My boy loves his Skylanders.
So much so that if given the chance, his recipe for a life of pure happiness would be:
Skylanders + soccer + more Skylanders + Minecraft = bliss
For a teacher-mom who is interested in supporting her kids’ learning, you better believe that I’m doing what I can to capitalize on Owen’s loves and funnel this into some high-interest reading. Yeah. I’m bad like that.
Getting kids to read–boys especially–isn’t easy. So parents really have to jump on any opportunity available, finding some little niche of high interest and running with it.
Owen is a reader; he enjoys reading, but he likes playing his games even more. I’m grateful that many nights we’ll read Magic Treehouse books or his Sports Illustrated for Kids together before bed. But these Skylanders books?
He devours them.
Eats them for dinner.
Reads and re-reads them, and I love it.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- High-Interest Reading–The Skylanders Book Series: First of all, Skylanders is a type of video game that combines an on-screen game and action figures. The game comes with a portal, and by placing an action figure on the portal, you invite him (or her) into the game.
There are like a few dozen action figures that you can invite into the game, so kids love collecting them, comparing them, learning about them, and loving them.
Owen’s Skylanders action figures surround a sleeping Brady.
Sound crazy? It is.
I’ll share why I actually dig Skylanders as a video game for kids in a bit. But onto the books.
The books, in Owen’s own words, are awesome because ‘It tells you all about their lives and gives them personalities. I like that there are some pictures mixed up in the pages. And the books tell you all about Skylanders in the past, present, and the future.’
The first Skylanders book Owen read: Spyro Versus the Mega Monster
I get that.
The fab part of the books is that they’re allowing Owen to make connections between the game he loves to play and what he’s reading on the page. And in order to become a strong, interested reader, we need to be able to connect with what we read.
We have only two hardcopies of the books,
- The Mask of Power: Spyro Versus the Mega Monster, by Cavan Scott (book 1)
- The Machine of Doom, by Cavan Scott (book 4)
but we have two on our Kindle:
- Gil Grunt and the Curse of the Fish Master, by Cavan Scott (book 2)
- Skylanders Book of Elements: Magic & Tech, by Sunbird
We still need:
- The Mask of Power: Lightening Rod Faces the Cyclops Queen, by Cavan Scott (book 3)
- Skylanders Book of Elements: Fire & Water, by Barry Hutchison
And the second: The Machine of Doom
The books are written for readers aged 8 and up, so especially earlier readers will need support. However, it’s important to note that the game itself is for players 10 and up. It requires strategy and critical thinking and tends to be a little violent.
What I like about the books is that there are illustrations throughout the text that support the plot, so readers can lean on them if need be.
I, as a non-Skylanders fan, really needed Owen to translate for me as we read; the books are clearly written for lovers of the Skylanders game. I needed a glossary for the Skylanders jargon: Chompies, Portal Master, Eon, Mabu, Drow, Nort, Skylands, and more.
Checking out the digital version of Gil Grunt and the Curse of the Fish Master
And it’s worth noting that though I was occasionally impressed with the higher-level of diction (word choice) in the texts, you’ll find the occasional ‘stupid’, ‘imbecile’, ‘losers’ mixed with some belching, drooling, and slobbering. All the kind of stuff that makes my boy laugh hard.
Though I don’t at all approve of this kind of language, during read-alouds, we talk about how we don’t use these words when interacting with others.
Checking out the Magic & Tech book
Are the stories and plots classic material? Ahh, no.
Are we talking award-winning, rockstar content? Um, not really.
Know that I’m saying that in the kindest way possible. I was a high school English teacher. I taught the classics.
But what we are talking about is high-interest topics and texts that will get our kids reading. And that, for me, is a big win.
Stepping stone books. Gateway books. Books that will get kids into reading.
And I personally love the mix of hard copies and digital versions; that way, if we have the iPad or our phones but not the book, then Owen can pick up where he left off while we wait for Maddy at gymnastics. It’s not always the iPad for a game. The books is there, and it’s available, and he likes it.
So really? Worth sharing, I thought, because I am glad to have found a high-interest text–or series–that Owen loves and that he can connect to something he enjoys.
We’ve been giving these two books as birthday gifts for his buddies, and I think their parents appreciate it.
Do you have some high-interest reading worth sharing? Texts that kids can connect with and want to read? Please share!
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