Sharing the thrills of fantasy fiction

28th April 2006 at 01:00
I have been using Eye of the Dragon, one of the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks by Ian Livingstone, to encourage reading with a group of Year 8 pupils (three boys and a girl), who have low reading ages.

These titles are a mixture of story and game. The books consists of around 400 sections, ranging from two lines to full pages. The reader plays the lead character and at the end of the first section is given a choice of actions. They then turn to a numbered section and find out where their choice has led them. The story is complete when or if they finish the task their character has been set.

I used the fact that the book consists of small sections, photocopying ones that would be appropriate to the class. If they selected one of these then they were given the copy to read. If their selection was more challenging, I read it. As a result, the pupils not only had the suspense of wondering if their character would get out of a trap they were in, but also if they would have to read the selected section.

Eye of the Dragon is a high-fantasy treasure quest, but other titles in the range are about cars or have a space fiction setting. It was pleasing to see that the best way to be successful involved not only personal bravery, but a willingness to help others. The pupils helped each other rather than competing, and enjoyed the shared experience.

The game element also involves some numeracy work. The next challenge will be to plan and write a short story in this style. For more information about Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks visit www.fightingfantasycollector.co.uk

Ian Millsted

Year 8 Tutor, Stradbroke Business and Enterprise College, Suffolk

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