping your self-esteem intact, is very hard for teens. It’s one of the biggest things you have to deal with at a time when you need a space to grow up and be yourself, find out who you are.’

Amirah has also tried and rejected a more mainstream teenage lifestyle and chosen to navigate relationships within Muslim culture. As in all good romcoms, she finds the space she needs with her girlfriends, who support her plan to stay single until she has made the life she wants as an artist. Although the girls have compiled a league table of fanciable boys, the lack of male companions at their café meetings, summer charity projects and glitzy nights out is presented as a benefit rather than a deprivation, as Na’ima says.

‘For Amirah and her friends, the decision is made that guys aren’t going to be part of the picture at the moment. Dating and romance is not taking up their time, it’s for later.’

Yet the story, with all its disappointments and misunderstandings between the couple who survive on a word here and a glance there, is still deeply romantic: ‘just a different kind of romance’.

Na’ima’s first readers were Muslim teenagers in Cairo where she lives for part of the year with her husband and four children. ‘They found the British teenagers different to themselves in their references to Islam – in Egypt it’s not consciously discussed in the same way. But they saw where the characters and relationships were coming from. I consciously went for a very dramatic ending and I’ve heard that many people cry at the end.’

She Wore Red Trainers is published by Kube Publishing.

Geraldine Brennan is a journalist specialising in children’s books and education, regularly reviews for theObserver and has judged several literary awards.

Na’ima B Robert to Publish YA novel with Kube

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books, News and events

As some of you will know we are publishing Naima Robert’s next novel, which is titled SHE WORE RED TRAINERS.

It is a book about two young adults falling in love and their struggles to contain their feelings in order to uphold their faith. It is also a book that makes it clear that romance and religion are perfectly compatible.

We will have a sample chapter available soon.If you want to see it like please add a comment to this post.

In the meantime, take a look at the book cover and let us know your first impressions.

She Wore Red Trainers

An Interview With Mehded Maryam Sinclair

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books

With the release of the award-winning book When Wings Expand by Mehded Maryam Sinclair approaching, we thought we would ask the author a few questions about the book and her future plans.

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you became a children’s author.

I re-discovered the power of story thirty years ago when my sons were toddlers. That led me to using story as a therapeutic technique when I later worked as a therapist in an adolescent alcohol and drug abuse treatment center. This work paved the way to a fourteen-year career as a touring and teaching storyteller in the US with the Vermont Council on the Arts. From there I reverted to Islam, around 20 years ago, and since then I have been very interested in the work of serving the Muslim community by researching what has been lost and writing with a new eye stories that are edifying and inspiring and reflect the Truth.

When Wings Expand is your latest book. Tell us a bit about it.

Wings is a journal of a well-loved Muslim girl whose mother is dying of breast-cancer. She names her journal, a gift from her mother, and then chronicles her days as one would to a trusted friend for the next two years. We learn from her how it feels to anticipate, then experience, then grieve and then recover, and we witness how she is able to share her newfound capacities with a girl in dire need of help.

What was your inspiration for When Wings Expand?

Alhamdulillah I was given experiences of death to learn from. My mother died when I was fifteen, my brother died just after I delivered my second son, and my dear friend died six years after that. These were all deaths among non-Muslims before I reverted to Islam. After I became Muslim and began to learn more about the truth of death, I wanted to explore that in greater depth and started writing this work as a story. At that time it wasn’t a journal, and I hadn’t covered much of the main character’s struggle and grieving. I showed it to the then-Kube children’s editor Fatima D’Oyen, and she suggested turning it into a journal and focusing more on grief and healing. This frightened me, I must say, and I had to live through a few more years looking inward and studying before I could finish the writing.

The book presents an affirmation of faith, rather than the typical crisis of faith, after a life-changing event. Was this intentional?

Yes, it was. Most of what gets published is about the crises of faith and the failures of faith. That is actually a very one-sided picture. I wanted to give a view of the felicity, aid and peace that comes with being committed to taking the Deen as it has been prescribed rather than the way we think it should be. Those are the stories that sometimes get ignored in the current marketplace atmosphere. And yet people want and really need those stories, maybe even more than the sensational ones, which reinforce a prevalent world-view of cynicism.

Do you have any future plans for more Muslim books?

Please make dua for me! I want to finish two other projects, young-adult novels of historical fiction based on the history that has been lost and obliterated.

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