So, what will it take to get kids to read these days? Oxford University Press has a hankering that the answer lies in games.
The publishing company, which is the largest university press in the world, recently announced its partnership with SecretBuilders, a mobile online game developer that will do the technical work behind the gamification of classical literature for a younger audience. Aimed at the under-15 crowd, SecretBuilders plans to present fictional characters and detailed storylines digitally, giving children the opportunity to engage with the plot on their tablets and smart phones.
The project is part of the "50 Great Reads Before 15" campaign launched by Oxford University Press. Among the selected works are such time-honored classics as: Macbeth, Don Quixote, and Pride and Prejudice. SecretBuilders CEO Umair Khan explains that incorporating the latest and most viral technology in the effort will "ensure that children associate reading with fun so that their literary journey begins even before they can read their first page and continues long thereafter." The existing "gameworld" of SecretBuilders encompasses an online community of 7 million users, who each week interact with a work of classic literature through contests, missions, themed parties, and virtual talk shows that bring the characters and their worlds to life for young readers. Oxford University Press has sponsored "The Bookworms Club" within this gameworld to provide a base context for virtual activities relating to the books featured as part of the partnership.
In addition to the weekly spotlighted title, each month SecretBuilders will release a new mobile game that will be available across the gamut of app stores, including GooglePlay, iTunes, and Blackberry AppWorld. The first of these games is forthcoming for Nook and Kindle devices and will lead readers through Alice in Wonderland through a game that prompts them to find differences between images.