Today on The Hermit Librarian, I’m pleased to welcome back Danica Davidson, author of over twelve Minecraft books for young readers. Last year, Danica spoke to my readers about her adventures in publishing. Her adventures have certainly taken on a grander scale as recently she had the chance to speak before members of the EU and their children about literacy, online citizenship, and fact-checking, as well as her catalog of books that embrace a lot fun aspects that appeal specifically to the children.
With a new box-set recently released, An Unofficial Overworld Heroes Adventure Series Box Set, as well as a section of her website with writing advice for ambitious young writers (here), Danica continues her excellence in reaching out to audiences that directly enjoy her books and those that put her titles in the hands that most benefit from them.
If you’re invited to give a speech before members of the European Union and their kids, what do you say?
Last spring Microsoft invited me to speak in Brussels, Belgium in their special offices that work with the EU. They were putting on a Minecraft event. I write adventure chapter books for kids that take place as if Minecraft is real (twelve books out so far!), and I talk a lot about literacy and empowering kids through reading.
I flew from Detroit to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to Brussels. The area of the city I was in (there wasn’t much time for sightseeing) was mostly government buildings. I’d never been to Brussels before, and I always love the opportunity to see more of the world.
Before I gave the speech, I’d discussed the details with Microsoft and we came up with an outline for what I’d talk about. So I started the speech by talking a bit about my background, then why the game Minecraft makes for great storytelling. It encourages imagination and critical thinking. Writing books about Minecraft can bring in kids who love gaming but might not be so into reading, and it can hopefully show them how fun reading can be.
Then I talked about some of the issues my books cover, while stressing that the most important thing for me with these books is that they’re entertaining. They’re adventure stories with many cliffhanger chapter endings — the main character, 11-year-old Minecraft character Stevie, has his fill of fighting monsters and saving the worlds. But… at the same time the books talk about things like cultural differences, teamwork, online citizenship and critical thinking while online.
I show cultural differences with how Stevie finds a portal to Earth and makes Earth friends. They are literally from different worlds, and they don’t always see eye to eye or agree on things, but Stevie gets a basic understanding that different things work for different people and that people have more in common than they have different. The real world is more complicated than this, but the fantasy setting does allow me to talk about real issues in a made-up setting.
The characters almost always have to work as a team to get things done. With online citizenship, I discussed how Stevie is baffled by the Internet when he comes to Earth, seeing as how it can be used for helping or harming. The books discuss cyberbullying.
I also talked about fact-checking, which is brought up briefly 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 especially got a good response. I want kids (and adults!) to think through things and double-check on details, not jump on loud bandwagons that are going to cause more harm than good.
The speech was about twenty minutes long, and the next ten minutes were full of questions from the kids of EU members. They seemed really into what I was talking about and wanted to know more. I’ve never had any other experience like it, and I’m grateful that I was able to have this chance.
About the Author
Danica Davidson is the author of YA and children’s novels and graphic novels. She has the Minecrafter novels 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; the how-to-draw manga books Manga Art For Beginners and Manga Art for Intermediates; the comic book Barbie Puppies: Puppy Party; and “Picture Perfect” in the graphic novel Tales from the Crypt. Her books have been called “EXCITING” by Forbes, “RECOMMENDED READING” by School Library Journal, and have been spotlighted by NPR, Sci Fi Magazine, Barnes & Noble Kids Blog, MTV and other publications. Please check out her site at www.danicadavidson.com.