Here’s a simple way to test a book for kid appeal in the classroom:
1) Buy book.
2) Hide in classroom library amongst older, non-flashy titles.
3) See how long it takes for the kiddies to locate new book and fight over it.
By this measure, Capstone Press’s Graphic Library Series has significant kid appeal. I can’t slide one of these puppies into the classroom library bins without a bookworm finding it within minutes. At the moment, I have just a few Graphic Library titles in my class and I would be happy to have more.
If ever you needed to convince someone of the educational merit of the graphic novel genre, I can imagine that these books might be just the back up you need. The amount of information in the texts is considerable, and it is conveyed in a completely accessible manner. There’s a lot of supplementary material that will serve to deepen kids’ understanding of the subject matter and head them towards further investigations: a timeline, glossary, bibliography and list of related websites comes at the end of every book. The graphics are dynamic, bright and the layout is clean and pretty slick looking.
There’s nice diversity in the subject matter (heavily American, but hey, what can ya do). The series seems to have a fairly decent multicultural focus overall, and many of the texts address issues of social justice and equity and would offer a starting place for more discussion and learning along these lines.
I found a link at The Graphic Classroom that describes how Capstone is bringing out Interactive CDs as companion pieces to some of these texts. They sound pretty cool, with animation and sound effects and other features too. If only every school could have equal access to resources such as these. If only…
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I like this test for finding out if a book has kid appeal!
I ordered some of the interactive CDs for this series for our library and the teachers that have used them loved them. The Max Axiom science set is a favorite, as is the Jackie Robinson bio. The kids seemed to really get in to it and were interested in checking out the actual books from the series. Now if I can just convince the other teachers to give them a try – I’m having trouble teaching old dogs new tricks!
Lucky teachers! I wish we had some at my school. I agree that it’s sad/frustrating when your school has amazing resources (often technology resources) that sit around gathering dust. It would be wonderful if there was the time/money to provide adequate training to teachers to make us even more comfortable with the snazzy new technology that’s out there.