CBCA Book Week Challenge: Choose Your Own Adventure

August 21, 2012 Ka'ela Ja'el
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Over on her blog, Tansy Rayner Roberts is celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week, and she has challenged people to talk about their childhood reading.

I decided this year I want to do something fun on the blog to celebrate Book Week, as I usually forget about it until it’s too late. So I’m going to write some posts about my childhood reading, not only favourite books, but how I read them and why I still remember them.

So I thought I might try and take up her invitation.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I was eight or nine when these started appearing in the local newsagency, and for a couple of years they were an important part of my life. My brother and I were immediately captivated by them when they first came out. Brusome was four years older than me, and most definitely didn’t! read! at! all!

We actively saved our pocket money for these books, and would check the newsagency every time we went passed, just in case the new one was early.

And when a new title was finally released and we had it in our possession, we’d sit at the kitchen table and take turns reading it. At times I think the kitchen timer (aka mum) had to be employed, but generally each read through was very quick. And, when we were sharing, a “no cheating” rule was introduced – if you weren’t sure of what choice to make and you peeked ahead, you would forfeit your turn. And if we went ahead and bought one on our own, there was as a certain respect this commanded, and the book could be used as a bargaining chip – “If you do the dishes for me, I’ll let you read it through once.” At times they would even become a form of currency – “I’ll trade you my newest book for…”

Many of the titles were SF oriented – I’m pretty sure time travel was a recurring theme, but aliens and the future were always popular as well, and it’s quite possible this is where my love for the genre started, as neither of my parents had the slightest interest in anything SFish, Mum tends towards life stories, and Dad reads…well anything that isn’t SF really – .in his words, it leaves him cold. So we didn’t read, or even watch, science fiction until Choose Your Own Adventure came into our lives, but after that it seems to be a constant in my memories.

As an eight year old, it was very exciting to have an element of control over the narrative, knowing that one wrong choice could end my life/story, but if you chose wisely you could get your “happy ever after”. and I’m sure reading  CYOA books was also my springboard into text based adventure games when Brusome got his Commodore 64 – first Zork and others, and in later years games like Space Quest, Quest for Glory, and  Police Quest. Games that I spent many, many hours days weeks months playing.

It’s quite possible that even though they were really only a part of my life for maybe three years before I outgrew them, Choose Your Own Adventure books were some of the most influential reading I did as a young child.

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Entry Filed under: Reading

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