Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Banned Book Week: Ensuring Everyone Has a Choice

SLJ1409w FT GN opener Teaching With Graphic Novels
Illustration by Gareth Hinds

While I believe parents have a right to screen what their kids read, I do not believe books should be banned or censored. Freedom to read and to write is one of the supreme gifts of our Constitution's First Amendment, and it should be protected.

In honor of Banned Books Week - September 21-27, 2014 I thought I'd share clips from articles and resources to ensure that everyone has the option to read what they choose.

This year, Banned Books Week 2014 events and celebrations will emphasize a thematic focus on comics and graphic novels.


So in the spirit of spreading awareness of how schools, libraries and individuals can fight censorship, below, are some wonderful links both from School Library Journal, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and additional recommended resources:
School Library Journal has two outstanding articles that discusses comic and graphic novels in schools: the challenges they face and why it's a fight worth fighting. Teaching With Graphic Novels by Brigid Alverson, School Library Journal September 8, 2014 relates that:
"...This is the paradox of graphic novels: The visual element that gives them their power can also make them vulnerable to challenges. Researcher Steven Cary calls this the “naked buns” effect. ...
At the same time, graphic novels are increasingly used in the classroom. For over a decade, public librarians have been promoting graphic novels as literature, and researchers have studied their benefits in educational settings.
Image copyright 2013 Dav Pilkey
From challenged material to classroom curricula:
To help educators and librarians deal with the potential fallout sparked by strong graphic imagery, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week planning committee, working with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), has made comics and graphic novels the focus of this year’s Banned Books Week (BBW; September 21–27)...
“The number and profile of challenges that CBLDF participates in has risen dramatically in recent years,” says Charles Brownstein, executive director of CBLDF. “As a partner in the Kids’ Right to Read Project, we are addressing challenges to comics and prose books on an almost weekly basis."...
“Prose books and comics are challenged for the same reasons,” Brownstein says. “Content addressing the facts of life about growing up, like sexuality, sexual orientation, race issues, challenging authority, and drug and alcohol use are causes for challenges. [Profanity] is often a factor,” as is violence.
Graphic novels as teaching tools:
Educators agree that graphic novels are useful for teaching new vocabulary, visual literacy, and reading skills. They “offer some solid advantages in reading education,” says Jesse Karp, early childhood and interdivisional librarian at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City. “They reinforce left-to-right sequence like nothing else. The images scaffold word/sentence comprehension and a deeper interpretation of the words and story. The relative speed and immediate enjoyment build great confidence in new readers.”
“For weak language learners and readers, graphic novels’ concise text paired with detailed images helps [them] decode and comprehend the text,” says Meryl Jaffe, an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, Online Division, and the author of several books on using comics in the classroom. “...While vocabulary is often advanced, the concise verbiage highlights effective language usage,” adds Jaffe, who also blogs for CBLDF about using comics in the classroom...
Furthermore, Jaffe says, the pairing of words and images gives learning a boost by creating new memory pathways and associations. “Research shows that our brains process and store visual information faster and more efficiently than verbal information,” she says. “Pairing [graphic novels] with traditional prose texts is an excellent means of promoting verbal skills and memory.” ...
Sometimes graphic novels can convey an idea better than conventional prose. Ronell Whitaker, who teaches English at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois, had been “running into a wall” trying to teach his students about inference until he started using graphic novels. When he taught Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (First Second, 2006), his students had to infer that the three main characters were all the same person. “This was especially difficult for some of my kids, but when they got it, they felt like they had discovered a hidden message,” he says.
The pull of graphic novels in the school library was demonstrated in a 1981 study cited in Stephen D. Krashen’s The Power of Reading (Libraries Unlimited, 1993). Researchers put comics in a junior high school library and allowed students to read them there, but not check them out. Visits to the library increased by 87 percent and circulation of non-comic books by 30 percent.
 

