Today I am linking up with Reading Toward the Stars for Book Talk Thursday! As an end of the year gift, I purchased My Life as a Gamer by Janet Tashjian for my son who just finished third grade. As many other kids his age, he is extremely interested in video games, but he also loves to read. When I ran across this book while browsing on Amazon, I knew it would be the perfect book for him!
Twelve year old Derek is obsessed with playing video games and is thrilled when he gets the chance of a lifetime to be part of a focus group to try out a brand new video game! With his friends, he attends the focus group each Saturday and along the way he learns much more about himself not only as a gamer, but also as student and as a person.
Why I Liked It
On the surface, the book has an interesting plot, mainly because the characters are believable, as well as an easy to read format. The main characters play and discuss video games, and some of the action takes place at school where Derek struggles with learning, especially reading. Plus, the reader will be able to relate to some of Derek's thoughts and conflicts at home as well as with his friends. As the story goes on, we learn that the B I G state tests are approaching which causes Derek's circle of friends to worry as much as their teacher does. Derek's parents hire a tutor to help him prepare for the tests, but he finds the sessions boring and frustrating. In an unexpected twist, Derek's learns his own best way to learn from playing video games and is able to apply that to his test prep and to school in general.
In addition to theme that everyone learns differently, there are smaller themes in the book such as keeping one's word, the disadvantage of bragging, and how one can overcome an obstacle with a little creativity and thinking "outside the box". As a teacher, I especially liked the doodles in the margin of the book that Derek draws to help visualize the meanings of new words. Except for the ending of the book where Derek gets a kiss from a girl in his circle of friends, kids are sure to enjoy reading the book!
There are four other books in this series that I plan to read next!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?