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Season 2, Episode 2

The Wonderful World of Comics

April 15, 2021

Comic enthusiast, Taryn, joins Charity to share their favorite comic books and discuss why reading comics can be so important for kids. Book Recommendations for Tween and Teen Readers.  

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Charity 0:02 Welcome to the Planet Book podcast. I'm your host, Charity, a Youth Services associate with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. On each episode, you'll hear guests talking about their favorite tween and teen books. Thanks for joining me today. On this episode, I'm joined by Taryn a Youth Services associate also with the Springfield-Greene County Library District and today we're talking about comics. Welcome, Taryn. How are you?

Taryn 0:27 I'm great. Thanks for having me, Charity.

Charity 0:28 I am so glad that you're joining me today. And you seemed very eager to talk about comics. So I'm excited to hear about the books that you're going to be sharing today.

Taryn 0:40 Yeah, absolutely.

Charity 0:41 You've got a couple like one for kids and one for teens. Right?

Taryn 0:45 Yeah, that's correct. I love comics. They're my passion, and definitely my favorite thing to recommend to patrons as well as my friends.

Charity 0:52 Oh, that's awesome. You are the perfect person to join me on this episode. So since you are such an avid fan of comics, I would love to hear your thoughts on reading comics, because as librarians we both know that there are some folks out there who don't see comics on the same level as traditional books. And I'd love to get your thoughts on that. Because when I see those people, I just want to shake them and be like reading is reading. But what would you say to folks who would say that about comics?

Taryn 1:23 So working in the youth services department, we do have a lot of parents that tend to be reluctant, in allowing their kids to check out items like comics and graphic novels. And honestly, there's a lot of science that we can use to back up how they're just as important, if not more so, than traditional books, a lot of the time. They're really good for reluctant readers, if you have kids that just tend to like be glued to the screen a lot, they like video games, don't really have a lot of interests, it's a great way to pull them in visually. There's also evidence it helps kids have a more advanced comprehension, maybe than their peers that are just reading specifically chapter books, because they have that association of imagery that's going on, in addition to the words, so there's a lot more advanced language sometimes in these books. Overall, people tend to think oh, comics, that's like the funnies in the newspaper, which, yeah, traditionally maybe that's how some of them have started. But there's just so much more advanced storytelling going on in a lot of these books. And then personally, one of the things that I really think is significant with comics and graphic novels, as well as they really help kids who are struggling readers, maybe to gain some more confidence. I mean, I've even experienced it in my life where you see a page just filled with words, it can be kind of overwhelming. So when you have those pictures paired with the words that can maybe give you a sense of, you know, relaxation or comfort with seeing that. And especially it's good for kids that are like maybe on the autism spectrum, or they're struggling with dyslexia in terms of that, might be difficult to differentiate what those emotions are experienced by that character, and the visual can kind of help them understand a little better.

Charity 3:17 Wow, that was the best case I have ever heard anyone make for comics.

Taryn 3:22 Oh, thank you, thank you.

Charity 3:24 If anyone could hear that and think that somehow comics don't deserve their place and shouldn't be on par with everything else out there then I don't know what else there is. There's nothing else that can be said. That was great. You brought up so many points. I concur wholeheartedly. Oh, my gosh, that was wonderful. So you did bring a couple of things to share with us. What did you bring for us today, Taryn?

Taryn 3:45 I did. I know you can't really see it, but Cardboard Kingdom, I don't know if you're familiar with that one or not, but that's gonna be from our children's department. It's got a lot of really fun great diversity too and that's a big reason why I brought it. There's so much that visually can be brought with these books. And I think, especially again, in terms of representation it's important to have those visuals for kids that may not really see it anywhere else. You know, it's a great introduction to the world beyond what we know, sometimes. So yeah, I love Cardboard Kingdom because it is kind of along the traditional vein of like superheroes and what not that people tend to associate comics with being. But it's also got a lot of great storylines that kids might appreciate. I'm showing Charity here just a few of the little panels that we've got going. But it's really fun in a nostalgic sense, maybe even for adult readers that might like it because it's all about this group of kids that just come together and they have fun and play times and imaginary storylines that they create with cardboard. And again, I just personally, what's really important to me is having representation and diversity throughout literature and there is just definitely a lot of great character representation here. We've got all sorts of body types, racial, religious, physical abilities, and LGBT. It's just tremendous, like I said, a visual that you may not necessarily have in other literature out there for younger kids. So it's really a funny time.

Charity 5:20 That one sounds really good. I hadn't heard about that one. But I am writing it down so I can add it to my to read list. What age readers do you think it's best suited for? I know, you said adults could pick it up and enjoy it too. But as far as kids, is there a target age?

Taryn 5:36 I would say maybe start about second grade and up. And it is, it's really there's a lot of pages that are just pictures too. So you could probably read it along with younger kids if you wanted. But I'd say second graders would really have the comprehension for it. And the nice thing about it, it's broken down into little vignettes or smaller stories, like not necessarily chapters, but that way if you just want to like take a break from it, you can and you can still remember what's going on. And this is a whole different story with some of the same characters.

Charity 6:07 Well the nice thing about comics too, is that even if they are a little thicker, because it's so focused on the illustration, and they're not long reads usually, I mean, even a thick comic you can get through quicker than say, a really thick chapter book. So it's one of the things I like. The Cardboard Kingdom. Who did you say the author is on that one?

