Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”Posted: March 10, 2021
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.
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.
And having achieved this peace of mind, I even celebrated it with a cake!
About Robbie Cheadle
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)
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)
Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate
Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
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
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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