Sunday, August 23, 2015

In Real Life

Title: In Real Life 
Author: Cory Doctorow 
Illustrator: Jen Wang 
Publisher: First Second 
Publication Date: October 14th, 2014 
Genre/Format: Graphic Novel/Realistic Fiction 
GoodReads Summary: Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.
From acclaimed teen author (Little BrotherFor the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash.  
What I Think: When I saw the gorgeous cover to this book and spotted Cory Doctorow's name as a co-author, I knew I had to buy In Real Life. I absolutely adore this book and am so happy for an accessible story that I believe young adult readers will relate and adults will learn from.
     I have to admit, I still have my original AOL e-mail address from 1994. Something about it is nostalgic so I just can't let go of it. Chat rooms were fun when I was in high school and while I don't play online games or visit chat rooms any more, I love Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Vine. I have a digital presence and I know the potential and power of finding people I connect with around the world thanks to technology. But as I talk to more and more teachers, the more I realize not everyone has this same perspective and understanding of the depth of what it means to be a digital citizen.
     How can parents and teachers support students as they navigate this digital world if we don't know the lay of the land? I'm so excited to share In Real Life with teachers and parents so they can think through online relationships and how they impact our IRL relationships. But I'm also thrilled to have a book to share with students who might need to find solace in the fact that others are experiencing what they might be when forging online relationships. I know it was amazing for me to read Anda's story and see how our view of the world expands thanks to technology.
     I love this as a mentor text for examining character development and giving students opportunities to make connections, imagine possibilities, and talk through the impact of the choices we make. If I was writing a digital citizenship curriculum, this would most definitely be an anchor text. This would also make a great mentor text for comparing and contrasting because we have one character who is similar yet different online versus offline and both of her personas impact each other.
Read Together: Grades 7 - 12  
Read Alone: Grades 8 - 12 
Read With: Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 
Snatch of Text:  
See the book trailer here.
Writing Prompts: Think about how you interact with others through digital media - or imagine how it might be different from in person - and write about what you see might be different or the same.  
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Loyalty, Honesty, Advocacy, Support, Culture 
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