Thursday, August 20, 2009

I make great resolutions that I will blog more often and I swear the more I "resolute" the less I blog. So, I am going to only say that I will try and see if that helps. What got me going this a.m. was an exploration of the Monday, August 17th issue of USA Today and finding an article on books and gaming. Lots of hot links in the article so I had to warn myself not to start exploring or I would still be "exploring". Teens may not be big newspaper readers, but articles like this one can be highlighted as "today's cool newspaper article". Add USA Today as a favorite on the computers in the library - We can bemoan the fact that teens don't read the newspaper, but rather than "accepting" this bad news about teens, make the newspaper a source of what they want! Show them its link to their online world of gaming and social networking.

I love USA Today and am always delighted when it is the newspaper outside the hotel room door and it was at the Sheraton in Kansas City. I am just now getting to read it though. Very interesting article "A 'Complex' road to the game world: Designer, book author team up". I had to read it as there is a cover art shot of Orson Scott Card's Empire This futuristic novel about the American Empire, and what can happen when the vicious fighting between the right and the left result in the assassination of the president and the "team" around him, has a setting perfect for the basis of a virtual world game. For readers who love Card's Ender Quartet series, four SF novels focused on Ender Wiggins, a young boy who saves the world, Card's myriad adult novels may not be to their taste, but many male readers move from Ender's Game to Card's adult SF. Card has joined forces with the gaming industry and Card readers will be able to play the downloadable Xbox Live version of Shadow Complex based on Empire. Be aware the game is is rated T (teen) for violence.

Why is this book lover talking about gaming? Because teens love to play games and if we can make the connection for them to books, let's do it! Card states: "When you play the game, instead of trying to act out the whole story of the novel, instead you get to do the cool things that you only read about in the book." Games have players' guides that teens will practically memorize so help these teens realize that reading Empire will increase their ability to play Shadow Complex. Once this word gets out, the library will have waiting list for the book.

What else can we do? Set up displays that connect the books to the games as well as create book lists that focus on the books that have been used as the basis for a game. Take a look at the extensive list of hot links on Wikipedia entry - "Category: Video Games Based on Books" to the content of the games. Yes, I know - Wikipedia is not the most accurate source of information, but in this case it is a good place to start. We have to meet teens in the places they occupy and this is often role playing games.

Librarians are the gatekeeper to the books that will help players excel in the game and yes, even the non-reader teen male will check out classics and and fantasy titles, such as the Shannara series by Terry Brooks if he realizes reading the books will help him excel in playing the game.

I am a big Brooks' fan, but my favorite series of his is Magic Kingdom of Landover series I'd like to take this series with me as audiobooks on an extended vacation. I'd sit back, close my eyes, and let Brooks take me to Landover so I can visit with Ben, Willow, and Abernathy - my favorite characters in this teen friendly series. In most cases, adult fantasy and SF are "safe" for teen readers.

As far away from gaming as I can go, the same issue of USA Today has an opinion column "Teach the Bible? Of course." There are 58 responses to this opinion piece. I have added The Bible and Its Influence to my B&N Wish List. It is a high school level textbook so it is pricey. I'll watch for it on used book sites. Many of my MLS students assume that they can't have the Bible or Bible stories in a school collection. When they tell me this I ask them if they have other books on religions of the world and most respond they do. Hmmm - it is okay to have books on other religions, but not Christianity? Whether you are a Christian or not, Bible "stories" are part of our cultural literacy, such as referring to someone as a "good Samaritan".

Okay, enough for me today. Back to getting my YA Materials course materials updated for Fall semester. Classes begin next week, but faculty has officially been back to work as of Monday. That extended vacation with Brooks' audiobooks? I need it after a wickedly busy summer session teaching 3 classes, having knee surgery, and fibromyalgia symptoms at their worst. I'm working from bed with frozen peas on my knee - the spot I've been in more often than any other this summer. Thank goodness for small laptops. I love the new Dell Latitude E4200.