Story Time
November 26, 2008 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Books for a Young Gamer: My (American) nephew is eight years old, and I want to buy him a book/some books for Christmas. He's *really* into gaming, but I would to find a book which will entice him away from the machine.

He doesn't like reading, but he's a very bright kid. I need sure-fire suggestions, even graphic novels. ANYTHING that will get his eyes on some paper. My original thought was The Dangerous Book for Boys, but I don't know if it's going to grab his attention enough. I havent' seen him in over a year, so I don't know what his reading level is like. About average for his age, I guess. Help!
posted by chuckdarwin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What kind of games does he like? Action? Puzzles? Sports? RPGs? What specific titles?
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2008

Do you know what kind of games he enjoys? If you can find similar subject matters, the books may entice him more. However, these days kids will never let go of the "machine" once they discover how fun it is. Previous generations might have had more success, but it's extremely difficult to convince a child that paper is better than an interactive screen. Don't try that route.
posted by Bakuun at 9:35 AM on November 26, 2008

Hmm well I remember when I was younger really enjoying the "Death of Superman" Anthology comic book, easy to read. You could also try "The Watchmen" though it might be a bit too adult for him. Im only 23 but I recall reading "Goosebumps" all the time, though their not around anymore. Im sure if you go down to B&N and consult them they may have some good tips.

My younger brother is really into WoW and he's 16. He used to read this japanese comic called "Shonen Jump" when he was around 12-13. You could try that.
posted by Groovytimes at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2008

I'm pretty sure Watchmen would require some pretty serious parental vetting first, in the case of an eight-year-old. (I got away with some fascinating comics as a kid, but that's because I bought them myself and smuggled them into the house.)

Runemaster Studios has two graphic novels out in their Lions, Tigers, and Bears series that might be good choices.

What's he watching for TV shows? You can usually get kids' books about any number of licensed properties, which will get him reading even if they're mostly giant toy ads. The animated Hellboy movies have pocket-sized graphic novel counterparts that are a little less scary and probably appropriate for his age. He may be watching stuff like Naruto on Cartoon Network, which gives you an easy out-- there's a jillion Naruto manga at your local Borders or B&N, ditto Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and the like.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2008

He may enjoy the first book in the 39 Clues series (or the second one, which is out next week). It's an adventure story which is tied into trading cards and an online game, with a prize. I first heard of it on this thread on the Blue.

I was a bit concerned that it was too cynically commercial, but an eight year old and his younger brother who regularly come into my shop picked up a copy, and their mum told me they had all enjoyed it enormously (and they haven't felt the need to look at the website, if that's a concern).
posted by featherboa at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2008

My little brother absolutely loved the Alex Rider books, by Anthony Horowitz. They're about a sort of teenage James Bond type, and are action packed and good fun. I tried one once out of curiosity, and read it in about thirty minutes flat (although I've a very quick reader) but I admit I quite enjoyed it.

He also loved the Lemony Snicket books when he was about your nephew's age. They're quite tongue-in-cheek, and have been made into a series of films.

Nowadays (he's 11) he loves a series of books by Darren Shan, which I think are about vampires. He always seems to have another one in his hands, and looks forward to release date of the next one with rabid enthusiasm.

If you find that helpful, I can easily ask him for more recommendations. He's a little older than your nephew, but you said he's a bright kid, and a lot of kids read above their 'reading level' anyway.
posted by badmoonrising at 10:08 AM on November 26, 2008

He mainly plays action games.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2008

Harry Potter? Lemony Snicket?
posted by mattbucher at 10:13 AM on November 26, 2008

What about something like Dragonology?

There are a whole bunch of books in the series, and they're perfect to pore over and explore. There are also some (simple) video games associated with them online, which could be an in.
posted by cider at 10:17 AM on November 26, 2008

My nephew is also eight, and a pretty involved gamer.

When he stayed with me this summer, I got him into Choose Your Own Adventure books, which they just re-released.

They have a younger versions which my nephew liked, and the older versions, which were the ones I read as a kid. So depending on his reading skills, these might be fun ones, and they feel like a game too because you have to make choices that affect the outcome.
posted by ugf at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2008

Hmmmm, second link didn't work, here's an example of the older versions.
posted by ugf at 11:02 AM on November 26, 2008

Cheers! You guys are great. I am now thinking about How To Train Your Dragon.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:07 AM on November 26, 2008

You may be fighting windmills here. If he admittedly doesn't like reading will he even pick a book up long enough to see the subject matter does interest him? Don't fall into the trap of buyung someone a gift because you think they SHOULD like it instead of because you think they WILL.

If you want to see him read on a regular basis get him a subscription to a game magazine for his platform of choice- there are ones for xbox, sony, pc games, and nintendo. Go with something he's sure to actually look at, and once he discovers reading isn't so bad, you can branch out.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:07 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

How about a game that enforces reading? If he has a Nintendo DS you could get him one of the Phoenix Wright games (although they are a continuous series, so start with the first one). There's some fairly tame murder stuff that might not be appropriate for an immature 8 year old, but other 8 year olds would eat it up. The games are pretty much nothing but reading and logical reasoning, which I assume is your intent. Or are you just trying to get him away from those damn videogames kids today love so damn much?
posted by yellowbinder at 11:27 AM on November 26, 2008

I can't believe no one has mentioned it yet, I can't think of a better book than Ender's Game. Speaking as a gamer myself, this was my favourite book when I was young. How can you go wrong when it is essentially about children saving the world through video games?

It grabs the reader's interest very quickly, which is important for someone who doesn't normally read a ton, and it is probably the first book I encountered that was written for children, and yet doesn't speak down to them.
posted by paradoxflow at 11:27 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

The answer is Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett. It's videogame themed (cleverly though, and not in a videogame spin-off/cash-in way) and aimed at kids (although I read it in my teens and still enjoyed it). Pratchett has a couple more featuring the same main character, should your nephew enjoy it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:32 AM on November 26, 2008

Piers Anthony's Blue Adept series (Split Infinity is the first one) was close to my heart as a kid. It takes place half in a sci-fi world and half in a fantasy world. In the sci-fi world, the main character competes in gaming tournaments. I bet the little guy would go for that.

The Xanth series might be good for him too, though maybe both these suggestions are a little old for him.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2008

Someone mentioned the Choose Your Own Adventure books already, but I'll just add that I loved these books when I was around that age. But I was already an avid reader, so H/YMMV.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 12:33 PM on November 26, 2008

Road-tested by our 7 and 9 year olds, (one is an avid reader, the other less so) these have all been big hits here (the reading levels of these vary pretty widely, but that is okay too)

Do Not Open, Pick Me Up, Mytbusters-Don't Try this at Home, The Jedi Readers Series, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Captain Underpants.
posted by coevals at 1:00 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Ultimate Spider-Man series of comics is mostly tame and a lot less campy and more "modern" than the original series. There are some graphic bits (Venom, Carnage, etc.) but nothing worse than most of the games he probably already plays.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:55 PM on November 26, 2008

I'd recommend tradepaperback comics. They're cheap and good value for the amount of reading you get...

Failing which you can try Masters of Doom about ID Software and the guys who made Quake and Doom
posted by friedbeef at 4:19 PM on November 26, 2008

My 8 year old gamer kid loved The Lightning Thief by Riordan. It's like Harry Potter but with Greek myths instead of wizards. Lots of action, monsters and there are 4 books out with a 5th coming in May.
posted by artychoke at 5:27 PM on November 26, 2008

The Lightning Thief is a great series, really really fast-paced and enjoyable. If that one seems like too many words, though, there's a new Prince of Persia graphic novel. It's super awesome, based on a video game, and kid friendly. Oh, and the Clone Wars Adventures little graphic novels are super bright, fresh, and keen.
posted by redsparkler at 7:21 PM on November 26, 2008

uhm, Piers Anthony books are NOT for 8 year olds. He likes to gratuitously throw in sex/rape, in practically every book. I think Terry Brooks is a more kid-friendly author. His Magic Kingdom novels is a series I remember fondly, though it never hurts to scan books before giving them to kids.
posted by Jacen at 8:41 PM on November 29, 2008

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