The kids are alright (and reading)!

We were pleased to see Vook’s editorial consultant Sara Nelson quoted in a USA Today article on young adult readers and book culture yesterday – and we couldn’t agree more with her point: kids are reading, they’re just not reading in a way we’re accustomed to seeing. I’ve been hearing this point from a lot of different experts in the educational and publishing world. Last year, I briefly worked with Alan Sitomer, a Teacher of the Year and published author, who’s trying to develop a new curriculum (called Book Jam) for schools to get kids reading. Allen is religious about his belief that kids are reading more than ever: on their laptops, cell phones, even video game consoles. Sure, maybe they’re not reading big books, but they’re still learning to construct sentences and process information through the written word. He’s convinced that if you present the books to kids in the right medium and let kids read what they want to read—you’ll find they can get just as sucked up in a text as they can in the Wii.

I’m personally convinced of this too – I grew up at the same pace as video games. From early text adventures to the graphical adventures from Sierra to the frenetic first person shooters of today. I still try to keep up with video games, but I often find they’ve moved too far from their origins in a rich story telling environment. Very few video games of this century can match the thematic and story telling complexity of a show such as Lost or a book like Cloud Atlas. I know there are exceptions – and I make sure to play them – but games are missing a vital element that someone like me, a rabid digital consumer, still can only find in books and a few exceptional television shows. I’ve been going back recently to the early text adventures I used to play (Zork’s even online!), looking for inspiration for Vook. There must be potential for a more interactive book experience that Vook could facilitate that would still keep the author in control. A surrealist take on Choose Your Own Adventure? Don Quixote meets the Sierra model? Once authors see what we’re doing with Vook and think about the potential – they could start producing stories that could finally realize the epic cross referencing, hyper textuality (and awesome story telling) that House of Leaves so promisingly hinted at.

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