Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

Children need to learn to read and write. This is an undebatable fact. Well, it’s undebatable from a parents point of view, it is very debatable from a teenagers point of view. I have had a number of conversations with children, including my younger son, about the necessity of reading.

“Why do I need to read when I can watch a movie?”

“Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

The simple answer, is that despite our moving to a more visual and electronic platform, everything in our modern lives is still underpinned by the written word. It is merely it’s shape and form that has changed.

Every movie and most television shows are based on screenplays which are written by writers, or even groups of writers. Many movies and television series are adapted from books. If there were no books, our choices of visual media would be much more limited. Screenplays would be written, but without creativity and a knowledge of writing, a screenplay could not exist. In my experience, the range of creative writing and English literacy skills our children learn is far more expansive than what I learned at school. Their curriculum now includes visual literacy and film study as well as the traditional grammar, poetry, comprehension and creative writing I studied. These are changes that accommodate our changing times.

As for computer games, I soon realised that the computer games my children play are not the Pacman or Donkey Kong style games from my childhood, but are sophisticated stories with themes and plots. My sons have learned all about Greek and Norse mythology from computer games, as well as how to plan a war or battle with supply lines and build an entire society form a little creature that whistles to a race that can fly to the moon. When they were younger, they learned about farming. They planted crops, water and feed them and eventually harvested them.

Picture of Pacman Doodle from Google

The knowledge and skills they have gained from computer games are not inferior or worthless. The games of strategy have taught them useful survival and planning techniques. The most interesting thing for me about their games is that they require reading. There are pop up notifications continuously as the game progresses. The characters also speak and interact and their thoughts and plans are often set out in words exactly like subtitles. I have also discovered that my children Google information about their games and look up how to do things. This also requires reading.

I point this out to them. If you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t be able to play this game. If people didn’t write, there would be no script for the game you are playing. Because our lives are more visual now does not mean that these skills are not longer necessary. There are vital to engage in this virtual world. In this context, my sons understand the importance of reading. I have linked it to their world.

We no longer write letters, but we spend all day long on email. Writing an email requires good communication skills or you will not achieve the desired outcome.

We no longer draft lengthily reports but precise power point presentations with succinct bullet points. If you have prepared such presentations you will know that their preparation requires more thought and careful word choice than the long and wordy documents we produced in the past. Preparing a good presentation requires an ability to summarise and pick pertinent points out of a larger feedback document.

Even those of us who work mainly with figures – the number crunches of the world – have to be able to write and communicate effectively. A complex spreadsheet and lines of figures must be reduced to a written interpretive document and then to a concise bulleted presentation. They are meaningless without interpretation and communication to others.

As a parent of two teenage boys I have learned to put my personal prejudices [or literary snobbery] aside when it comes to learning to read. There is nothing wrong with graphic novels. In fact, a lot of our adult humour and political sarcasm is shared through cartoons and memes. This makes visual literacy essential – Ha! The teachers are right after all.

I have decided that if my sons see little benefit to reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and prefer to read five volumes of the Minecraft Combat Handbook, that is actually okay.

Picture from Amazon US

And having achieved this peace of mind, I even celebrated it with a cake!

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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85 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?””

  1. Great post, Robbie. You make some very valid points. I think it could be beneficial for many children to incorporate visual media into the reading curiculum, especially those who do better through visual learning.

    Another form of media with popularity on the rise is audio books, which so many of us are finding convenient for multi-tasking and getting our reading in while attending to other tasks which don’t require our full mental attention, such as while driving, or ironing, or gardening, etc…
    When I was a child, I had books on vinyl records which I listened to so often that I could recite many of the stories word for word. Many of these had a picture book as the album cover, so you could turn the pages as the story progressed to follow along. My favorite was “Bozo Under the Sea”, because the record gave you the sound of bubbles whenever it was time to turn the page. I visualize something similar with audio books, where children would have a physical book which they could follow along as they listened to an audio book, and I think this could be very helpful in teaching reading skills. You might do something like this with your “Sir Chocolate” books. What do you think?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Kaye, Audio books are lovely for children and adults. I bought a lot for Michael to listen to when he was a home sick as a young boy. I also listen to them when I walk or hang out washing. I really enjoy audio books. I had vinyl records to and my favourite was Sparky’s Magic Piano which also played a little tune to tell you to turn the page of the accompanying book. It is a nice idea for my Sir Choc books. I will look into it.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    I am over at Writing to be Read today with a post that looks at this question by children: “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?” Thanks for hosting me, Kaye Lynne Booth​.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great interview and topic. It is amazing how much these video games teach the kids, and they become resourceful. I guess it a fun way to learn. And they probably learn more than us in a short space if time. I certainly don’t know what your boys have learnt in their video games. My niece is playing with an interior design games, where she designs different rooms. It is quite lovely to see her creations and she is only 13. And it is true about work reports, emails etc, shirt and to the point.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. beetleypete says:

