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    Entries in comics (5)


    2016 Lenski Children's Literature Lecture on History of comics, children & libraries

    Comics and young readers will be examined
    by Carol Tilley for the 2016 Lois Lenski Children’s Literature

    Illinois State University’s annual Lois Lenski Children’s Literature Lecture will feature Carol Tilley, a professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who will present “A Severe Case of Comics: Looking Back at the Problem That Wasn’t.” Her talk will be held Monday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in Stevenson Hall, Room 101.

    Tilley is an associate professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UI-UC. She is a nationally recognized expert on children’s comics and comic book history. Her research on comic archenemy Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent (1954), has been featured in The New York Times and will be a part of her presentation. Tilley has recently been awarded the Arnold O. Beckman Award for her current research project, “Children, Comics, and Print Culture: A Historical Investigation.”  Tilley teaches courses on the readership of comics, media literacy, and youth services librarianship.

    Approaching comics from a variety of perspectives, Tilley’s scholarship has appeared in Children’s Literature in Education, Information & Culture: A Journal of History, and The Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.  Tilley’s research focuses on the intersection of young people, comics, and libraries, particularly in the United States during the mid-20th century.

    Professor Tilley is affiliated with the Center for Children's Books and the Center for Writing Studies and is the co-editor of School Library Research.  Tilley earned a Master’s of Library Science and a Ph. D. in Information Science from Indiana University.

    The annual Lois Lenski Children’s Literature Lecture is co-sponsored by ISU Department of English and Milner Library. The presentation is open to the public. 


    Comics philosophy & practice conference

    Amazing conference at University of Chicago on comics organized by Hillary Chute and the U of C. A few more sessions tomorrow morning. Great hearing Art Spiegelman, R. Crumb and his wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Francoise Mouly, Chris ware, Dan Clowes and now going to hear Alison Bechdel.


    Graphic novel interview in ISU Report newsletter

    Okay, it is rather cool to be featured in an article in ISU's Report Newsletter.  The article is about the Comics and Graphic Novels class I'm teaching again this spring, and still enjoying teaching it.  Here's a link to the article "Susina on the evolution of the graphic novel."



    Fewer children's picture books being published

    In "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children," an article in today's New York Times, a few bookpublishers, writers, and parents observe that there's a trend to leave behind picture books for the "challenge" of chapter books.  Is this a good trend?  I'm not so sure.

    Picture books often are more engaging and interesting than some of the chapter books that may appear more "grown up" to adults and the kids whom they are encouraging to read.  I think this observation is correct:

    “To some degree, picture books force an analog way of thinking,” said Karen Lotz, the publisher of Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass. “From picture to picture, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes.”

    Picture books involve children's and adults' imagination, enable everyone to develop storytelling skills, and enhance visual literacy.  I think that developing visual literacy and understanding children's visual culture is so important that I'm teaching a graduate course on that this semester.

    I do think that publishers are making a mistake of publishing many picture books in hard cover with a high price tag.  The marketing format of Golden Books -- good books at low price points that are sold at the checkout counter or other easy to find places -- should be followed again today.  Too often big stores, such as Target and Wal-Mart, sell primarily TV and movie tie-ins or extremely popular books.  Children's book publishers should be more aggressive in promoting inexpensive, high-quality picture books in paperback to these types of stores.  Scholastic does this in schools, but many pre-schools don't have the Scholastic connections.  Grandparents and aunts and uncles also usually don't get the Scholastic fliers.  Scholastic, of course, has its own consumeristic tendencies, but at least it always sells a few books that are priced at $5 or less.

    The tendency for parents to think that chapter books are better than picture books suggests, perhaps, that parents aren't reading all of the popular chapter books, either.  Instead of reading another Magic Tree House book, parents, teachers, and librarians should make the effort to get elementary school kids to read engaging non-fiction picture books -- such as The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley and drawings by Brian Selznick, The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Greg Couch, or books by the incredibly imaginative Peter Sis, such as The Three Golden Keys and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. Or here's a good link from a recent School Library Journal article on "Inventions: Waiting for Eureka" that mentions several similar type books including The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton illustrated by Tony Persiani, which was a fun read, and Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully.

    It's curious that at the same time that there's an interest by male readers 18-34 in graphic novels and comics, the adults that are guiding the youngest readers are insisting that books that comprise mainly of text are the way to go.  But readers of graphic novels and comics are clearly sensitive to price points, as yesterday's report at New York's Comic-Con on these readers has noted. It's curious that just a 20 cent change in price point causes a significant decrese in purchases: "The complaint of high prices was discussed as well, along with the statistics that the average cover price of a comic book in the second quarter of 2010 is now $3.53, up from $3.38 in 2009."  Maybe the picture book publishers should take heed and publish more paper backs at more reasonable prices.

    Because, like it or not, we live in a culture that's as much visual driven as word driven. Kids instinctively know that. To take away their ability to learn through picture books that combine visuals and words for chapter books seems counter-intuitive by adults.


    Canadians' report on boys and comics

    Is it good or appropriate for boys to read comics?  Is reading comics really 'reading'?  The debate continues with the Canadian Council on Learning weighing in with a report last month about the positive experience of kids reading comics.  The report specifically notes: "Despite their controversial past, comics have become a pervasive and undeniable aspect of popular culture. It is clear that they appeal to younger readers—particularly boys—who are often resistant to reading."

    The report, "More than just funny books: Comics and prose literacy for boys", observes that boys are interested in and read about different subjects than what are traditionally considered 'reading.' The authors write, "Boys also tend to prefer visual media, such as the internet, newspapers and magazines, that focus on sports, electronics and video games. Yet, 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."

    The Carolina Online Journal, based in Charlotte, did a follow up report and found librarians who were dismissive of comics, and a few who understood their appeal. In the article that's published today, Hal Young also interviewed a psychologist who's concerned about the limited role models in comics when transferred to film while a special education teacher understood that comics are much broader in scope than they initially may appear.  The teacher cited Max Axiom: Super Scientist comics as some that have particular appeal while also teaching about science.

    It seems that the question continues of what constitutes 'real' or 'appropriate' reading. Yet, the problem remains that boys continue to lag behind girls in reading scores.  Here are a few links on the difference in reading skills of boys and girls:

    The curious debate about comic books continues as boys still struggle with reading and could benefit from looking at texts with images.

    Thanks to Chester Comix for the link to the Carolina article.