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Comics in New Brunswick (Can.) Schools: A community project

October 22, 2005

One of the early links in the chain of events that set this whole web site rolling is a little community project that a teacher friend and I began at the beginning of this school year (2005-2006).   It is a simple little project that has had high return and little output other than commitment and a belief that what you are doing is going to help kids love reading.

At the end of August this year my school district brought in David Booth, a well known and respected authority on boys' literacy.   He stressed that we as educators and parents need to value the kind of print that boys are reading, because most read something, or we will never convince them to read the things we want them to be interested in, like novels.   Graphic Novels (comics in traditional book form) were singled out as being very important to boys (girls as well, but the seminar was focused mainly on boys) and so they should be important to us as teachers and parents.

Fueled by this seminar Nathan MacDonald, an alternate education high school teacher and I, a primary teacher at a rural K-8 decided to start a community project aimed at getting Graphic Novels and comics into our schools.   I had been using comics as story starters for a year or two, and Nathan had, at one time, a couple of G.N.'s , but neither of us had any to put into the hands of our kids, but both of us believed that they could be used to encourage reluctant readers to read and to offer variety to our more willing readers.   We visited the comic shops and one major book store that carried GNs in our city and told the managers about the speaker that we had and that we wanted to give them the opportunity to contribute to our goal of getting appropriate comics into our schools to encourage literacy.   We were braced for a friendly, but negative response, but were blown away by the enthusiasm with wich two of the shops showed towards our project.   To date we have received well over 500 dollars worth of contributions from the two stores.   We were thinking that we might get a stack of back issues, which we got, but we were also given over twenty graphic novels and trade paper backs (square-bound bookshelf collections of books previously released in regular comic form like GNs ).   This library of books will now be offered to interested students based on the appropriateness of the book to the student's age.

This is only the beginning.   For instance, Scholastic has thrown their considerable weight behind GNs , offering a number of quality titles ( eg . Bone by Jeff Smith) through their Arrow (gr. 4-8) book club.   Teachers / parents, give this a try.   Retailers, if no one asks talk to your customers.   There has to be a teacher amongst them.   Everyone wants in the industry wants to know how to get kids reading comics.   Here's one way to start.

Special thanks go to Mad City Comics (in United Book Store) and The Comic Hunter of Moncton , New Brunswick for their generous contributions to this project.




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