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Miami Book Fair partner spotlight: Getting kids excited to read

For nearly 40 years, the Miami Book Fair has transformed Downtown Miami into an open-air public library and street fair, with author presentations, music, entertainment, activities and shopping. This year’s literary smorgasbord for 2022 takes place Nov. 13-20, with live and streaming events. South Florida on the Cheap is proud to be a media partner of the fair. Please stay tuned for special promos and/or ticket giveaways as we get closer to the event(s).

Topping the “what’s trending” list are books by and for the young adult (YA) audience that include genres like fantasy and adventure, sci-fi, romance, teen fiction and some of the best suspenseful stories written for avid readers who embrace what the #BookTok challenge and phenomenon is.

Below is a spotlight on a must-read YA book and exclusive, author interview.

About the book 

Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another.

Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?

These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all.

About the author and Q & A

Award-winning author of If You Could Be Mine and Here to Stay, Sara Farizan delivers edge-of-your-seat terror as well as her trademark referential humor, witty narration, and insightful characters in her newest book.

South Florida on the Cheap (SFOTC) had the chance to ask Sara some questions about young adult audiences, reading and books. Here’s the interview:

SFOTC: How do you feel when a YA or kid tells you that they don’t like to read?

Sara: I think you have to meet readers where they are, and to be honest, during these past few years I had trouble reading and had trouble being able to focus to read. I’d ask the young reader what they do like first and agree that I also love TV, music, movies, (I’m not big into social media but I get the appeal) and also tell them that I love comics. I think comics and graphic novels still count as reading and emphasize that. I also just think they haven’t found a book that speaks to them yet. If you can put the right book in a kid’s hands/or on their screen/in their ears as an audiobook you will be amazed by how kids will seek out more stories because they had a great experience. I write books that hopefully gets kids to want to keep reading because they’re fast paced, timely, funny, and gives the reader confidence that they can take on another book.

 

SFOTC: How can we change the current culture of just being online towards a culture of reading and perhaps audible books?

Sara: I wish I knew the answer to that, but I also think that we have to meet young people where they are. There has to be a culture of encouragement and engagement rather than judgment and concern. There are also a lot of young people online talking about what books they’re reading or want to read and I think that’s awesome! I do wish there were moments in the day where kids could take a break/have a twenty-minute reading period or even encourage them to listen to stories during a bus ride/walk that isn’t school related, but kids today seem really under a lot of pressure that I don’t want to add more. If there are ways where we as adults can make reading seem fun or seen as a time of reflection rather than a chore, I’m all for it and hope we can all work on ways to foster the love of reading.

 

SFOTC: Research has debunked the “attention span” excuse. It’s just that YAs and kids are multi-taskers. How can they better fit reading into their lives if they have to break it out in sessions?

Sara: I think every kid has different ways of engagement or how they best consume a story. And kids and young people have a lot on their minds these days/lots of activities that it can be hard to find time for themselves. It’s also the same with adults in that many of us are busy and maybe we read before we go to sleep or some people like to listen to a book during their commute. Some days maybe we don’t have time to read or want to and other days we might read a book in a day! I think attention is paid when a story is compelling and again is speaking to a young person because of the story and what interests the young person. I think it’s figuring out how to find books that speak to kids which is work teachers and librarians have been doing for years.

 

SFOTC: How can parents and guardians encourage reading better? Starting at an early age?

Sara: I think reading picture books together when kids are very young is a great start. And seeing examples of adults reading in the household. I know it’s a lot and most of us feel we don’t have time to read, but maybe on a rainy Tuesday an adult can say to a kid, “Hey I’m going to read a book. Want to join me?” The kid may say no or roll their eyes, but they might also ask what’s your book about. What’s a book that I might pick for myself if I felt like reading? Again, it’s not about forcing a young person to do something but trying to find the fun in it and making reading an enjoyable experience.

 

SFOTC: I have a 12 year-old who has no idea how to even use email for messaging. She and her friends use social messengers to communicate. How do you see that possibly being a positive for potential readers? Do you think that perhaps books need to be more diverse digitally and play with social media somehow?

Sara: I think again it’s about meeting young people where they are. The social apps might not always have the greatest messaging with certain posts or videos, but it’s also how young people talk to each other. I think there are lots of kids on there talking about all kinds of stuff even including a book they want to read or telling their friends about a book they read. I’m not sure what the solution is to have stories reach kids on the apps, but I would love to know! I hope to write more stories that young people respond to and that fosters a love of reading for the rest of their lives.

Don’t miss meeting Sara at the fair in November. More details to come.

Book fair general info:

Free admission on Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. + 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday is free for kids 12 and under
Adult Street Fair ticket prices are $5-$8 at the gate

 

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More free and cheap entertainment:

Monday, February 6, 2023

Comedy Night at Sandbar Sports Grill

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Sandbar Sports Grill

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Regal Theatres: Discounted movie tickets on Tuesdays

All Day | $5.00-6.00 | Regal Cinemas Multiple Locations

Tasty Tuesdays with Food Trucks

5:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Amphitheater in Boca Raton

Food Trucks Tuesdays

5:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Haulover Beach Park

Comedy Night

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm | $5.00 | Arts Garage

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Noon Tunes in Fort Lauderdale

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm | FREE | Stranahan Park

Food truck gathering at Pelican Harbor Marina

5:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Pelican Harbor Marina

Free music at Gulfstream in Hallandale

6:30 pm to 9:30 pm | FREE | Gulfstream Park Village

Free live music at Hollywood beach bandshell

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Hollywood beach bandshell

Comedy Night at Pub 52

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Nightlife Brewing Co.

