Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Study: Comics Are Key to Promoting Literacy in Boys

This SLJ article is so great, I have little to add to it:

Comics Are Key to Promoting Literacy in Boys, Study Says

Just in time for Comic-Con 2010, a new report says comics and graphic novels may hold the secret to promoting literacy in young boys.

Long dismissed as fluff by parents, educators, and even librarians, the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) reaffirms what researchers have long held to be true: girls are generally more inclined to read than boys. But it goes on to say that's partly because their literary interests aren't well represented in school libraries and classrooms.

Boys are more likely to enjoy reading science and nonfiction, informational texts, how-to manuals, fantasy, adventure stories, and stories that are scary or gross, along with books about hobbies and things they do or want to do. They also tend to prefer visual media, such as the Internet, newspapers, and magazines that focus on sports, electronics and video games.

"While boys show clear preferences for specific reading material, these genres and media are generally under-represented or even unavailable in school libraries, a reflection of the views of teachers and librarians who judge such material inappropriate," says the CCL.


The report says comics serve as an effective gateway to reading prose-based works and contribute to visual literacy, as well as the ability to understand and respond to a visual image. Comics also can help develop many of the same literacy skills as books, such as how to follow a sequence of events; connect narratives to the reader's own experiences, predict what will happen next, and interpret symbols.

Even before children are ready to read text, comic books can give them practice in understanding material printed on a page, tracking left to right and top to bottom, and inferring what happens between individual panels in a story, the report says, adding that thanks to their strong visual element, they're a used as teaching aids for second-language learners and students with learning difficulties.

"It is clear that comics have become an undeniable and potentially powerful part of our society and culture," says Cappon. "Considering the evidence it is time that educators and parents put aside any misgivings that they may have and embrace comics as a positive teaching and learning tool."

[UPDATE:] I stand corrected. I do have something to add: Go read the actual report on the study, because it's even awesomer. (See the vocabulary I picked up from reading comics as a kid?) For instance, this great section:

Debunking some comic book myths

One common myth about comics is that reading them can replace the reading of other genres. Research shows that concern is misguided. Boys who read comic books regularly also tend to read more text-based material and report higher levels of overall reading enjoyment, compared to boys who do not read comic books.[24] In fact, some evidence supports the idea that comic books provide a “gateway” to other literary genres. For example, some researchers have argued that the language of comic books can help young people make the transition from informal everyday language to formal written language.[25]

Another popular myth is that the visual element of comic books makes them more suited to immature readers. In fact, comics can help readers develop a number of useful language and literacy skills. The extensive use of images in a comic book requires readers to develop two kinds of literacy: visual literacy and comics literacy. Visual literacy is the ability to interpret the meaning of various kinds of illustrations.[26] It involves all the processes of knowing and responding to a visual image, as well as all the thought that might go into constructing or manipulating an image. Comics literacy refers to the ability to understand a sequence of events or images, to interpret characters’ non-verbal gestures, to discern a story’s plot and to make inferences.[27]

Comic books allow children to develop many of the same skills as reading text-based books such as connecting narratives to children’s own experiences, predicting what will happen next and inferring what happens between individual panels. Even before children are ready to read text, comic books can give them practice in making meaning from material printed on a page, tracking left to right and top to bottom, interpreting symbols, and following the sequence of events in a story.[28]

Comic books have been shown to be useful for beginning readers, since the reduced text makes the language manageable for new readers.[29] Comics expand children’s vocabulary by giving contexts to words that the child would not normally have been exposed to.[30] New readers can also learn story elements through reading comics. Like novels, comics have a beginning, middle and end, main characters that develop through conflicts and story climax. Comics thus introduce the concepts of narrative structure and character development.[31]

Comic books can also provide a tool for improving reading development among second- language learners, as the illustrations provide contextual clues to the meaning of the written narrative and because they present language as it is used in action.[32]

Comic books can help children with learning or reading difficulties.[33] Research highlights how a number of the features found in comics can be of benefit to those with dyslexia and similar challenges, particularly the left-to-right organization of comics' panels, the use of upper case letters, and the use of symbols and context to help with comprehension. As well, the research indicates that learners who can read well and those with reading problems are equally attracted to comics.[34]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jenni Holm interviewed by Good Comics for Kids at Comic Con

Another from-the-floor Comic Con video interview: This time, Jenni is interviewed by Good Comics for Kids' Eva Volin:

Summer Reads from St. Louis Today

St. Louis Today's Patty Carleton recommends some good summer reads for kids, including BABYMOUSE: BEACH BABE:

The Reading Corner: Make a big splash

Last month we focused on picture books. For more challenge to older kids, tuck these titles into their bag as they head to the pool or beach.

