Using Video Games to Encourage Reading

Video games; they’re a reality in today’s world of parenting, but something most parents have developed a kind of love/hate relationship with.

On the one hand, video games can sharpen a child’s hand-eye coordination and keep him occupied long enough for Mom to make dinner.  On the other hand, there’s not a day that goes by when parents read or hear some highly-esteemed educator talking about the evils of kids’ electronic gadgets and how they take away from valuable reading time.

But parents of kids who love their video games take heart; according to a recent article on the GreatSchools website (http://www.greatschools.org/students/homework-help/tested-tips-to-get-kids-reading.gs?content=120), video games can be used to encourage your child to read.  Parents can reach beyond books by subscribing to video game magazines and downloading or buying video game guides that get Junior to read about something he’s interested in.

But once Junior’s finished his video guide to the Harry Potter Lego game, get him to try one of these titles in April:

Infant to preschool

Switching on the Moon:  A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, (Candlewick Press, September 2010), $21.99.  Bedtime is captured poetically in this anthology of sixty softly illustrated poems.  Send your sleepy young one into dreamland with new poems and old favorites from poets such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lee Bennett Hopkins and Mary Ann Hoberman.

Thirsty Thursday, by Phyllis Root, (Candlewick Press, August 2009), $9.99.  Things didn’t go well one Thursday when everything on Bonnie Bumble’s farm felt thirsty.  The snapdragons snapped and the tiger lilies growled.  But then Bonnie gets an idea…Clever wordplay and fun illustrations of Bonnie’s plan to get everything on the farm working together to bring in the rain will make young readers giggle with delight.

Ages 4 to 8

A Primer About the Flag, by Marvin Bell, (Candlewick Press, March 2011), $15.99.  Why do we have flags?  Why do we have so many flags?  In celebration of National Poetry Month (April), this short book (all one whimsical poem) explains what flags are, and what they can and cannot do.  Cute illustrations will make young readers giggle as they show the different ways one can use a flag.

In the Wild, by David Elliott, (Candlewick Press, August 2010), $16.99.  This vividly illustrated book will make young readers eyes widen in wonder as they see, read and hear about how the big elephant is like a cloud, or the boot-like face of a rhinoceros.  A beautiful tribute to animals across the globe.

Ages 12 and up

12 Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali, by Charles R. Smith, Jr, (Candlewick Press, August 2010), $10.99.  Rap-inspired verse tells the story of boxing champ Muhammad Ali from the time he won the 1960 Olympic gold medal to the day he raised a hand shaking from Parkinson’s Disease to light the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996.  This book will engage and inspire young readers as they learn about Ali’s fights in the ring against boxing greats like Joe Frazier, as well as his fight against ideas he felt were wrong, like war.

Young adult

Falling Hard, edited by Betsy Franco, (Candlewick Press, December 2010), $15.99.  Although the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books calls this book “head and shoulders above most young writers’ collections,” and it’s classified as a “young adult” book, it’s a very adult book.  Most poems are quite explicit and some are downright disturbing.  Not exactly a book for parents and children to share.

And only for Mommy…

Transfer of Power, by Vince Flynn, (Pocket Books, 1999), $7.99.  Anna Rielly was excited to begin her new job as a White House correspondent, but she had no idea she’d become a part of the story when she reported for her first day of work.  The dignified composure of the most famous residence in the world was shattered when terrorists gained control of the executive mansion.  Dozens gave their lives to protect the president and others in the White House that day making it possible for the president to make it to an underground bunker, but how long before the terrorists plucked him from safety?  The CIA’s top counterterrorism operative, Mitch Rapp, wasn’t about to let that happen. This fast-paced page-turner will grip you from beginning to end.

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