Libraries get a different read on Comic-Con

Libraries get a different read on Comic-Con
Reading graphic novels and comic books can be a sort of gateway to other materials, says Amy Kleman, a senior librarian in Oceanside. Photo by Steve Puterski

REGION — Last week’s Comic-Con brought comics, films, cosplay, exhibits and notable guests to the San Diego Convention Center.

Some of the 130,000 plus who attended were there to hear what goes into creating their favorite science fiction series.

Others went to learn “how to” tips on writing and drawing.

Lisa Ferneau-Haynes, Oceanside senior librarian of youth services, was there to support the merits of graphic novels in teaching literacy.

Like-minded librarians and educators discussed how to use manga and comics for adult literacy and English language learner programs, and shared insights on how to overcome the resistance to comics in schools.

Amy Kleman, Oceanside senior librarian of teen services, said there are many benefits to reading graphic novels, including engaging all age readers.

“One benefit is that graphic novels are a sort of gateway to other materials,” Kelman said. “I’ve had people of all ages tell me they hate to read, then I show them the graphic novels and everything changes.”

Kelman said the nonthreatening nature of graphic novels encourages hesitant readers to pick them up over a chapter book, which they might rule out as “too difficult.” The book’s pictures help explain the story and engage the reader.

Ferneau-Haynes sees parallel benefits with younger readers. She said the pictures and speech bubbles help kids know who’s talking, and gain confidence in their reading skills.

“It’s a wonderful tool to help literacy,” Ferneau-Haynes said.

Publishers have caught onto the power of graphic novels.

“Many classic novels and historical books have been remade as graphic novels, these can be a great source for teaching specific subject matter,” Kelman said.

The Oceanside Public Library carries graphic novels in its kids, teens and adult book selections.

“In our Children’s Room you’ll find everything from Garfield to Pokémon to Big Nate,” Kelman said. “In our Teen Zone you’ll find a lot of super hero series, like Batman and Justice League and Manga titles.”

Adult graphic novels include The Walking Dead series.

Kelman said she encourages teens to read graphic novels, and chooses one as a selection for the Teen Book Club every other month.

“I find the book discussions and interest levels go way up on those months,” Kelman said.

The bottom line for the library is to encourage reading in all its formats.

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