Wrong Books (4): Chess for Kids

There are several books with this title, but the one I had in mind in this episode of my occasional series concerning books which are often bought by the wrong people for the wrong reasons, was this.

In truth there were many books I could have chosen for this article, but I didn’t want to be unfair to other authors, so I selected my own. This is the only thing I’ve written where the royalties justified the time spent writing it. It seems to have sold so well that it’s now out of print: let’s hope it will be available again soon.

And yet, and yet… the children I’ve spoken to have all told me they enjoyed reading it, which is lovely to know. But I’m sure that, with most of them, it’s had little or no effect on their chess.

I wouldn’t have a problem if I thought the book was being used correctly, with the parents reading the book together with their children, setting up the board and playing through the moves that Sam and Alice play as they learn chess. But, in most cases, I’m sure it isn’t. Well-intentioned parents want their children to learn chess but are too busy to get involved themselves so they buy a book for their children to teach themselves.

Except that chess doesn’t work like that. It’s a complicated adult game, not a simple children’s game.

What should happen instead is that parents, whether or not they already play chess, should buy this book instead. Then they can decide whether, why, how and when they should teach their children chess. If they then decide their seven-year-old is ready for chess – and they’re prepared to make the time available to help them learn, they might like to buy their children a book. At that point there are quite a few books to choose from, all of which present more or less the same material in different ways. Some parents will like my way, taking a mini-chess approach and using a story with cartoons and jokes. Others will prefer other books using different methods – which is absolutely fine. The important thing is that parents are proactively involved in the learning process.

I’d be much happier if my book for parents, rather than my book for children, was a best-seller.

Richard James

Please follow and like us:
follow subscribe
Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

You May Also Like