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Help Ohio teens read comics in school

Back in March we featured Ohio teacher Chris Pearce in our weekly Shelf Porn column, as he shared pictures of the comic book and graphic novel lending library he’s been putting together for his classroom.

Now Pearce’s classroom is in the running for Sonic Drive-In’s Limeades for Learning fundraising campaign, where he has four different projects related to reading, including one that will help expand his graphic novel lending library.

“I’m really passionate about building up my classroom’s lending library- I feel it’s a sorely overlooked aspect of most high school classrooms and in the past year I’ve had great success in finding new ways to get exciting, interesting books to my students,” he wrote on his blog. “I’m hoping to use Limeades for Learning to fund at least one of four projects, including a set of music-themed books, a set of spooky horror themed books, an expansion of my classroom’s graphic novel lending library, and one general reading project.”

He gives instructions on how to vote for his projects on his blog. And now I’m really craving some Ocean Water from Sonic …

Maryland state senator running on the anti-comic book ticket

Nancy King's direct mail advertisement

Nancy King's direct mail advertisement

Bleeding Cool points out that Nancy King, a Democrat running for reelection for the Maryland State Senate, sent out a direct mail piece that emphasizes her commitment to teachers … because with cutbacks and layoffs, apparently kids would just be left reading comic books, and nobody wants that, do they?

It’s a poorly thought-out ad that, as Rich Johnston says, serves as a “stereotypical attack on comic books as not being suitable to educate children.” It’s also somewhat ironic, since Maryland has an educational comic book initiative:

Capitalizing on a growing body of evidence that comics can encourage reluctant readers to read more and talented students to gain in knowledge and creativity, The Maryland State Department of Education has partnered with Diamond Comic Book Distributors and elicited the help of members of local school systems, higher education, adult and corrections education, and libraries. The goal is to develop a Maryland plan and instructional strategies that support the use of graphic literature in elementary, secondary, adult, and corrections education. This initiative which is sponsored by State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and the President of Diamond Comics, Steve Geppi.

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Everyone’s A Critic: A roundup of comic book reviews and thinkpieces

The Art of Jaime Hernandez

The Art of Jaime Hernandez

Tim Holder offers an initial critique of the upcoming Art of Jaime Hernandez book, which results in a flurry of great comments from book designers, critics and the editor of said book. Easily one of the most informative and insightful comments threads in months, if not years. (Also: L&R fan Marc Sobel offers his thoughts.)

• Along the same lines, Jeet Heer offers an old review of Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz.

Marc Singer talks about why he included Maus in his comics class, and how his students reacted to it.

• Responding to an earlier essay by Jeet Heer (there he is again) on cartoonists’ mid-life crises, Gary Groth offers his own thoughts and posts an essay he’d written on the topic several years ago. (part one, part two, and part three).

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Cool things to bookmark: Reading With Pictures

Classic Comics

Classic Comics

Reading With Pictures is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the use of comics in the classroom to aid in literacy and the visual arts:

Educators have begun to see the value of having graphic novels in the classroom — they just don’t know which books to use or how to best use them. To address those needs, Reading With Pictures plans to work with academics, educators, and publishers to provide schools with the best possible teaching methods and classroom materials in order to successfully integrate comics and graphic novels into their curriculum.

Among their goals are to create a database of lesson plans, provide consultation and launch a speakers’ bureau. It’s a project First Second’s Calista Brill finds worthy of merit:

There’s nothing fundamentally different about teaching comics literacy to kids than teaching them the basics of poetry, art, music, math, science, reading – even running. When we educate children, we are giving them the tools to educate themselves. To find the things they love. To experience the world more fully.

And as long as there are people making amazing comics in the world, anyone who lacks the basic tools to read them is missing out. Big time.

Brill puts it a lot better than I could have. If you have time or money available, consider donating to this worthy organization.

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