During SDCC, CBLDF Board Member Jennifer L. Holm (Babymouse) and Raising a Reader writer Meryl Jaffe sat down with GeekRoom’s Tom Misuraca to talk about CBLDF’s new resource and how comics can be used to inspire kids to read.
Jaffe’s enthusiasm for graphic novels as teaching tools is palpable in the interview:
…“It can help kids with language issues because there is now a visual component to the storytelling,” Meryl told me. “Graphic novels can empower these weaker students to have a voice in the classroom because they read a graphic novel that covers the same topic. They don’t feel incompetent.”
“You can take a graphic novel and use it in a book club,” Meryl told me. “Because now, you don’t just talk about the story, you talk about the images of the story. And why do you think the author used an image to show this and not something else? Why is there a full page here? It’s another form of storytelling.”
Holm spoke to another impetus for creating Raising a Reader: overcoming misconceptions about comics and graphic novels.
“There is a history of censorship with comics and children and comics in general,” Jennifer told me. “We saw this as a refresher for parents and educators about really the positive things graphic novels have to offer. How to build a classics collection in your house. How to read a graphic novel with your kid. How to do book clubs.”
Jaffe shared her own story about how she used to be one of those parents who wanted kids to read “real” books instead of graphic novels:
Even when I was growing up, many teachers believed that comics were not written well enough for kids to read as part of their education. “I was one of those parents,” Meryl admits. “I told my kids don’t think you’re getting that stuff from the library and bookstore. Not in my house. And here I am an educator who talks about literacy. So my kids did an intervention. I said, ‘give me one book to convince me.’ So they gave me I Kill Giants. I was blown away. So my focus on literacy has turned 180 degrees. Now I’m talking abut visual literacy and verbal literacy and how graphic novels are so important on so many levels.”
CBLDF recently released Raising a Reader as a resource for parents and educators about the learning benefits of comics. It was written by Jaffe, with an introduction by Holm and art by Eisner Award winner Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama) and Eisner Award nominee Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish). Graphic design was handled by Brooklyn-based designer David Herman. The resource was made possible by a grant from the Gaiman Foundation. It is available on the CBLDF website and also from comiXology.