Saturday, October 9, 2010


By Chris Wilson

Sports Illustrated Kids, in conjunction with Stone Arch Books, created a series of sports related fictional comic stories for elementary and middle school kids. The comics are designed to teach lessons on teamwork, sharing, anger control, bullying, fair play, disability inclusion, gender inclusion, and other lessons through a sports framework. Both mainstream and alternative sports are included:
  • Snowboarding
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Paintball
  • Hockey
  • Skateboarding
  • Soccer

Many of the stories feature an overenthusiastic or even out-of-control parent or coach who pushes a kid to be overly aggressive and win at all costs. After a quick talk with a sage advisor they change their ways and even apologize to the player. Okay, so it’s an ending with a pretty-bow. I’m typically more of a fan of authentic stories rather than teachable moment morality tales or after-school specials, but I understand the place that morality tales play in the classroom especially with younger kids. Considering the discussion of bullying within schools and society recently, perhaps we need more direct instruction on how to treat other people and behave within society. I think these would be well played on the elementary or early middle school level, but I suspect seventh and eighth graders might wholly reject the titles with their eye rolling, sighing and general sardonic teenagerness. That doesn’t mean they don’t need the lessons or should not have the lessons, but you might encounter resistance.

The elementary level is where this series will do its good. Classroom teachers and even physical education teachers could use this series to help instruct kids on the complicated issues of bullying, ball hogging, aggression, and extreme sports pressures. Even on the elementary level we see students pushed very hard by parents or coaches to accel, win and often hurt or punish the other team. Learning to deal with those pressures at an early level can help with character development on and off the field.

SI Kids comics are designed like a TV sports show with stats, bios, and after-game interviews. The whole package is designed to engage reluctant readers in a TV-style experience. Once hooked, it can teach them honorable sports conduct. In a further attempt to gain entrance into modern minds, SI Kids comics use colorized manga with simple panel layouts, which is popular among youth.

Chris’ Rating: Ages 7 and older
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grades 2-3
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 3-8

Lexile levels, ATOS, and Guided Reading levels are available on all the titles in the series.

There are bullies and ultra-aggressive parents, but they always learn their lessons in the end.

Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Sports

Format: Reinforced Library Binding
Pages: 56
Color: Full color

Google Previews are also available for some of the titles.


No comments: