"Reading: Can it be fun and educational at the same time?"
by Elysabeth Eldering
Have you ever picked up a book that was said to be educational and found it to be boring? Have you ever read an educational book that you thought could be fun for the youngsters in the schools? If you've read an educational book that you thought was boring, what would make it more fun and still keep the educational component to it?
In my series, the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series, I've found a way to appeal to both the fun and educational side of books. My goal was to be entertaining and informative without forcing the learning aspect.
How does one go about finding the happy median to be both educational and fun? Find a topic that interests you. Find the most appealing and fun, sometimes quirky, information about that topic. Educational does not have to mean boring. Write as if you are a child experiencing the material for the first time. What would your reaction be to a silly law clue like "In this state, it is illegal to give another citizen a box of candy weighing more than fifty pounds."?
After all your information is gathered, find a way to convey the topic in a less traditional way that is fun. My series uses a handheld game that is a cross between a PSP and Nintendo DS or any number of other devices like that. Taking all the facts that I've gathered, I made the game the star. The characters playing the game become the "geography squad" and they have to guess the state based on clues thrown out at them. As they discuss the clues, the readers are learning through the eyes of the characters. It's a balance of reaction and personalities coming through on the pages. Use your gut reactions and base your characters' reactions in a similar way. Dialogue will carry through in situations like this.
Educational topics do not have to be boring any more when you find the right balance of fun and out-of-the-ordinary topics to write about.
Elysabeth lives in upper state South Carolina and is the author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state mystery trivia series. She enjoys reading, writing, cross stitching, crocheting and being a band mom. On weekends in the fall, she can be found at band competitions. If she's not working or writing, she's attending Sisters in Crime meetings or SCWW writing meetings.
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