BOOKPAY

A Scenario for Encouraging Reading

Paul Heinberg

Last year, when you were six, you learned to read in Dycom. Now that you are seven and you can read, you are in Bookpay. Your class in Bookpay meets from 11:00 every morning until noon. Your tutor in Bookpay is Karen. Karen is nine years old. Some people in Bookpay are even ten years old.

There is a big U-Shaped table in the middle of the Bookpay room. More than one thousand books are on the table. There is everything on the table from fun-to-read comic books to big, thick books like grown-ups read. Dozens of kid-sized lounge chairs are around the room. They are fun to sit in. You can lean back until you are almost lying down, just like your mom's chair in your living room at home.

Along each of the four walls of the room are testing computers. Each testing computer has a stool in front of it that you sit on when you are ready to be tested.

You plan to be an astronaut when you grow up, so for two days now in Bookfun you have been reading the book Aeronautics Made Easy that you took from the big table. You finished reading it yesterday just before lunchtime. It was fun to read, but there were quite a few hard words in it. You asked Karen what some of the hard words meant, and you looked up a few words that Karen didn't know in one of the two dictionaries on each of the two ends of the U-shaped table.

Because testing takes about ten minutes, you didn't have enough time to take the test yesterday. But now you're ready to be tested. You take the book to Mrs. Abbott, the Bookpay Monitor who sits at the head of the big table. She pushes a button and aims her bar code reader at the book. You both see on her screen that you are assigned to Station Five for testing. You go and sit on the stool in front of the big "5" on the wall. On the screen appears the first of your four questions. It is:

1. When the wings of an airplane move through air, the wing lifts the airplane because:

(a) the air pushes on the bottom side of the wing.

(b) the air has to travel farther to get around the top of the wing than to get around the bottom of the wing.

(c) the wing is thicker at the front than at the rear.

Oh, that's easy, you say to yourself as you push Button B and the screen says, "Very good!" You answer each of the next two questions correctly, so thecomputer says, "Very good!" You do not have to answer the fourth question because all you need to win is to answer three of the four questions correctly."

Then, in a couple of seconds the computer flashes the message: "Congratulations!" You have proved that you have read and understood a Category A book."

You yell, "Yeah!" because it is an A Book, and your yelling bothers people sitting in the lounge chairs. You duck your head between your shoulders, and they turn back to reading. You are happy that it is an A Book, because your last choice turned out to be a C Book, and a C book is worth only one book for your home library. The message on the screen continues.

"Proof that you have read and understood an A book means that you get to choose three books for your personal library. You do not have to read any of those three books. Select your three books from the list that will now be shown to you. The Monitor will get your books from the Bookpay Storeroom and deliver them to you in the next few days."

The message on the screen continues. "Please make your three choices from any of the lists of books that will now be shown to you."

Choose which list you want to see.

Enter C for Class (fiction,non fiction, adventure, science, etc.)

Enter A for Author (you can name one or you can select one).

Enter S for Subject (you can name one or you can select one.)

Enter T for Title (if you know the title of the book you want).

To make a selection from any list, hit the CHOOSE button.

Your friend next door, Teddy, has a birthday next week, and he saw you reading Aeronautics Made Easy and he asked if he could read it after you. You can now do better than that. You can choose that book as one of your three books, and you can give it to him next week for his birthday. You enter T and then you type A-E-R-O and the computer completes the tile: AERONAUTICS MADE EASY.

You hit the CHOOSE Button, and you see:

One of the three books that you have selected is Aeronautics Made Easy

Choose which list you want to see.

Enter C for Class (fiction,non fiction, adventure, science, etc.)

Enter A for Author (you can name one or you can select one).

Enter S for Subject (you can name one or you can select one.)

Enter T for Title (if you know the title of the book you want).

You don't have any ideas, so you enter C for Class, and from the list you choose Poetry, and from that list of books of poetry you choose a book called "The Moon is Shining Bright As Day" which sounds like it ought to be fun to have at home to look at when you want to.

You spend another five minutes trying to decide on your third book. You finally choose an author, Beatrix Fairfax Potter, because you already own one book by her. You select from the list of her books, "Further Adventures of Peter Rabbit."

The computer says:

One of your three books for your library is: Aeronautics Made Easy.

One of your three books for your library is: The Moon is Shining Bright As Day. One of your three books for your library is: Further Adventures of Peter Rabbit.

Your Tutor is Karen Jones. Karen earns three credits towards any book of her choice because the book that you have read is a Category A Book. Please show your printout to Karen.

The computer prints out your name, the list of your three books, and a note to Karen that she has earned three credits for tutoring you. You know that you are to show your printout to the Monitor when your books are ready for you to pick up. The computer then says:

Please choose the next book that you want to read in Bookpay.

Choose which list you want to see.

Enter C for Class (fiction,non fiction, adventure, science, etc.)

Enter A for Author (you can name one or you can select one).

Enter S for Subject (you can name one or you can select one.)

Enter T for Title (if you know the title of the book you want).

You have no idea of which book to read next. Karen is reading across the room, so you go to Karen and show her the printout. She is glad that she has earned three credits, because she tells you that she already has fourteen credits, and she only needs twenty credits to get a big desk dictionary for her library at home. You ask Karen what book you should read. She says that when she was your age she liked books on dogs like Call of the Wild. You thank her and return to the computer at Station Five.

You have liked every book that Karen has suggested. You plan to be a tutor like Karen after you have read at least fifty A Books and fifty B Books. You have to do that to be a tutor. And then, when you're a tutor, you can get videotapes and CD's and books and other things.

You sit on the stool at Station Five and enter T for Title and then you type Call of the Wild. The computer says that the book is on the table and it is filed under G for Zane Gray.

You find the book and take it to the Monitor who uses her bar code reader to check it out to you. Because it is now checked out to you, you know that means that now you can not only read it during Bookpay but you can take it home to read.

Mrs. Abbott has a kind of fun job. She checks to see that the books are on the table in alphabetical order, and she takes books that people in Bookpay just look at and she puts them back where they belong. And she helps the little kids when they use the computer and there are some hard words in some of the test questions. And she gets the computer to tell her the subjects that kids ask for that don't have any books on the table, and she orders books on those subjects. Then she has three of the tutors read each new book for credits, and then the tutors meet and decide whether that new book is an A Book or a B Book or a C Book. And Mrs. Abbott reads the new book and meets with the three tutors who read the book, and they decide what four test questions to write about that new book that she should put in the computer.

Someday when you grow up, maybe you can be a Bookpay Monitor too. It's lots of fun teaching little kids to read.


Paul Heinberg is Full Professor, and Graduate Chair of Communications, Department of Communications, 2560 Campus Road,University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822.