By Chris Wilson
For me, school is back in session this week and with it comes lesson plans, seating charts, The Hall of Heroes comic book club, more than 500 students I see per week, and all the usual trappings of education. It feels good.
This year I have an excited group of kids, parents and teachers asking about the comic book club. Last year was the first year and we did not have to turn anyone away from The Hall of Heroes. This year, I am afraid, that may be different as the interest level is much higher. I am recruiting help and trying to make it so that we can have as many students as possible in the club.
Studies are showing the rapid decline in reading among boys. Literacy and motivation are falling. I have stated often my thoughts that educators love to educate the love of reading out of kids. Our intentions are noble and caring, but they are often misplaced as we focus so hard on literacy and forget that the love of reading, the enjoyment of story and the escapism of literature must be present in order to effectively teach reading. Sometimes teachers must put away their conceived notions of what is proper or appropriate reading and allow students to explore story in their own ways.
I've been focusing on nonfiction lately as I have neglected the nonfiction genre of comics (comics are a form not a genre) unintentionally. Boys love nonfiction and I aim to read and review more of the genre in the future.
Bravo on your comic book club. I have been collecting comics for my classroom for about a year now and my boys love it. I mainly have series comics because that is what is so cheap ($1 per comic plus tons of free stuff people want to give away).
I have an after school boys writing club where one of our projects is reading and writing comics. The boys love it! I am very interested, however, in the details of your comic book club. Where do you get your comics? Do you use mainly graphic novels like the ones you review? Do you separate by grade levels, etc...? I would love to pick your brain. Let me know.
I'd be glad to speak with you (or anyone else) about The Hall of Heroes comic book club. I'll email you directly, too.
1) I get some of my comics directly from publishers AND from my local comic book store. I purchase PREVIEWS (from my comic book store). PREVIEWS lets you know all of the comics coming out in two months. You can order what you want.
2) I mainly use trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and graphic novels, but I do have four short boxes of single issue comic books. I buy re-sealable bags and board all of the single issue comics and then have plastic folders for the kids to transport back and forth.
3) I do not separate by grade. I separate by genre and allow the students to choose the comics that best meet their needs. I also make suggestions if I know they are picking a book that is too hard or too easy. Our library (where we meet) also has a chart telling the kids how to pick the right book for them. Some of my kids will check out emergent reader or young reader comics and take home and read to younger siblings. I suspect some just say they are doing that, too. That's okay with me. It's all about reading motivation.
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