After all, it's not too late to "Make a Splash" in a summer reading club. Check out these titles (and more). There is a chance to bring home prizes for the enjoyment and effort.

Babymouse: Beach Babe by Jennifer Holm (Random House, 2006) is a graphic novel for elementary kids. Our squiggly-whiskered heroine heads with her family to the beach. Complete with crowds, surfboard wipeouts, sunburn and the odd shark, she is challenged to keep her younger sibling out of her fur.

Jenni and Matt Holm talk Babymouse and more at Comic Con

Check out our video interview with SUVUDU on the floor of the 2010 San Diego Comic Con!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DC Canceling yet ANOTHER imprint for young readers??

Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading reports on a sad, but not surprising, possible turn of events for DC:

DC’s offerings for October reveal that issue #22 will be the last of Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam will end at #21. Super Friends already died this month, with issue #29. From the Johnny DC superhero books for kids, that leaves… Tiny Titans, which continues with a crossover. (It remains to be seen if/when the regular book will return.) The cartoony books also remain: Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, and the like. More house-cleaning at DC? It’s hard to believe that they won’t have some kind of Batman book for kids, since he’s such a popular character, with tie-in cartoons.
Meaning, that essentially the whole "Johnny DC" imprint is kaput.

Several readers have speculated that, Comic Con being this week (and Batman: The Brave and the Bold being a successful Cartoon Network ongoing series), the announcement of the cancellations may foreshadow the announcement of some new young-readers venture. We can only hope. Else, it seems that, as I said in an earlier post:
... Marvel and DC, which, when I was growing up, were companies who did nothing BUT sell comics to kids, apparently no longer are able to sell anything to kids. The revolution of the 1980s took full hold of these two companies, and today they are really just publishing for an adult-only audience.

The big takeaway is that comics for kids, while hopefully thriving, are entirely in the hands of Book publishers and Manga publishers, and not at all in the hands of the people who brought us Spider-Man and the Super Friends.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BABYMOUSE creators Matthew and Jennifer Holm at Comic Con!!

Yes, it's true, Jenni and I will be at San Diego Comic Con this year! Sunday is Kids Day, and we're going to be on a panel with other kids' book and graphic novel creators. (Actually, I'll be on the panel... Jenni is actually RUNNING the panel.)

Sunday, July 25
Entertaining One's Inner Child — Ever since Harry Potter burst onto the scene, children's books have been taking over the bestseller lists. Creators discuss the thrills and challenges of creating memorable characters for the younger set. Panelists include Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules), Sina Grace (Among the Ghosts), Matt Holm (Babymouse), Adam Rex (Fat Vampire), David Steinberg (Daniel Boom), Greg Van Eekhout (Kid Vs. Squid) and moderator Jennifer Holm (Babymouse). Q&A to follow. Room 24ABC

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Babymouse and Lunch Lady on the Radio, July 12!

My sister, Jenni, will be on the radio with Jarrett Krosoczka TOMORROW, July 12, on Katie Davis's BRAIN BURPS ABOUT BOOKS:

ComicCon Smackdown: BabyMouse vs. The Lunch Lady!

It's the BabyMouse/Lunch Lady Smackdown! ComicCon gets underway in less than a week, and I thought this would be the perfect time for a show with Jenni Holm, author of the hugely popular graphic novel series, BabyMouse, and Jarett Krosoczka, the author/illustrator of the new but also seriously gi-normous, Lunch Lady series. We will also end the show with yet another fabulous review from Betsy Bird, from A Fuse#8 Production.

Tune in!