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.