Comedy Night at Exit One Taproom

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Exit One Taproom

SoundScape Cinema Series: Free outdoor movies in Miami Beach

8:00 pm | FREE | New World Center | New World Symphony

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Jazz at Jackson

12:00 pm | FREE | Alamo Park

Street Stages

4:30 pm to 8:30 pm | FREE | Old Post Office

Enjoy live entertainment at Clematis by Night

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | West Palm Beach Waterfront

Perez Museum Floating Film

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

GOGO MOAD Art Making Workshop

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm | $15.00 | IS Projects

Free music at Gulfstream in Hallandale

6:30 pm to 9:30 pm | FREE | Gulfstream Park Village

Free live music at Hollywood beach bandshell

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Hollywood beach bandshell

Live music at Doral Yard

7:00 pm to 9:30 pm | FREE | Doral Yard

Friday, February 10, 2023

Seminole Tribal Fair & Pow Wow

11:00 am to 11:30 pm | FREE | Seminole Hard Rock

Night market at Dania Pointe

5:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Dania Pointe

Food truck gathering at Tropical Park

5:30 pm to 10:30 pm | FREE | Tropical Park

Live entertainment at Dania Pointe

6:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Dania Pointe

Free music at Gulfstream in Hallandale

6:30 pm to 9:30 pm | FREE | Gulfstream Park Village

Free live entertainment in Pompano

7:00 pm to 8:00 pm | FREE | Lawn at Atlantic Boulevard and Pompano Beach Boulevard

Jam on percussion for free

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | South Florida Center for Percussive Arts

Free live music at Hollywood beach bandshell

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Hollywood beach bandshell

Tunes 'n Trucks in Sunrise

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | City Park

Free live music at Dolphin Mall

7:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Dolphin Mall

Free outdoor film in Weston

7:30 pm to 9:30 pm | Weston Regional Park

Live Music at Doral Yard

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Doral Yard

Free outdoor films in Hollywood

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | ArtsPark

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Boca Raton Beer Wine & Spirits Fest

Discounted | Mizner Park in Boca

Plantation Farmers Market

8:00 am to 12:00 am | FREE | Volunteer Park Plantation

Sensory Friendly Saturday

9:00 am to 11:00 am | FREE | Miami Children’s Museum

Seminole Tribal Fair & Pow Wow

9:00 am to 11:30 pm | FREE | Seminole Hard Rock

Florida Renaissance Festival on weekends

10:00 am to 6:00 pm | $0-35.28 | Quiet Waters Park

PAMM free day with family activities

11:00 am to 3:00 pm | FREE | Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

Family Fest: Rita Finds Home

12:00 pm to 3:00 pm | FREE | Adrienne Arsht Center

Live entertainment at Dania Pointe

1:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Dania Pointe

Family Day free admission

2:00 pm to 5:00 pm | FREE | Coral Gables Museum

Free GOGO MOAD Family Art Fun

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm | FREE | Surfside Town Hall

Street Stages

4:30 pm to 8:30 pm | FREE | Old Post Office

Cultural Saturdays at Dania Ponite

6:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Dania Pointe

Free music at Gulfstream in Hallandale

6:30 pm to 9:30 pm | FREE | Gulfstream Park Village

Free live music at Hollywood beach bandshell

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Hollywood beach bandshell

Deep Fried Funk in Weston

7:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE

Free live music at Dolphin Mall

7:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Dolphin Mall

Live Music at Doral Yard

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm | FREE | Doral Yard

Discount late-night movies

11:30 pm to 2:00 am | $5.00 | Coral Gables Art Cinema

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Tamarac Farmers Market

9:00 am to 12:00 am | FREE | Veterans Park

Las Olas Oceanside Park vendor market

9:00 am to 4:00 pm | FREE | Las Olas Oceanside Park

Florida Renaissance Festival on weekends

10:00 am to 6:00 pm | $0-35.28 | Quiet Waters Park

Kids' Graffiti Drawing Class

10:00 am | $16.00 | Museum of Graffiti

Seminole Tribal Fair & Pow Wow

11:00 am to 6:00 pm | Seminole Hard Rock

Family Sundays at Dania Pointe

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm | FREE | Dania Pointe

Live entertainment at Dania Pointe

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm | Dania Pointe

Ocean Drive Promenade Music Series

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm | FREE | Ocean Drive Promenade

Tropical Sundays Live Music

5:00 pm to 8:00 pm | FREE | Doral Yard

Free music at Gulfstream in Hallandale

6:30 pm to 9:30 pm | FREE | Gulfstream Park Village

Free live music at Hollywood beach bandshell

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Hollywood beach bandshell

Comedy Night at Nightlife Brewing Co.

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Nightlife Brewing Co.

Salsa dance class

9:00 pm | FREE | Ball & Chain

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