OperationSupplyDropGlenn “Commander” Banton, the board chairman and executive director of Operation Supply Drop (OSD), is the next interviewee from the field of gaming in my Games & Books & Q&A series.

OSD is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides video-game-filled care packages to American and allied soldiers, both those deployed to combat zones and those recovering in military hospitals. The organization plans to increase on-base activities stateside, contribute further to peacekeeping and humanitarian missions worldwide, and help soldiers leaving the military to transition into entry-level game-developer jobs.

For reasons that you’ll read for yourself below, my exchange with Glenn brought to mind the much-needed focus and attention that “reluctant readers” receive from librarians today, as exemplified by this session at last year’s American Library Association conference. If you could use some “strategies for turning reluctant readers into ‘eager readers,'” I highly recommend it.

CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?

G”C”B: This is a great question! While I’m not 100% sure what the actual first game was, it almost certainly was on one of those Tiger handheld systems. Maybe the Bo Jackson Football/Baseball combo, Paperboy, or electronic football. We didn’t have a console-type system, so I remember saving up the $20-30 for these individual games. Also, around the same time frame I recall the long days and nights on Super Mario Bros. as well as the day we beat the game… and the utter disappointment in that it just starts the game over. I still know the house I was in when that happened and have even shown my kids. I’m not sure they’re impressed.

CB: What did you like to read when you were a kid? What did you love about it?

SuperfudgeG”C”B: When I was a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with reading — meaning I loved to hate it — which is quite odd given how much I now read as an adult. I remember very clearly reading (and enjoying) books like Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Clearly or Superfudge or How to Eat Fried Worms as well as what I’m sure a lot of kids’ favorite library checkout was around the same time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but that was very small window during 4th/5th grade.

In order to encourage more reading late in elementary school into middle school, my parents even offered to pay me 10 cents per chapter, and for some reason this didn’t work, either. As I got older, entering high school and then college, I can’t honestly remember reading much other than the Cliff’s Notes versions of books unless they were nonfiction. I believe this had a lot to do with the number of books being assigned in school and not having the time time to actually explore what I would have liked to read. I’d rather read books on computer programming or historical books, but those weren’t a part of the curriculum.

As I mention, though, I read a lot these days, probably 2-5 books each month. And even with both of my kids, they’re the types that telling them they cannot read would be a punishment.

CB: What book that you read while growing up had the most influence on who you became as an adult?

G”C”B: There are actually two, with one being more of a series of books. The first and most influential is the Bible. There is no other book on the planet from which a kid, or adult for that matter, can draw such wisdom. I still read the Bible every day. The second would be the Cub Scout, then Boy Scout handbooks. I was a scout for 7+ years, and nearly everything we did was also taught or narrated from one of these books. I’ve had the pleasure of recently starting up scouting again with my son, so it’s great to share these same lessons with him.


I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. (I suspect that this book will appeal to a few of those reluctant readers we just discussed.) If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.