Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday Shout-Out: The MineCraft books (a.k.a. middle school catnip)

AUTHOR: multiple authors (see booklist below)
PUBLISHER: multiple publishers
NUMBER IN SERIES: standalone
GENRE: nonfiction

Saturday Shout-Out time! Today's Shout-Out is an absolute must for any elementary or middle school library. I recently purchased 11 MineCraft titles for my library. We all know MineCraft is crazy-popular with our students, particularly middle-graders. While I don't personally play MineCraft, my own children, boys ages 8 and 10, are dedicated players. My 8-year old recently spent "report card money" from his Grandpa on a diamond sword and a diamond pick-axe. They both have MineCraft t-shirts and various other small MineCraft toys that are always fun to step on with bare feet. At a waterpark recently, my 10-year old randomly struck up a conversation with another boy who was also wearing a MineCraft t-shirt. Ah, MineCraft, the universal language of 10-year old boys everywhere.

Anywhoo. I bought these 11 titles for my library, and before I even had them out of the box, my sixth and seventh graders were positively salivating over them. Begging to put them on hold so that they were the first to get them. My own children were the same way (love those benefits of having a librarian mom!).

There are some teachers, librarians, administrators, and parents who will argue that libraries should not be spending limited funds on MineCraft "junk" books. While I do understand the argument (I spent about $100 on these 11 books--they are suprisingly cheap!), I'd much rather spend this money on books that I know will get lots of student love than niche books (ahem, professional development books, cough-cough) that are far more expensive and tend to gather dust.

Word about our library's new MineCraft books got out quickly. I had started a display that never actually came to pass because the books were never, ever in. Eventually I gave up on the display and just propped up the books on the circulation desk as they became available. They never stayed there long.

Providing the books students go wild over is about planting a seed. Students who were barely in the library outside their schedule class time were suddenly popping in on passing periods to see if their holds had come in yet. They were digging through new book boxes and ooh- and aah-ing over the newest shiny MineCraft books. And do you know what they also saw while digging through those boxes? You guessed it--other books! I now had a chance to talk to students OUTSIDE THEIR CLASSES (super-important to developing rapport with them) about books they were excited about. This gave me virtually unlimited opportunities to personally booktalk other books they might like from our Humor and Graphic Novels sections.

All it takes is ONE book. One book that fires up a student's excitement about reading. The MineCraft books appealed to a huge number of my students, but they were like catnip for my 6th and 7th grade boys. Some of these students were those who had all but given up on reading, who were starting to say they "hate reading." They desperately need books they can get excited about. You just never know what will make a student who "hates reading" to go out on a limb and say to me, "I've read all the MineCraft books, Mrs. C. What else you got?"

TIPS FOR BOOKTALKING THESE BOOKS: Not much booktalking needed for MineCraft books. You don't even really need to say anything at all--just put them out on your counter. Then sit back and wait for the stampede! Also:

  • Set up an "If you like MineCraft..." display of graphic novels and Wimpy-Kid style books. Use boxes of various sizes to build a MineCraft display. Loads of ideas on Pinterest!

  • MineCraft as careers display or booktalk--features books about real-world applications for MineCraft--engineering, architecture, interior design, construction, art, creative writing (worldbuilding), city design, cartographer, game development, etc.
Other articles to explore:
10 Things for Parents to Love About MineCraft
MineCraft is Shaping a Generation, and That's A Good Thing
Five Things MineCraft Teaches Kids 

Do you have MineCraft books in your library? Have you had any pushback about them from parents, teachers, or administrators? Share your thoughts in the (CAPTCHA-FREE!) comments section below.

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  1. I did the same thing at our library but only had about 8 books. Had the same result, they were never in and the kids were SO excited about them, both boys and girls. I think they are great in the library: reading non-fiction, sequencing, following directions. I discovered this summer that Amazon has a lot of Minecraft ebooks for free. Working out how to use those as well.

    1. I will have to check into the free e-books on Amazon--my students would love that, too! Glad to hear you had the same awesome results I did!


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