Stories With Ms. Jenna

Storytimes, Programs, Booklists, and More!

Comics Count


Over at my library’s blog, I posted about why comics count as reading. I listed the benefits of reading comics and gave a short booklist of some of my favorites. I’ve heard too many parents say that comics aren’t really reading yada yada yada, so I’m hoping this post might help convince them otherwise! Read the post here: Comics Count.


Free Comic Book Day

It’s taken me a while to get to writing this post, but this year, for the first time, my library celebrated Free Comic Book Day! FCBD is an annual event held the first Saturday in May. Its largest group of participants are comic book shops, but libraries and schools are welcome to get involved, too. The purpose of FCBD is to hand out free comics to patrons.

Free? What comics? Well, it’s free for the patrons, but the shops or libraries have to purchase the comics from the publishers (very cheap though). The comics themselves aren’t just any comics. They are comics specially made by the publishers for FCBD. They serve as great introductions to series to hook new readers.


For my library’s celebration, we partnered with a local comic book shop to obtain the comics. I selected 14 kids or all-ages titles to be ordered as we were hosting the day in the Youth Services Department. I had teen volunteers at the table with the comics to explain the event and help children and parents choose comics. I had a limitation of one comic per child, but we did have leftovers so next year we will probably allow 2 comics per child.

Our most popular comic was Hello Kitty.


Other than the comics, I printed out coloring pages and other activity sheets from Marvel and DC for the kids to take home. I had tables of displays from our graphic novel collection, separated by genre/theme (ex. “As Seen on TV,” “Superheroes,” and “Realistic”). These displays were important because my rational for bringing FCBD to the library was to increase the readership of our graphic novel collection. I also had a trivia box with the chance to win prizes including FCBD t-shirts, an Adventure Time hat, an Ariol poster, or a Dinosaurs poster.


Celebrating FCBD in the Youth Services Department of my library was a huge success, and I look forward to making it even bigger and better next year!

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C2E2: Getting the Most out of Graphic Novels in Your Classroom and Library

WP_20140425_00620140425181457 - EditedToday at C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo), I was on a panel as part of their “Professional Day” programming. The panel was a joint collaboration between Reading With Pictures and ALA‘s Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries Member Interest Group. Our session was titled “Getting the Most out of Graphic Novels in Your Classroom and Library.”

Our moderator, Josh Elder, talked about Reading With Pictures and how they collaborate with educators and librarians. Check out their website for more info!

Jim McClain discussed how his comic Solution Squad can be used to teach math skills to middle schoolers.

Educator David Cutler talked about using comics in his high school history classes.

I was the public librarian perspective on the panel, and rather than present a specific program, I talked about how I developed the juvenile graphic novel collection at my library and how I continue to promote it. I mentioned the 10 Benefits of Reading Comics Handout I made, and bringing Free Comic Book Day to my library (which I will blog more about after the event next week!)

I had a great time today at C2E2, and I’m excited to head back tomorrow!

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Best of 2013: Graphic Novels

This is my final “Best of 2013” post. Today I’m presenting my top 15 graphic novels for children and teens from 2013:

15. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani, Maris Wicks


14. Battling Boy by Paul Pope


13. Game On! (Squish #5) by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm


12. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Volume 2 by Heather Nuhfer, Amy Mebberson


11. The Misadventure of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso


10. Explorer: The Lost Islands by Various, Edited by Kazu Kibushi


9. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff


8. Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge


7. Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci, Sara Varon


6. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 4 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Sara Pichelli


5. Princeless Book Two: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin


4. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, Faith Erin Hicks


3. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

boxers saints

2. Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson


1. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell


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10 Benefits of Reading Comics Handout

At my library, I am just beginning the work to pull out our graphic novels from within the fiction and non-fiction sections and move them into their own juvenile graphic novel area. To help encourage patrons to utilize this collection, I created a handout. On one side is a list of the benefits of reading comics, and on the other side is a recommended booklist:

10 Benefits of Reading Comics

Encourage a Love of Reading. “Comic book readers do at least as much reading as non-comic book readers, and the most recent research shows that they read more overall, read more books, and have more positive attitudes toward reading.” -Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading

Add Vocabulary. Even though comics have fewer words than a prose-based book, they often have equally, if not more, challenging vocabularies. Children are able to decipher the meanings of unknown vocabulary based on the context of the pictures.

Increase Inference. When reading a comic, the reader must be able to infer what is happening between each panel.

Create Confidence. Comics are often recommended for struggling readers because the combination of images with text leads to easier comprehension which creates confidence in reading skills.

Develop a Sense of Sequence. As with prose books, reading comics develops the ability to keep track of and understand a sequence of events.

Improve Visual Literacy. Our world is filled with images that have specific meaning tied to them, and reading comics makes a child more familiar and comfortable with understanding these visual clues.

Different Genres Match Different Interests. There are comics in all different genres: realistic, mysteries, historical, fantasy, and even non-fiction!

Develop an Appreciation of Art. Have a discussion with your child about the art and its importance in the telling of the story: Why did the artist choose those colors? That style? That shape and size for the panel? The art isn’t there to simplify the work, but rather to clarify.

Great for Reluctant and  Voracious Readers. All readers can become engaged in comics.

They’re Fun to Read! It’s great to read books to increase literacy skills, but the most important part of reading is to have fun with it. Comics are not meant to be a replacement of any other form of story but simply another medium to enjoy.

Recommended Graphic Novels

Grade Level: 2-3

Holm, Jennnifer & Matthew. Babymouse series.
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady series.
Runton, Andy. Owly series.
Spires, Ashley. Binky the Space Cat series.

Grade Level: 4-5

Azuma, Kiyohiko. Yotsuba&! series.
Hatke, Ben. Zita the Spacegirl series.
Santat, Dan. Sidekicks.
Siegel, Siena & Mark. To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel.
Varon, Sara. Robot Dreams.

Grade Level: 6-8

Kibuishi, Kazu. Amulet series.
O’Connor, George. Olympians series.
Smith, Jeff. Bone series.
Phelan, Matt. The Storm in the Barn.
Telgemeier, Raina. Smile.


“Getting Graphic: Why Comics Are Good for Kids” – Parent Map

“Super-powered literacy: The benefits of comics in the classroom” –Canadian Council on Learning

Reading With Pictures

“Comic Book Research & Resources” –ABDO Publishers

“Graphic Novels 101: FAQ” –Horn Book

A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics –Scott Robbins & Snow Wildsmith

The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research (2nd Edition) –Stephen D. Krashen