Taryn 6:27 That's gonna be Chad Sell. I believe he's done some other works here and there. But this is like his big one that's pretty noteworthy. And the exciting thing about it is that it is a pretty popular title and they have a new one coming out this June is the expectation for that. I think it's called, Roar of the beast. Don't quote me on that. I should've written it down, but it's definitely coming out this summer. Really exciting.

Charity 6:51 Wow, that one sounds really good. And you also brought a teen comic to talk about.

Taryn 6:56 I did and this one's pretty special to me, because I actually know the illustrator. She's a nice acquaintance of mine. Her name's Cara McGee, and she did a great job on this, I believe, but it's by Meg Cabot, who you may know from doing Princess Diaries and similar books along those veins but it's called Black Canary: Ignite. So this one is pretty fun, too. It's along the same vein of like, you know, kind of if you're not completely used to like superhero comics, it's more like a day in the life of this superhero character. But it does also, it's a great introduction to superheroes if you're a younger teen might be interested in getting into that. One of the things that's kind of daunting about superhero comics just for anybody is that it has so many different volumes and story arcs and it's like where do I even begin. So this is kind of a good introduction to just one of these DC comic characters that people can, you know, read later on down the line, but it's a pretty cute story. She's in middle school struggling with all the middle school problems that many of us maybe have had or will have for younger listeners. And she's also having to battle all these villains, like both bullies and super villains. But she works in a flower shop. And her dad is a police officer and she wants to grow up and be like him. And she's also trying to like figure herself out along the way. And she's in a band, so bonus on that. She's just a very talented girl. And I think it's really something that all ages and genders might really appreciate seeing this kind of fun character coming into her own.

Charity 8:37 That sounds really cool. I've written that one down too, because it sounds really good.

Taryn 8:43 Excellent.

Charity 8:44 It's taken me a while to get into comics. But I think the kind of with comics you have to find kind of the style and format that fits you and and both of these, they look like they're ones I would really enjoy. Now, we all know Meg Cabot from all of the books that she's written. Is this her first comic or has she been doing comics?

Taryn 9:03 Honestly, I believe it is her first one from my understanding, again, don't quote me on that. I'll have to embarrass myself as a librarian. I've never read Princess Diaries. I've certainly seen the movies.

Charity 9:15 Well, I haven't either; no shame.

Taryn 9:18 But I definitely know that my friends who have read Meg Cabot, they just adored this book. And I've had a couple younger teen patrons that said they just loved it. So I'm hoping that this is first of many of this kind of series that maybe Megan and Cara will do or similar titles in this vein where it's not necessarily completely superhero. It makes it a little more like human and like oh man, they have homework due too what's that like?

Charity 9:43 Yes, yes.

Taryn 9:44 Yeah. I think it's a really fun thing for kids to enjoy.

Charity 9:48 Yes. So since you are such an expert on comics, and you can tell when you talk about comics that you love them. I'm curious if you have any titles you would recommend for readers who maybe aren't yet into comics and are kind of looking for that kind of doorway into them. If there are some that you'd recommend for those readers?

Taryn 10:08 Absolutely. So, if we've got some comic fans that are listening, you're probably gonna know. I always mess up his first name so I'm gonna say Mr. pilkey, who did Captain Underpants, his really popular title that a lot of us know and love now, is Dog Man. I think dog man is a great entry into comics. It's hard to keep those books on the shelf.

Charity 10:31 Yes it is.

Taryn 10:32 It's just funny and silly and cute, easy to comprehend, again, this kind of easy to like, pick up and set it down. If you need to take a break, not really overwhelming. Just a lot of fun with that. Some other ones if you're not maybe wanting instantly, but maybe like some other other titles that would interest you, we've got Raina Telgemeier. A lot of people are familiar with her work on everything from Smile to Sisters. And she's also done a kind of a revisioning of the Baby-Sitters Club. So that way, if you wanted to have a kid that's already got something that they're reading with the chapter books, but they want, you know, a visual companion to that we've got that as an option as well. I know the Bad Guys is another kind of silly but kind of action series as well. And then we've got Amulet, which is a little more advanced. But that kind of is I think a good stepping stone into the more like advanced comics later on. But that's a popular one.

Charity 11:32 Well, that was a lot of great titles. One of the things you mentioned Tegelmeier doing the Baby-sitters Club. And I think it's been fun to see the moms come in who remember reading those as kids who seem to be more willing to accept the comics because this is a story that they remember from their childhood. And so I love that she has done that kind of for comics and introducing them maybe to some folks who otherwise maybe wouldn't read them but are willing to because it allows them to revisit it in a different way with their own kids. So that's been really neat. Well, Taryn, these are all wonderful suggestions. You've mentioned some that I wasn't aware of so I'm going to add those to my to read list, and your suggestions for entry to comics. All of those were really good. I am so glad you were able to join me today and just talk about comics. So thank you so much for being here.

Taryn 12:31 You're so welcome.

Charity 12:32 Yeah, this was so much fun.

Charity 12:33 Thanks for joining us on the Planet Book podcast. Check out the library's website at for book suggestions and more. And follow us on Facebook for the latest news and events. This has been a production of the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thanks for listening.

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