My eight year old doesn't like to read and I'm thinking that these text adventures might be a good way to engage him. My only concern is that the narrative in most games may be above his reading level. Does any one know of a game that is designed for children (early readers)?
When in doubt, make your own...
What is he interested in?
Once he's engaged here, he may become a great programmer.
This one isn't on this site, but my nine-year-old nephew played it and liked it.
The nephew and I did have more fun making our own game...
...but I had to create the following commands to appease him:
Um, the zombie games on the front page, maybe?
When I was that age, I just played Mario Kart... I'm 20 now...
All I've got is this, "The Legend of the Secret of the Smelly, Stinky Fish." If he likes action based RPG's.
Making his own games sounds fine though, if you help him. (Regular Quest, online, don't use the gamebook unless he likes writing.)
If he has an interest in videogame s, any videogame, that may improve his reading.
I learned to read and love to read from loving video games, and thus the 'nintendo power' magazines taught me to read and to love to read, but this was back in the day...
nowadays, your best bet is to use free online guides/faqs on games (but no pictures like the nintendo power magazines), if your kid is interested in reading up more detail/strategy on a game he's playing and/or if he likes being a completionist with games, such as using this site: gamefaqs.com
You can also buy strategy guides from prima or any other company, but these are rip-off priced guides (and are not at all actually good as guides, as online sources, which have much more detail and accuracy: so glad we got the internet and thus free and better information now, hehe), but they got pictures to interest your kid more in reading them.
you can also try online forums on social media sites on tv-shows, movies, comics, manga, anime, and etc that your kid likes, where he can read other people's posts and post his own posts, discussing/debating topics on the tv-shows, movies, comics, manga, anime, and etc that your kid likes.
Though, there's lots of issues you got to watch out for with this... unless you can find a forum that is just for kids and is strictly enforced in keeping it "pg"
there's also RPG games, which have really good stories, plots, and dialogue, that the kid has to read, as he plays the RPG game.
maybe, just try reading good books/stories to him, and hope that he likes them enough, that he wants to try to learn to read, so he can read them himself... but again, reading books are boring with all of the technology and gadgets today, and the societal perme'abating clipped/snipped/"sound-byte slogan twitter shallow non-critical-thinking internet-slang communication" we do nowadays, sighs
but, I'm well aware of the issue nowadays with all of the technology/gadgets, as no one reads anymore... so... good luck...
IF I didn't have multiple projects on my plate right now, I would certainly view this as a challenge. I have written a pretty great kids book as a leisure project (excuse me as I break my arm patting my own back). That book could very well be turned into a text adventure game I think. I think my next project might just be this. In the meantime, best of luck.
My impression is that most of the games on this site are aimed at teens and up, so eight is probably a bit young to be starting, assuming your son will be working on the games alone. Perhaps you could begin by playing games with him, where he would be encouraged to read to help make decisions? I have played Avast Ye Mateys with my seven year old grandson, which seemed to be successful. I was able to move from him helping me, to me helping him after an hour or so. Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a second game that comes close to this experience!