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Novel series encourages kids to read



Published: Mon, June 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Authors of 'Times Soldiers' combine exciting story lines with realistic special effects to attract the kids.

By VERONICA GORLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

Distractions are everywhere -- in video games, action-packed movies, television and the Internet.

In a world of action and adventure, how do you encourage your child to read?

Enter "Time Soldiers," a new series of books aimed toward encouraging children, especially boys, to read. Developed by Robert Gould and Eugene Epstein and co-authored by Kathleen Duey, "Time Soldiers" combines exciting story lines and photo-realistic, movie-style special effects on every page.

"It's basically how Spielberg does the Jurassic Park movies only in book form," Gould said.

The series, published by BIG GUY BOOKS Inc. and targeted to children ages 4 to 10, follows the adventures of five boys and one girl as they find a time portal and visit different periods in history. Gould said the wide age range exists because 4-year-olds want the books read to them.

"Kids are mesmerized by the action-packed story lines, so they won't even vaguely associate them with 'homework,'" Gould said. "And the fact that these books come in a series will encourage kids to read more than one title. Just like grown-ups, kids are naturally driven to find out 'what happens next.' "

The first two books in the series, "Rex" and "Rex2," deal with prehistoric times. The other books cover pirate adventures, Arthurian legends, Robin Hood and the American West.

"Kids love these books," Gould said. "They'll sit down and read them from front cover to back cover."

Reluctant readers: Gould said he has been wanting to get into the children's book industry for 10 years. About six years ago, he began doing research. Through his research he discovered the "reluctant readers" group, which consisted of boys ages 4 through 10. He then conducted interviews with high school students to discover how reading affects academics.

"If the kids don't start reading early, it makes it harder in high school," Gould said.

Gould believes that kids are easily distracted from reading in a world of visual stimuli and action.

"The main thrust we're really trying to get out there is that you really need to pull kids away from the things that keep them from reading," Gould said.

According to Gould, the books are not just children's illustrated adventure books. They contain realistic photos with real kids and costumes, as well as believable graphics.

The Web site, www.time soldiers.com, was developed to encourage learning as well as reading. It offers contests, dinosaur facts and "Time Soldiers" products.

Gould said the release of the Time Soldiers books is timed with the upcoming release of "Jurassic Park 3" -- and just in time to keep kids occupied during summer vacations and trips.

Barry Cunningham, original printer of the Harry Potter books, is currently publishing "Time Soldiers" books in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand through Chicken House Publishing Ltd.

"They're doing well over there," Gould said.

Gould has also been working on a separate series for the Christian Book Association. The series of 10 books of Bible stories is scheduled to be released this winter. He is also involved with negotiations with a comic book company with plans on having "Time Soldiers" characters meet comic book characters. Eventually, Gould said he hopes to move into the educational system, creating textbooks like the "Time Soldiers" series.

The books are available at various bookstores nationwide, Amazon.com or timesoldiers.com.




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