Welcome to a very special post featuring a guest article from middle grade and YA author- and literacy advocate- Danica Davidson! You may have kids or teens who have read one of Danica’s sixteen middle grade and young adult novels, including the twelve popular Minecrafter books. In the summer of 2018, Danica was invited to Belgium to present a talk to the members of the European Union and their children about the power that books and games have in nurturing imagination and strengthening critical thinking skills, fostering talk about online culture, and encouraging lifelong reading. Please welcome Danica and enjoy!
About Danica Davidson:
Danica Davidson is the author of YA and children’s novels and graphic novels. She has the Minecrafter novels Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down Into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine, Battle with the Wither, Adventure Against the Endermen, Mysteries of the Overworld, Danger in the Jungle Temple, Clash in the Underwater World, Last of the Ender Crystal, and Return of the Ender Dragon; the how-to-draw manga books Manga Art For Beginners and Manga Art for Intermediates; the comic book Barbie Puppies: Puppy Party; and “Picture Perfect” in the graphic novel Tales from the Crypt. Her books have been called “EXCITING” by Forbes, “RECOMMENDED READING” by School Library Journal, and have been spotlighted by NPR, Sci Fi Magazine, Barnes & Noble Kids Blog, MTV and other publications.
Please check out her site at www.danicadavidson.com.
Guest Post :
These days virtually everyone knows the video game Minecraft, but do you know there are also novels related to Minecraft? I write chapter books aimed for ages 7-12 that take place as if Minecraft is real. They star 11-year-old Stevie, a boy from the video game world who accidentally finds a portal to Earth. So far there are twelve books out (Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down Into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine, Battle with the Wither, Adventure Against the Endermen, Mysteries of the Overworld, Danger in the Jungle Temple, Clash in the Underwater World, The Last of the Ender Crystal, and Return of the Ender Dragon). While the main point of the books is to entertain (and I put in plenty of action/adventure and chapter cliffhangers as Stevie and his Earth friends battle monsters and save worlds), I wanted to include some deeper issues in the books, too. Because of this, last summer I was flown to Belgium to give a talk about my books before members of the European Union and their kids.
In a twenty minute speech (followed by ten minutes of questions) I talked about how both the game Minecraft and my Minecrafter books can be used to foster kids’ imagination and critical thinking. If you’ve seen kids play Minecraft, you’ve probably seen some of the amazing things they build. All this starts in their imagination and then comes to life through their thought process and work. My books can encourage gamers to start reading (and, hopefully, continue reading this and more), but they’re also written so that you don’t have to be a Minecraft fan to read.
In the midst of all the action, my books also talk about real issues that kids – the fears of going to a new school, of making friends, of dealing with bullies. As the books continue in the series, they get more into what the online world is like, and how it can be used for both helping and harming. Stevie, who’s never seen the Internet before going to Earth, sees it as being a double-edged sword. It can be a way to find information and be in contact with friends, or it can be a way to harass people or spread misinformation. It’s all how we use it. In my book The Last of the Ender Crystal, some of Stevie’s Earth friends remark:
“I think we just need to watch and learn,” Maison said. “My mom always said you can’t jump to conclusions and you have to learn all about something before you have an opinion on it.”
Yancy snorted. “Not in the days of the Internet. The more knee-jerk your reaction, the more the Internet seems to reward you for it.”
It’s just a few sentences, but I hope it helps readers know the importance of thinking for themselves, fact-checking and not joining Internet mobs that are out to do more harm than good. My readers are either just getting started on the Internet or about to, and parents from the European Union talked to me after my speech about how they worry about their kids online. They thought my books could be a good way to discuss the topic with kids without it being boring or preachy (two things it’s very important to me to avoid, because I automatically want to tune out anything boring or preachy, even if I agree with it).
I want these books to entertain, inspire and empower. I’m thrilled when I hear from kids and parents who are touched or excited by what happens in the books. It was an honor to be able to share my message in Belgium, and I hope these books can bring the joy of reading, the excitement of adventure, and the comfort of knowing you are not alone, no matter what you’re dealing with.