    Nice to see Robbie featured here. She is a great writer, and an excellent blogger too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. olganm says:

    A great article, Robbie. I agree, and it’s true that sometimes people don’t realise how much reading they do in everyday life, even when they are not reading a book as such. You point about presentations is quite right, although, of course, there are some professions that still rely heavily on written materials and words (I am thinking of the psychiatric reports I had to write for court, and the tonnes of paperwork involved in a lot of admin work, even if now it must be filled mostly online).
    It’s also true that a lot of people don’t do much writing, and content writing seems to be something a lot of people contract out rather than do it themselves, especially if they are looking for a professional result.
    Your approach of making reading relevant to the person (your sons in this case) is excellent, and schools are right to teach other kinds of literacy that are very relevant these days as well.
    Another very useful contribution. Thanks, Robbie.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Olga, thank you for your lovely and thoughtful comment. It pleases me greatly that you see the same need for reading and writing in life as I do and also the benefits of using technology to its best advantage in teaching our children. I am the person who usually gets ask to prepare the presentations and do the summarising of the huge document so I see this need particularly keenly.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You’re absolutely right that numbers crunchers need to be able to interpret and explain financial data in writing. I’m a case in point. Somebody gives me a spreadsheet, and my response is, what do you expect me to do with this? It’s just a bunch of numbers in little boxes. (Only expressed more politely, of course.)

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m with you, Liz. The numbers give me a headache in short time. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • Exactly, LIz. I learned how non-financial people view spreadsheets early on in my life. My sister needed to do a budget for the bank to get a home loan. She sent me her information on a spreadsheet and, my oh my, that was an interesting experience. I’d never seen someone mix up income and expenses before and group information for different years on alternative lines instead of in columns. Haha, I fixed it up for her and showed her how much easier it is to add things up and control figures if they are in columns and groups.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Darlene says:

    All valid points. Being able to read and write will always be essential no matter what line of work one does.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed your post, Robbie.

    I still have a vinyl copy of The Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan. Additionally I do not have the heart to give away the many spoken word cassettes I still own, ranging from Wuthering Heights through to Treasure Island.

    Today I am a member of Audible, and tend to listen to books on my Amazon Echo.

    Technology is, when properly used, a great boon to reading. However I do think that traditional (hard copy) books have the advantage of stimulating the imagination in ways that films or similar media never can. When reading a paper book you do not have the distraction of a flickering screen or the narrator of an audio book putting his or her interpretation upon the story. One has to use one’s own imagination. I still find that getting lost in a traditional book is, on the whole, more all engrossing than other means of accessing literature.

    A downside to technology is that it can reduce everything to bite sized bits of data. For example the 140 character limit on Twitter. I do use Twitter. However, on the whole I don’t think that much of a profound nature is said there. There are, of course exceptions to this rule. But, in my view they are exceptions.

    Best wishes. Kevin

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kevin, thank you for your lovely comment. I do agree with your comments about technology reducing imagination. It is something I plan to tackle next month on this series in a post about the pros and cons of kids reading on ipads and using all the bells and whistles available. There is definite proof that this reduces imagination and creativity.

      I also listen to a lot of audio books. I like to listen to poetry and classic books as audio books because the reader goes more slowly than I read to myself. I appreciate the beautiful language better when it is read to me more slowly. I also still have my vinyl records, but no tapes. I do have CDs though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are welcome for the comment, Robbie. I also still have CDS, which I am reluctant to give away. I subscribe to Amazon Music, which is great, however I am aware that one day even the great Leviathan of Amazon will disappear, or perhaps decide to jetison it’s music service or, indeed stop producing ebooks. This seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened. If a print publisher goes out of business one still has the hard copy books, but that is not necessarily the case with publishers of electronic books. I look forward to reading your post next month on the impact of technology on reading. Best wishes. Kevin

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s a good point about digital books, Kevin. I hadn’t given any thought about what happens if a digital publisher goes out of business. I suppose as an author, you would have to republish elsewhere, but what happens to the digital copies that have already been purchased? Hmmm……

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you, Kevin. I have some of these same worries about books and buy paperbacks too. I have over 3,000 books in my house.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Teri Polen says:

    I had similar conversations with my boys when they were younger, Robbie. But you’re right – video games today are far more sophisticated that when we were younger. I’ve watched and played with my sons and the level of storytelling with some of them is impressive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would like my boys to still read books, Teri, but they are teenagers and it is an endless battle. I have made peace with making Michael read for 15 minutes every evening and accept the benefits of a decent computer game. I monitor the games Michael plays. I don’t have to monitor Greg as he is a computer game snob [in the context of he said I was a literary snob and I am returning the compliment – wink!]

