I had an amazing “teachable” moment last week during a book talk with students. I read a short passage from HARE, and the students were really interested. They had lots of questions, but the one that almost left me speechless was this: “So, when the war came, did the huts all get blown up and burned – like, totally destroyed?” I said, “Yes. With grass roofs, they would burn very quickly. Why?” To which the student responded, “Oh, that’s what happens in this game – Call of Duty (I think that was the name) Everything gets burned right to the ground.”
I seized the moment and we had a thoughtful chat about what a child like young Jacob, struggling to survive during a real war, might think to see young people playing a virtual war game with many similarities to that child’s daily life. I hope our discussion might make some of the kids in that class think twice the next time they’re involved in playing a virtual war game. Even better, maybe some of them will read HARE, or other books about kids living in crisis, and broaden their understanding of the world and come to realize that war is no game.
As a side note, I had another student tell me today that he couldn’t remember ever having watched a movie without violence! Isn’t there enough real violence everywhere in the world that kids don’t have to be exposed to it in movies and on TV on a regular basis? As entertainment? Yikes!