You're relaxing during your time off and an image of the opening credits of Star Wars: A New Hope scrolls through your mind. Or maybe it's an image of ET's glowing finger, the sound of Inigo Montoya saying "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die," or an image of the Charlotte's Web cover. All of these things remind me of my childhood and teenage years. I've loved sci-fi and fantasy as long as I can remember.
But how did it start? Did my parents guide me into sci-fi or did I just fall into it on my own? I may never know the answer, but it definitely made me think: How does one introduce children and young adults to the genre? Read on for a few suggestions from me and fellow GWCers!
One thing you can do is to read to your children. Read them anything and everything; it'll open their minds and their imagination. Better yet, it'll get them reading for themselves and deciding what they enjoy. Talk to them about what they're reading and discuss any questions they may have. Your local library is an inexpensive source for books and in some instances even movies.
Don't forget that In this digital age, audio books may be appropriate for some youngsters. Sites like Kid's Audible and PodioBooks dish up new young adult titles up all the time. "My wife bought our eldest daughter The Secrets of Droon series and she tore through it," GWCer Frakkintalos says. "She enjoys reading and devours books."
TV And Movies
You'll find plenty of titles available to share, quite a few of them animated (to which younger children might prove more receptive). And don't forget on-demand video like Hulu, Netflix Instant Watch, and even YouTube. When I asked GWCer Solai how he plans to introduce 'Lil Solai to sci-fi, he responded:
"I had to dial up the way back machine, do some basic math, and consult IMDB to figure out the following: I was 7 when I encountered my first science fiction in the form of Star Wars. From there I had a steady appetite for science fiction in the form of Star Trek, Voyagers, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galactica.
"When I think about the access my little one has to entertainment through DVDs, YouTube, and other channels, I know that she may find it before I can properly introduce her to it. I'm pretty sure that I'll wait until she is around ten to sit down and watch Star Wars together and then slowly walk through the genre. My goal is not to make her a sci-fi devotee, but to give her an appreciation of the genre in the same way I hope she appreciates all foods, all cultures, and her surroundings. Ultimately I hope it creates a bond with her that we share together the same way that I'll always feel close to my step-father with Star Trek."
Board games, computer games, console games -- the options are just incredible. Frakkintalos: "When we got a Wii, one of the first games I purchased was Lego Star Wars and later Lego Indiana Jones. These games were a real gateway. [Kids] ask all types of questions about the series."
Music And Podcasts
You'll find many genres of music -- like wizard rock -- that you can listen to with your children. It doesn't have to be a soundtrack for a movie! GWCer GwensDad2003 says that Gwen was somewhat resistant to sci-fi initially. "I'd turn on TV and tell her that's what I'm watching. She watched. It didn't work once she discovered Disney Channel, though," he says. "Her first movie in a theater was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and at one time [she] sang along to wizard rock. She knew the words to Save Ginny Weasley!"
But what if you're just not sure where to start? I asked my fellow GWC'ers the same question. Frakkintalos suggests you "just be yourself. Anything you love they are sure to at least be inquisitive about, and you can use that to share. Take an interest in what they enjoy. Sometimes there's a sci-fi spin to it. For example, animated films like Wall-E, Shrek, etc. contain sci-fi inside jokes." GwensDad2003 suggests cartoons: "Cartoon Network's Friday night lineup has some good stuff for this, and Doctor Who could be good for some kids."
But most importantly, just do it. Hopefully your child will discover sci-fi and love it just as much as you do!
Podiobooks.com [Official Website]
Kids.Audible.com [Official Website]
Children's Literature Comprehensive Database [Official Website]
The Internet Movie Database [Official Website]
WizardRock.org [Official Website]
Parent's Choice Video Games [Official Site]