Why I Spoke to the European Union About How My Minecrafter Books Help Kids
By Danica Davidson
I love books, and I also love Minecraft. Is it a surprise? So far I’ve written 12 chapter books that take place as if Minecraft is real (Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down Into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine, Battle with the Wither, Adventure Against the Endermen, Mysteries of the Overworld, Danger in the Jungle Temple, Clash in the Underwater World, Last of the Ender Crystal, and Return of the Ender Dragon). Aimed for ages 7-12, they follow the adventures of Stevie, and 11-year-old Minecraft boy who accidentally finds a portal to Earth. With his Earth friends and his danger-loving cousin Alex, the kids set off on a series of adventures in the different worlds, fighting monsters and saving lives. The books are full of chapter cliffhangers and action.
But I also add a layer of depth under the action, and that’s why I was asked last summer to give a speech on my books to members of the European Union and their kids.
Microsoft, the owner of Minecraft, set up the event and flew me to Brussels, Belgium. There I gave a twenty-minute speech (plus ten minutes of Q&A, mostly from the kids) about how Minecraft and my Minecrafter books can be empowering and educational. The game can help kids with using their imagination and critical thinking, and my books can help with literacy. In the midst of Stevie's adventures, the characters also deal with real world kid issues: going to a new school, making friends, handling bullies. It also talks about the online world, with Stevie noting that the Internet is a double-edged sword, used for good and bad. The kids have to deal with cyberbullies who hack into Stevie’s Minecraft world and make it eternal night, and this fantastic setting allows us to talk about how cyberbullying is an issue for many kids.
The books also talk about thinking for yourself and not jumping too conclusions. I see way too much jumping-to-conclusions on the Internet, and that led me to writing these lines in my book The Last of the Ender Crystal:
“I think we just need to watch and learn,” Maison said. “My mom always said you can't jump to conclusions and you have to learn all about something before you have an opinion on it.”
Yancy snorted. “Not in the days of the Internet. The more knee-jerk your reaction, the more the Internet seems to reward you for it.”
Those lines went over especially well during my talk. The parents in the European Union looked intrigued and interested, while their kids were excited and had lots of questions for me afterward. I said I hope these books can empower children in their own lives, to help them become readers, thinkers, and doers. While Stevie sees the world can be cruel, he sees it can also be kind. I want to write these books to be entertaining, but also to have heart.