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Funny you should mention visual literacy, Robbie. I had to implement visual literacy in the general education program at my prior college. Knowing next to nothing about the standards, I found them on the site of the Association of College and Research Librarians: 6 pages in tiny font of the competencies college graduates need to be proficient in to succeed in a visual world!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is a normal part of the school curriculum now, Liz. My boys have been studying visual literacy for years and, as far as Michael goes, that means I get to study it with him. It is very interesting and I got so caught up in it, I gave my Sunday School kids cartoon analysis exercises for three weeks in a row. It is actually quite difficult to get good marks in visual literacy and it is used extensively by the history teachers too. Instead of learning dates, my boys have to learn to identify caricatures and line drawings of famous people, places and events.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan Antion says:

    Even when we send an email. we need someone to read it in order for it to be effective. Reading teaches us what is effective. We decide if something is interesting, boring, helpful or useless. Whether we want to admit it or not, this influences our writing. I wrote a lot in business, and I helped people who struggle with that task. My (totally unscientific) observations would indicate that the best writers were avid readers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Dan, thanks for visiting and adding your experiences. I am glad your experiences in the work place have been the same as mine. What you have said about readers being better writers does seem to be true. I can always tell if people read. Unfortunately, the younger generation seem to think that punctuation is not necessary in emails. But work emails are actually documents that form part of our working papers. I tell people to use proper grammar when they communicate with me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dan Antion says:

        Good luck fighting that battle. Our daughter is in marketing, and she has to review reports, blog posts, etc. She writes very well, but the reviews can be challenging.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I believe that text messaging has created this effect in young people, Robbie. They can all text on their phones, and their fingers move like greased lightening, but they abreviate everything and skip punctuation, so their text come out looking like some kind of secret code. My son is grown, but he talks in brief often mono-sylable responses in his speech, too. If ‘yes’ will suffice, he sees no need to elaborate. But I think this tendency carries over into emails and other correspondence.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Daniel Kemp says:

    Reading invites imagination whereas mediums that are visible destroys it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Norah says:

    You’ve made some very valid observations and shared them in this post which deserves celebrating with a cake. Good one, Robbie. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Another excellent post Robbie and it is interesting to see how video games and graphic novels do lead to other developmental skills… I cannot imagine coping with this modern world of online banking, shopping and other forms of electronic communication without being able to read. Thanks Kaye Lynne… and will share in the blogger daily on Sunday..hugsx

    Liked by 2 people

  14. marianbeaman says:

    Of course, children should read and they should read your delectable books, which look SO appetizing. I believe children will want to read if they have been read to. When my children were toddlers, every day they sat on my lap on the Storybook Chair. As adults, they both are readers. Sometimes, children go through stages of preferring video games, but they will return to books if they have had a habit of reading and are introduced to books that cater to their interests.

    Before I taught college English composition and literature, I was a reading teacher. I didn’t know about your books then; I’m sure they would have been irresistible to reluctant readers. Thanks Robbie and to Kaye Lynne for hosting you today! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always happy to feature a post from Robbie, Marian. Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Marian, thank you, I’m delighted you like my books. I think young children are always receptive to being read to by a caregiver. It is a lovely bonding exercise. As kids become tweens and teens they pull away from us and become more independent from us and dependent on peers. I am adapting to the changing influences and making the most of it. I still get Michael to read every day. This is a house rule.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Reading must be appealing or people won’t do it!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. As a teacher, I’ve followed that same path. It’s easy to push reading as ‘the solution’ but everyone doesn’t like reading. Some have problems with it. I’ve written endless articles on the gamification of education–games that teach–and they are pretty darn effective. I don’t have a decision or solution yet but I’m still open minded.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Jim Borden says:

    Wonderful post, Robbie. I agree that reading and writing are necessary skills, and that any form of reading or writing is beneficial. That being said, however, I think we do need to strongly encourage people to read the classics, in addition to video game instruction manuals. Otherwise, that rich history of literature won’t be passed on to future generations…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I personally do try to do this, Jim, and bought my boys the entire junior classics collection as well as junior Shakespeare. I read them every book. Some kids don’t have parents who read to them so don’t have this advantage. I think some reading is better than none in certain cases. I also try to appreciate and understand my sons perspectives on things like this.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jim Borden says:

        Our middle son couldn’t stand reading when he was in school. Now he is 35 years old and probably reads over 100 books a year, on a wide range of topics. My wife was a good role model; she is a prolific reader; I go in spurts…

        Liked by 2 people

        • That is fabulous, Jim. My older son was a huge reader. He still reads but not as much. He reads very heavy books and discusses them with me. Sometimes they make me a little depressed. Michael has always found reading difficult with his learning barrier. He is proficient now but is a slow reader. I have to encourage him to read every day.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Jim Borden says:

          Michael is lucky to have you encouraging him!

