How do you make a novel come to life in the digital age? Better yet, how do you teach an appreciation of text and reading when the book is a movie? If you were to ask a random sampling of teenagers if they know the story The Hunger Games, will they reference the book or movie? In Stephen Apkon’s The Age of Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens, the author writes about being screen literate as mandatory for people in the 21st century in order for us to read the messages and ideas bombarding us by the gig every day. “Heck ya!” I said as I read this, (well, I most likely said something else but this is a family blog right?), because Apkon was speaking my language and my teaching language from my first day 13 years ago when I had to drag an old TV and VCR into the classroom. I received many strange and disapproving looks when I showed "The Simpsons" to teach satire or questioning stares when I explain how I teach the movie version of the novel with the same rigour as I teach the novel. I’m sure many of you get the same frowns and furrowed brows when you use screens "all the time” but keep at it. If we aren’t digitally literate and are not teaching our students to be the same, we are all at the mercy of the ridiculous messages mainstream media pummels us with.
The question we posed to the students was this: Why does Peter Jackson make changes to the story? More importantly, can you come up with categories for the types of changes he makes then evaluate the effectiveness of these changes?