Today's "but are the kids reading" article is from the New York Times, part of its The Future of Reading series. Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers examines how publishers, authors and libraries are using video games to get people reading. Easy example: PJ Haarsma designed a video game to tie in with his book. (Those of you who attended the 07 Kidlitosphere Conference may remember meeting PJ.) Jack Martin from NYPL is quoted: “I think we have to ask ourselves, ‘What exactly is reading?’ Reading is no longer just in the traditional sense of reading words in English or another language on a paper.”
A reading professor is quoted in the article; and I wonder at what he said that didn't get in the article. Because what he says seems incomplete: "So rather than say, ‘Oh, books are irrelevant in the modern era because there are all these other media available,’ I would ask shouldn’t we be doing a better job of teaching kids how to read?”
My knee-jerk response to this is that it's not about teaching kids HOW to read; it's teaching kids to love reading. Oh, some kids are born loving reading; but for other kids, it is all about the right book at the right time, which may occur at age 5, 15, or 30. Are people encouraging that reading is to be loved? Or is it viewed as another lesson, another chore? Of course, this professor may have gone on to say that. Or his definition of "how to read" may include reading because you want to, not because you can and you have to.
In viewing the literacy skills and interactions with text we see with games and books, I point once again to Cathy's Book. My prediction: game tie ins with books, or book tie ins with games, isn't the future. The future is authors raised with gaming as a part of their regular lives writing books like Cathy's Book, bringing that interactive, reader controls the story attitude towards traditional books, with electronic publishing providing a reading experience that is different from anything we've seen today.