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Giving comics a seat at the literacy table

On May 3, the West Linn Public Library will host a Free Comic Book Day and Mini Con event.

We will be welcoming local comic creators to share their work and host programs throughout the day and, yes, there will be free comics. We will have a little something for everyone from comic-themed crafts for kids, face painting, a teen area with activities and a photo booth, to workshops on how to get started in comics and comic book publishing. It is going to be a fun-filled day all with the goal of celebrating the art of comics and the format’s value to literacy.

'Hereville' by Barry Deutsch, for ages 8-12

The comic book has traditionally been looked down upon as having little or no value to the world of real literature. Comic books are often seen as disposable timewasters not as effective tools for learning and practicing reading. One of the goals of Free Comic Book Day, and of our library’s celebration, is to challenge that perception and to give comic books and graphic novels their rightful place at the literacy table.

Comics can be a useful tool for learning to read, especially for reluctant readers. Comics are fun and have the power to inspire a love of reading that is essential to reading success.

Jennifer Holm, author of the “Babymouse” series and other award-winning books writes, “While the connections of words and pictures at first seems playful, the skills readers develop help provide a practical foundation for other kinds of learning. From verbal and visual literacy to critical thinking and memory, comics are a great tool to give young readers a head start.”

This quote is part of an introduction Holm wrote for Meryl Jaffe’s “Raising a Reader!” pamphlet. If you would like more information on comics and literacy, I highly recommend taking a look at Jaffe’s pamphlet, available for free download at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website (cbldf.org).

In recent years, the quality and diversity of comics has also increased making them appealing to children of all ages and interests. The strong visuals paired with concise text make comics an ideal format for children struggling with reading comprehension and retention. Comics and graphic novels are engaging and inviting by nature and, with books covering so many genres and subjects, including nonfiction, there really is a something to pique anyone’s interest.



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  • 20 Oct 2014

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