Tuesday, October 2, 2007

YOU and the Secret Knowledge

819849_gossipI hope that you realize just how important you and what you are doing is.  Kids are the future of our world, an obvious statement but never more true.  You are their guide, and you are the transmitter of the Secret Knowledge.
What? you might ask is the Secret Knowledge?  It is everything that we have learned on this planet: how to make fire, what herbs to eat and what plants are poisonous, how to hunt, and how to plant, and how to speak and write, and count.  How to develop a system of laws, how to write poetry, and create an algorithm; how to promote health, and how to take care of our planet.
This Secret Knowledge is what you pass on to kids every day that you are in the classroom or at home and with every idea that you share with them. You are both custodians and advance guards of the Secret Knowledge.
614682_90998327_2 As a kids’ author I am careful never to write down to kids them. I make some of the tools for you to help them develop one of the most powerful of all skills: reading and comprehension.   I say one advisedly: the others of course are writing and arithmetic.  These are the fabled Three R’s.  Without them civilization would retreat into a dark and even more confused time.
So, how and where? you ask, does CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE® play a role in this offering of the Secret Knowledge?
These books constitute a stealth reading development program utilizing the power of game theory where role-playing and decision making combine to active involvement and participation.
Kids read these CHOOSE books because THEY are the hero of the story, the pilot in command, the surgeon at the operating table, the famous mountain climber, detective, scientist. They count!  Their individual choices lead to different endings--- as many as 120 permutations in each book.   Imagination is unleashed, ego becomes involved, participation is unavoidable.
TheendWhen you ask your class how many have read the book ( a CHOOSE book) you will be amazed at how many hands shoot up.  Remember, a kid can get to THE END in just 8 or 10 pages.  Then ask WHY YOU made a certain decision. For example in ESCAPE, a book about the conflict between fascist forces and rebels fighting for democracy YOU the reader are the leader of a team deep in enemy territory.  Here is an excerpt:
At that very moment there is a knock at the door—a loud knock! Mimla raises a finger to her lips. Haven cringes in the corner. Everyone looks at YOU.
         If you tell them to run for it through the back door of the house, turn to page 40.
         If you tell them to prepare to defend themselves, turn to page 29.
Now the discussion begins.  These are real issues, real decisions, but without the risks of the real world.  This is role-playing ; this is game theory at work ; this is simulation.  It is values clarification.  It is gut wrenching humanness at.  It is not movies , nor TV, nor computer games. It is people  -- kids and teachers - reaching out and testing and trying and thinking and deciding.  CHOOSE books are an active experience.
768110_library On top of all this most books have substantive information about the world. It is limited, allowing adventure to drive the story, but it can stimulate kids to follow up on the subjects.  MYSTERY OF THE MAYA  talks about the rapid and mysterious decline of the once-brilliant Mayan civilization.  THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN give a glimpse into the worlds highest mountains and their glaciers as well as the Buddhist culture of Nepal.  The MYSTERY of URA SENKE (renamed CUP OF DEATH) puts a spotlight on a culture where a tea ceremony is very important. TROUBLE ON PLANET EARTH deals with the limits of fossil fuel.  Driven by adventure, these CHOOSE books are also full of information.
Kids in grades 4-7 are the perfect age for these adventures.  These kids are on the threshold of adolescence, and they are anxious to be treated as adults.   CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE does just that.
So, enjoy the books.  The kids will.  Don’t forget YOU are the keepers of the Secret Knowledge.
R. A Montgomery aka Ray

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