Today's New York Times article titles "The Future of Reading: Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers" focuses on the not-so-recent trends towards trying to use video games and various other forms of technology to interest children in reading.
We have observed a number of children under nine using hand held games such as Nintendo DS, console games, online, or PC based games. For children who are already five or six years old and have no particular proficiency in reading, these games do seem to encourage reading to 1) follow instructions on the screen, 2) read gaming tips and other online forums, 3) blogging give and take with other players including posting of tips and discussions.
The article discusses similar observations, provides excellent quotes from a range of educators, librarians, children, and parents, and has some useful details on books and other new publications that exploit this genre. Definitely worth reading the article!
Regarding games and language development with an eye towards reading ability, the downside seems to be that the fast and exciting pace of games makes it hard for children to develop a spark of interest in reading books if they do not already read fast or well enough to really enjoy the story.
Our solution is to introduce reading using the Montessori approach with Sandpaper Letters, Movable Alphabet sets, and so forth when children are two to three years old, creating an interest and a capability in reading before the topic of games comes up. As always, our curriculum guide information is a useful place to start!
It would be interesting to hear what your experience has been with your own students and children. Send in your comments to share with everyone!
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