          Liked by 2 people

  18. bamauthor says:

    You made so many excellent points and explained things in a way they can easily understand.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Very wise to give in gracefully, Robbie. And so true that much of what we see on screens is still the written word.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. memadtwo says:

    This reminds me of the debates about the value of comic books when I was a child. Reading is reading. Whatever the source. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. CarolCooks2 says:

    A great insightful post, Robbie with many valid points…Some 10 years ago when my daughter was despairing at my grandson for his lack of interest in school and reading(unless) it was something he was interested in …he always had his nose in a manual..he now builds warships for Austal…the teacher said that’s ok…it is still reading she obviously was correct maybe a bit before her time…we have to be on the same wavelength and that wavelength keeps changing as we know but I believe if they have grown up being read to as children they do go back or at least read to their children…Have a great weekend x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Carol, that is great to hear. Some boys are not interested in reading fiction and just prefer non-fiction that teaches them something about an area of interest to them. I have accepted this although I do still try and encourage the reading of books by my boys. I hope your weekend is also good.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. […] Head over to read this interesting post in full: Robbie Cheadle – Expanded reading opportunities for the young including computer games. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “I have decided that if my sons see little benefit to reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and prefer to read five volumes of the Minecraft Combat Handbook, that is actually okay.”

    Perfectly stated, Robbie. It cracked me up, but so true! Thanks for the wonderful post and thanks for Kaye Lynne for hosting. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Diana, I am glad you enjoyed my strange sense of humour. People sometimes say I speak in riddles [smile]. Reading is reading and I’ve come around to that way of thinking. When I was younger people were quite rude to me about my reading material. They seemed to think I was subtly insulting them when I said I like to read classics and that I was a literary snob. I still like to read classics and read at least one a month but I read a lot of other books too, including the odd graphic novel and even cartoon.

      Liked by 2 people

      • When I was a kid, the reading curriculum in school completely turned me off to reading. Thank goodness I discovered the joy of books on my own. I think there would be more readers in the world if children were given the freedom to explore and find what appealed to them. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • Sound advice, Diana. I think we would probably have more well balanced adults if more people would just realize this.

          Like

        • I think you are right. School has certainly destroyed Michael’s love of poetry, but I hope it will come back one day.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Sadly, I don’t know many kids who enjoy poetry. 😦 Thank goodness for Shel Silverstein.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Here, here. My sons introduced me to Shell Silverstein. They loved his books, and they found them on their own at the library. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • That’s wonderful. He adds a lot of humor and tells stories with his poems. We need more poetry for children!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Yes. Part of the appeal of “Robbie’s Sir Chocolate” books is the verse, and her wonderful fondant illustrations, too). I see these younger people expressing a love for poetry through their music without even realizing that that is what they are doing, much like young people don’t think about all the things that use reading skills, as Robbie points out. Just as “reading is reading”, I think poetry is poetry is poetry in any form. Many songs are poetry set to music, particularly in the rap, hip-hop and punk genres, which are so popular among the younger generations. (Me? I’m an old Rock-N-Roll gal – Heart, Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Alice Cooper, Bad Company, Queen, Pink Floyd…. and of course, Elvis and The Beatles. Lot’s of poetic verse in there.)

          Liked by 2 people

        • I didn’t even think of music as today’s poetry for many kids.

          Liked by 2 people

        • If you don’t believe it look up the lyrics for bands like Green Day, R.E.M., The Pretty Reckless or even Bloodhound Gang, (but beware! The latter two are not music or verse for the faint of heart.)

          Liked by 2 people

        • How interesting to see your comment her that songs are poetry set to music. I have always said this too and I got a very funny look from one of the kids in my Sunday School class when I mentioned this. Kids think songs are cool and poetry is not.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for visiting and joining in on the discussion, Diana. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  24. dgkaye says:

    Great observations and post Robbie. I loved how you broke it down, the importance of reading and writing leads to everything else. And I love that your boys play video games that are educational too. 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Carla says:

    Great post Robbie. You are right on with all these observations. I love that my grandson plays games where he has to be able to read things to continue. And yes, the skills they learn in these games are wonderful, very different from Pacman and pinball that I played when I was younger.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am glad to hear you say this is the case for your grandson. There are lots of value adding and instructive computer games out there. It is up to the parents to monitor what games their children play, in the same way we have to monitor what they see on the internet and watch on TV.

      Liked by 1 person


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