Choosing a different type of book to read to the class – Fighting Fantasy

tumblr_m6wkl0ENgu1rqszvno1_400Every day we spend at least 10 minutes where I read to the class and they listen and respond with questions.  We build up a understanding of the characters, discuss what makes a book good to read aloud and how the authors describe through showing what is happening in detail rather than telling. Normally it is a novel, occasionally a book of poetry and if we find a great picture book author we might spend a day or 2 reading through a stack of their books investigating how the art moves the story along and tells what words do not need to.

I have a list of books that I know I would captivate any class – The Tale of Despereaux, A Series of Unfortunate Events, anything by Roald Dahl, The Iron Giant, Kensuke’s Kingdom and the list goes on.  Additionally I have a list of some of my most beloved books that just do not sound good being read aloud to a class and have not gotten past chapter three before I say “…and if you are loving this book it is at the library.”

Ok, I’m usually blogging about IT integration in the classroom and I still do.  When we read are reading a book we will have the Interactive Whiteboard open and use…Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 8.30.06 AM

  • dictionary.com – Discovering the meaning of the word suppurating was fantastic.
  • Google Earth – Tracking the trip around the world in Kensuke’s Kingdom.
  • YouTube to compare books to their movie trailers

To the real point of this posting. I found in the back of a cupboard the other day my copy of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain – A Fighting Fantasy Gamebook. Now at age 9 this book captivated me as it is a cross between a board game, puzzle and just a great story.  So I brought my dusty, crusty old copy that was given to my brother fresh from publication in 1982 then secretly stolen from his shelf . The game record page had been worn thin from pencil scratchings and eraser marks.

I simplified the fighting rules and presented it to the class on Monday morning – eyes were rolled, groans echoed around the room and one even said 4677291212_24c0acc623‘Really Mr Dyer, rolling a dice when you read a book sounds a bit dumb’. So I read, the noises stopped and the ears pricked as the language unfolded. The first argument began as we were asked to turn East or West at a junction in the passage  and decided by voting visually by standing either in the East or West side of the class.

Next they chose to enter into a room were faced with 2 goblins and the first battle began. We dispatched one instantly, then we took a hit and then the second goblin was slain – the class actually cheered and the teacher from the room next door had to pop in her head to check we were ok. We pillaged the room and found a key marked 99 that was recorded on the Adventure sheet that was up on the IWB.

After a week we have taken hits, freed a crazed madmen gave us a clue that saved us from certain death. Choosing to try and steal a gem resulted in the statue to come alive attack us and we only just left the room with one health point left after the battle with the Iron Cyclops. We have an inventory list of items that we are yet to use and every time we come to a door the class hope it asks for key 99.

It may sound silly to some, but to me, the geek who was raised on D&D, Warhammer and similar games, it is normal and just too much fun. I was not expecting it to work, but hoping that it would provide a type of book that might appeal to some of my reluctant boy readers. The reality is that I have found a text that the whole class is engrossed in. Looking on TradeMe (NZ version of EBay) you can pick Fighting Fantasy or Pick a Path books up for $1 each and even if they just sit on the shelf of your classroom library for the kids to read individually you are providing a new genre for your students.  I know they will be a hit with the class, so give it a go.

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7 thoughts on “Choosing a different type of book to read to the class – Fighting Fantasy

  1. Pascal

    What a great idea. If we keep doing the same thing, we will keep getting the same results. Reluctant readers don’t like reading because they haven’t found a book that captivates them and takes them on a journey yet. It is our responsibility to provide books/options for them to experience the journey a good book can take us on.
    You may just have created a new generation of readers, by simply sharing a book that you loved at their age.

  2. Awesome idea, Luke – will definitely give this one a go. I loved Pick-a-Path when I was a kid – in fact I remember the first book club book that I bought with my own pocket money was Rim-the-Robot, a Pick-a-Path.

  3. A fantastic idea. Interactive Fiction or Text Adventures can have a very positive effect on literacy (with mathematics, collaboration, logic, etc) in the classroom.

    Why not run sessions where the pupils create their own interactive fiction books or text adventures?

    Take at look at Inkle Writer from Inkle Studios – a free tool that is browser based so will run on all kinds of platforms:

    http://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter

    Inkle are also responsible for the recent (and brilliant) conversion of Frankenstein and Steve Jackson’s Sorcery gamebooks to iOS:

    http://www.inklestudios.com/sorcery

    Alex Warren is behind another free tool for classrooms called Quest:

    http://textadventures.co.uk/
    http://textadventures.co.uk/education

    This is more a traditional text adventure builder (GO WEST, etc) but can add further puzzle and other logic elements for children to work through.

    I was lucky enough to direct the Games Britannia (www.gamesbritannia.com) festival last year where Alex ran his workshop:

    http://blog.textadventures.co.uk/2012/07/04/quest-at-games-britannia/

    And the brilliant Ian Livingstone and Jon Ingold (Inkle) delivered a Fighting Fantasy workshop:

    Ian Livingstone and Jon Ingold

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