October 13th, 2008

Earth from space

Casting the net for the YA reader

I tripped over a NY Times article recently that talked about how some science fiction authors are using video games to catch younger readers. The article is the second in a series about technology and reading. An earlier story was on online reading habits of young people. The earlier story was more an argument over what constitutes "reading." This one is about how authors and publishers are using related media to draw kids to books. Quoting a recent poll by the Pew Internet & American Life project, the article states that 97 percent of middle school and high school kids play some form of digital games. That's a lot!

So it makes sense to try. The question remains whether it will work. Strategies include science fiction author PJ Haarsma writing a story that is as much like a game as he can make it, and publisher Scholastic creating a web-based game that is tied to a new 10-book mystery series that just started with The Maze of Bones. Even already-popular YA series like Christopher Paolini's dragon books are going along; Random House Children's Books is creating a game to go along with the series.

It seems to me this falls under the category of "it couldn't hurt." Even if only 10 percent of gamers are actually seduced into reading, that's better than zero.

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