The “Book Cover Challenge” is a challenge that has been going around Twitter in 2019. It basically is a week long process where you post the cover of a book that you have enjoyed without a review for seven days while nominating someone else to do the challenge each time that you post. I was nominated by another educator in Manitoba and participated.
As I like to try to add my own spin on things, I decided that my posts would reflect the multi-faceted view of literacy and education that I hold while tying into my professional, academic, and personal lives. I am using this post to break down and give a bit of detail on my book choices in a way that just would not work on Twitter.
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee (2007)
This is just a phenomenal read. I first came across this in 2016 taking my first graduate course ETAD 802, where I was embarking on a lengthy research paper focusing on video games in education. The educational value and learning potential of video games has been something I have felt strongly about, but I didn’t really have what I thought was a valid basis until I discovered Gee’s work. This is a must read for anyone who shares this belief.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
So I was late to the party on Harry Potter. Graduating high school in 2002, there were kids reading Harry Potter, but I feel like I just missed it as my wife is a couple of years younger than me and was a huge fan as a teenager. I have seen the movies, but never really thought about picking up the books until around November 2018. It’s now March 2019 and I am just finishing the fifth book. The first novel is interesting as it does a great job of setting up this fantasy world. It is immersive, energetic, funny, and has something for all ages. I wonder if there was an intent by Rowling to explore more stand alone stories that were possibly abandoned for the Voldemort narrative? I found in the first book mentioned a variety of monsters and elements that have not been explored within the books that I have read.
Superman: Red Son written by Mark Millar (2003)
Graphic novels and comic books have been a huge part of my life. I have been into them since I was a child. I feel that there is immense value and depth in them that often we don’t see when we are young. Early in my post-secondary studies at the University of Winnipeg, I started seeking out more intellectually mature graphic novels that challenged my ideas of what a comic book is while portraying these iconic heroes in new ways that prompted you to challenge your thinking. Within Superman: Red Son, there are some fascinating themes regarding the differences and similarities between Communism and Capitalism, along with some really interesting variations on famous comic book characters.
Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community by Alfie Kohn (2006)
In 2007 I came across Kohn in one of my undergrad education courses. I found his ideas refreshing especially compared to the conditioning and training approach found in some other classroom management texts. I think that at the heart of Kohn’s work is the idea that as a teacher you need to remember that your students are people and need to be treated in a way that shows compassion and understanding while you develop a community of learners in a classroom.
The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond…the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world by Steven Kent (2001)
This is a really fun and informational book about a topic that I find interesting. It’s surprising how much video games are tied to the history of the twenty-first century.
Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning through Modern Board Games by Bryan Mayer and Christopher Harris (2010)
I only came across this text recently, but it really tied into my current interest in game-based learning and board games. Mayer and Harris explore the integration of modern designer/strategic games into educational settings. They have some great ideas that should be explored further by teachers, instructional designers, and game-based learning researchers. If you are a teacher and you are interested in modern board games, this is a must read.
Time for Bed by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer (1997)
This may be the first book that I ever read to my son. He has it memorized and can recite it. He would frequently ask questions about the vocabulary like “Daddy, what’s a foal?”. As he has gotten older, he doesn’t really like if I choose it as a bedtime story as he is now after something more complex. Anyways, I chose this book as I feel that it is important to read to your kids as much as you can. It is such as valuable and integral activity for childhood development that you should try to make time for it every day.
Gloomhaven by Isaac Childres (2017)
I wanted to break away from traditional texts (yes that includes graphic novels) and feature a board game. I believe that board games also represent a type of literacy as they not only require reading, but mental process, strategy development, communication, and more. Gloomhaven is a game that I first came across in 2017 when I became aware of the Kickstarter campaign. I did not purchase the game then, but in 2018 I tried to get my hands on a copy. It was not until January 2019 that I actually got one.
Gloomhaven is a tactical combat based role-playing board game where you work cooperatively with other players to complete difference scenarios. You have a hand of cards that feature different abilities that you play each turn. It is a campaign game that features a narrative (each scenario has different sections that are read to the playing group). Depending on your groups choices, you essentially choose your own adventure. Each player has a character that they play and develop over several play sessions. It is a complex game that requires players to think strategically, work together, and manage resources. It is incredibly fun and engaging. A simple Google search will yield a plethora of information if you are interested.