harrygameWhen libraries began to add vinyl records to their collections, people complained.

They complained again when libraries added cassette tapes. Then again when we added VHS movies. They continued to complain about CDs, DVDs, and anything else that they felt wasn’t related to reading.

Now, they complain about video games because certainly video games have nothing to do with reading. For that, I have a personal counterexample.

Last night, my five year old son returned home after spending part of the summer with his grandparents. He told us that he really wanted to learn how to read better because the Harry Potter video game he played at grandma and grandpa’s had a lot of words in it that he didn’t know and he wanted to read what was on the screen. Also, he’d like us to read the Harry Potter books to him.

He’d seen the movies before and liked them, but he didn’t ask about reading at all until he played the video game. From this I learn a couple things. One, my baby boy is growing up and that sucks because we had an agreement that he’d remain small and cute forever.

HarryPotterSorcerersStoneBookThe second thing? Well, when I play video games with dialogue, I usually turn off the subtitles. Heck I can hear what they’re saying, I don’t need the subtitles. It never dawned on me that, while I might not get anything from the subtitles, my kiddo might. He watches me play video games quite often which makes sense because I play video games quite often. Now he can follow along with the characters speaking on screen while he learns to read the words underneath.

Point is, video games helped foster an interest in reading in my boy and my boy can’t be unique in that situation. I’d say at least 75% of today’s video games are story line driven and involve on-screen dialogue and commentary. Of those, I think all of them offer subtitles. A story is a story and it doesn’t matter if someone reads it from a screen or not, especially if that story on screen creates an interest in a book.