By Kitty Felde
“It’s not that kids don’t like to read. It’s that they don’t like feeling like they’re forced to read.” That’s Eric Berman’s mantra.
Berman is Teen Services Coordinator for the Alameda County Library in California. He says the key is getting reluctant readers hooked on something.
Anything works, he says – comic books, graphic novels, even “those dreadful Minecraft books where people are trapped in the Minecraft world.” Don’t laugh. The building block adventure game is so popular, more than 50,000 people buy the game every day.
If teachers want to take it one step further, there are lesson plans using the game of Minecraft for literacy, writing exercises, and problem solving. Even Scientific American weighed in on the value of Minecraft in the classroom.
Berman says kids are “super-passionate about whatever they’re into right now. They’ll just consume everything.” Five year olds will read every dinosaur book in the library. Twelve year olds are into Minecraft. Berman says there are more than two dozen Minecraft books. Once they read one, he says, “they’re going to read all of those.”
Let them binge, says Berman. It’s a book. Rejoice. “Encourage them. Because if they’re excited about that, they’re going to go on to the next thing.” It leaves less time for complaining about being forced to pick up a book.
Kitty Felde is host and executive producer of the Book Club for Kids podcast, winner of the DC Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities. The show is booking DC schools for December tapings. Contact the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.