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This author says Minecraft helps prepare kids for our world

Life is like a video game now, says author Max Brooks — it's constantly updating.
Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Life is like a video game now, says author Max Brooks — it's constantly updating.

A new kids book out this week tackles big, serious themes about war, liberty, security — even the purpose of a nation. It's called Minecraft: The Village.

It's author says Minecraft — yes, the video game — is a great vehicle for teaching life lessons.

Who is he? Author Max Brooks is best known for his meticulously researched guides on the zombie apocalypse and Bigfoot.

  • His work has led to a position at the Modern War Institute at West Point, where he speaks to the military about preparedness.

The cover of Brooks' latest book.
/ Penguin Random House
Penguin Random House
The cover of Brooks' latest book.

What's the big deal? In Minecraft: The Village, the third book in his trilogy, Brooks tackles some serious issues.

  • The series is based on the inescapably popular world-building video game, and follows two heroes, Guy and Summer, who are transported from our world to the world of Minecraft.
  • After settling in a little town, the heroes are forced to confront an entirely new set of challenges, when a war becomes an imminent presence in their lives.
  • In Minecraft, you can run into anything from bad guys to extreme climates and unknown terrains. Players have to deal with danger, manage resources and plan ahead. For Brooks, that openness makes Minecraft the perfect vehicle to teach kids about adapting as they enter a world where things are always changing.

What's he saying? Brooks spoke with NPR reporter Andrew Limbong about introducing heavier topics to children to help them understand their world.

On his motivation for including themes of war:

Want more on books? Listen to Consider This on the financial and emotional toll book bans are taking on librarians across the U.S.

On using the structure of technology to teach life lessons:

How'd he arrive here?

  • Growing up, Brooks struggled in school with dyslexia. And his mother, the famous actor Anne Bancroft, quit acting to help him get through school. She taught him that problems are a lot less scary if you are prepared — true both in our world and in Minecraft.
  • Minecraft: The Village is out now.

Learn more:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong
Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.