August 9, 2009

JUNIOR ZOMBIE WEEK STARTS NOW!

Welcome to a very special week-long feature here on The Zed Word zombie blog!

JUNIOR ZOMBIE WEEK!



This week, I'm going to spotlight some great zombie stuff for kids. Prepping this week's material was a real joy since my love of monsters, and later zombies, started early in my life, so I have a soft spot for kid-friendly horror media.

This week also came out of an old discussion on the Mail Order Zombie discussion forums about the best way to introduce kids to zombies. The discussion got me thinking about zombie media available for kids, but I didn't expect there to be much out there. Therefore, I was amazed by the number of books that I
actually found at my local library by just searching for "zombie."

Whether or not your kids are already monster and zombie fans and you're looking for something to entertain them, or whether you want to get your kids interested in zombies, you'll find a variety of different media on the blog this week that will do the job.

Although I will be touching on toys and video games and movies, my main focus this week is going to be on books for readers between grade 1 and 12. Literacy is an incredibly important skill that every child needs to cultivate. Kids are growing up in an increasingly digital age in which they are bombarded with more information than ever before in human history. However, I have seen as an educator that too many people are growing up without a love of reading or the essential literacy skills to effectively process and interact with the world of information around them. I'm lucky. My parents really put me on the right path by reading to me at a young age. Even my father, who was not the strongest reader, devoted his time and love by reading to me.

Others are not so lucky. According to a Canadian Living article by Dee Van Dyk, "[a] staggering 22 per cent of adult Canadians have serious difficulty reading and understanding any printed material." The first step to improving these statistics is by nurturing a child's reading skills and defusing 'literacy spoilers' -- explained in Dyk's article as those everyday complications that dissuade children from loving to read.

And I think that families with zombie fans can use zombie literature to help prevent these "literacy spoilers" in their own lives.

SPOILER #1. Treating reading like a chore
Too many children are turned off by reading because it's treated as a chore to be completed before doing fun activities, like playing video games. Many parents also consider it a chore to get their kids to read if the parents aren't readers too. If your family has any zombie fans, reading a spooky or funny zombie tale can help make reading time a fun time.

SPOILER #2. Expecting your kids to read without being a reader yourself
Be a good role model for your children by reading. If you love zombies, reading zombie books with your children and sharing your stories with them will help motivate children to discover other books and stories on their own.

SPOILER #3. Overlooking routine opportunities to read
Take every opportunity to have your kids read so that reading becomes an everyday part of their lives. Reading the back of your zombie DVDs, for example, will keep your children in constant practice. Instead of letting your kids draw out their pre-bedtime hours watching TV, set bedtime earlier and start reading bedtime stories instead. Mysterious and exciting zombie stories can make bedtime worth waiting for.

SPOILER #4. Watching too much television and too many movies
You can learn a lot from television, but reading helps cultivate imagination and internal stimulation. Instead of watching zombie cartoons or kid-friendly zombie movies, open a book instead! One of the best things about zombies is what they leave to the imagination, an imagination sparked by reading.

SPOILER #5. Not having books in your house
A personal library or a constant supply of books from public libraries will make your children more comfortable with books and reading. Again, if you have zombie fans in the family, filling your personal library with zombie fiction becomes that much more interesting and motivating.

Zombies can't read, but that doesn't mean kids shouldn't either. I hope that JUNIOR ZOMBIE WEEK will provide parents and kids from grades 1 - 12 with a variety of interesting and different incarnations of the zombie that will delight kids and parents alike.