On the Net: Books, games, Internet together

February 11, 2009 8:48:31 PM PST
It's no secret that students these days are probably spending more time online than in the bookstore. But you know what they say, if you can't "beat them, join them." That's exactly the mantra some publishing companies have adopted.Sixth grade students at Forrest Elementary in North Philadelphia are fully engrossed in this online game, but they know to advance, they'll need to stop clicking and start flipping pages.

Sixth grader Delvis Kaliqui told Action News, "When you are on the Internet, it teaches you a little bit about it, but it doesn't ruin the entire book."

The book is called 39 Clues. Scholastic is hoping it will be the next Harry Potter bookshelf blockbuster. But this 10 book series has a twist. Each novel, written by a different author, will have web-related games, prizes and clues to supplement the mystery novels.

Library assistant Brenda Meskill says it has even the most reluctant readers hooked.

Sixth grader, Armela Vruzhaj said "It's a really good book, it's a mystery you can go online and it makes you want to keep reading it and never stop."

The novels tell different stories of the most powerful family in the world, the Cahills. The readers are given 39 clues both online and in the books to the secret behind the family's power. There are also history lessons in the book. Real historical figures like Ben Franklin and Mozart are rumored to be a part of the Cahill family.

Dana Cummings from Scholastic said, "To really participate in this you have to read the book, so if they really want to find the 39 clues, they have to read the book."

Other publishing companies are using video games to entice readers as well. David Mitchell of Temple University believes the publishing industry is in a crisis as the population increasingly uses the Internet for it's reading material.

Mitchell told Action News, "The relationship of the development of Internet and video games to books is a way of trying to revive the currency of books themselves."

But Mitchell warns although this integration may cultivate a child's interest in reading, it can stifle a child's creativity.

Mitchell said, "It used to be when we read materials we often took those materials and we acted them out in our play lives and video games are substituting that translation to imaginative life that children actively engage in."

On a positive note, Mitchell added that videogames alone are finite, so once you achieve the goal or the end of the game you're done. However these games are supplemented by books, which feed the imagination because most novels contain some irresolvable human problems that may cause you to think about the book after you're done, which of course is good for the brain.

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