 How to Head Off Challenges:
“The single most important step to prevent challenges is to have a detailed and comprehensive selection policy, including challenge procedure,” says Brownstein. “Many libraries and school districts refer to or even quote ALA’s Library Bill of Rights.” He also cites the importance of shelving books according to the appropriate age group.
“The biggest step I take to prevent a challenge is to make sure I’m ordering books that are fitting for the age range of the students I serve,” says Esther Keller, librarian at I.S. 278 Marine Park in Brooklyn and a contributor to SLJ’s Good Comics for Kids blog. In the Persepolis case, Keller thought the book was more suited to high school students.
Good communication with parents and staff is key. “I made sure my principal was on board before I even started the collection,” as well as conversing with administrators and parents, Keller says...
Should a challenge occur, Brownstein advises librarians to follow procedure “to the letter”—which can be difficult if it goes directly to the district school committee or an administrator, rather than the school. He urges them to report the challenge and reach out to CBLDF, ALA, and the Kids Right to Read project. “Even if the challenge is resolved quietly and successfully, it’s important to report it to us, to the Office of Intellectual Freedom at ALA, or the National Coalition Against Censorship,” he says. “The more information we have about what’s being challenged, the better equipped we are to respond in a helpful way, and to make proactive tools.”
These are just excerpts, please read the complete article at: http://www.slj.com/2014/09/books-media/graphic-novels/the-graphic-advantage-teaching-with-graphic-novels/#_

From: bannedbooksweek.org
RESOURCES TO HELP PARENTS/LIBRARIANS/TEACHERS SELECT APPROPRIATE GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR THEIR KIDS:
  • ALA has a list of “The Best Graphic Novels for Children” with graphic novel suggestions for Grades K-2; Grades 3-5; and Grades 6-8  
  • No Flying, No Tights  Graphic novel reviews by librarians. 
  • A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics” by Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith contains 256 pages reviewing kids’ comics and graphic novels. Each entry contains an overview of its suitability for kids along with enough information to help adults determine its appropriateness for their child/student. 
  • The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has an ongoing column (through the generous contribution of the Gaiman Foundation) “Using Graphic Novels in Education” which highlights a specific graphic novel or graphic novel series and how it can be incorporated into classrooms (including teaching suggestions and how they meet Common Core Standards) http://cbldf.org/?s=using+graphic+novels+in+education
  • The School Library Journal is an excellent site with reviews and discussions about graphic novels and classroom use which can be found here: http://www.slj.com/category/books-media/graphic-novels/ and here: http://www.slj.com/category/reviews/graphic-novel-reviews/
  •   http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2012/09/he-yes-graphic-novels-should-be-used-to.html and - http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2012/07/common-core-standards-and-changes-what.html are two posts on how graphic novels address Common Core Standards along with reading suggestions.
  • Good Comics for Kids Graphic novel news, reviews, and interviews by librarians and other critics.
  • The Comic Book Teacher High school English teacher Ronell Whitaker reviews graphic novels and discusses how he uses them in the classroom.
  • Comics in Education  Gene Luen Yang, the author of a number of acclaimed graphic novels including American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints, is also a high school teacher. This website is the online version of his Masters degree in education project and includes information on the history of comics in education and the use of comics in education as well as other resources.
  • Diamond Book Distributors has a list of graphic novels they distribute relaying how they fit into the Common Core Standards. The list can be downloaded at http://www.diamondbookdistributors.com/default.asp?t=1&m=1&c=53&s=658&ai=135961
  • There are also books for teachers on how to integrate graphic novels into classrooms. Most that I’ve seen contain rationale for teaching with graphic novels, some sample lesson plans but little additional reading suggestions.  The two books below have lesson plans along with extensive bibliographies and further title suggestions for middle and elementary school readers:
    o   Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning: a Guide for Middle-Level Educators by Jaffe and Monnin (2012, Maupin House) – this book has graphic novel lesson plans and reading suggestions for middle school language arts, math, social studies and science classrooms.
    o   Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels by Monnin (2011) – explains graphic novels and provides lesson plans and reading suggestions for elementary-level language arts.

RESOURCES TO HELP PARENTS/LIBRARIANS/TEACHERS AVOID OR RESPOND TO CHALLENGES:

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·      Read through the comic or graphic novel before using it.  As you know the school/library/community culture, demands and expectations you will have a sense of what is appropriate.
·      Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
e Fund always cites the need for having strong policies and guidelines in place. Such established policies and guidelines make it easier to tackle challenges that might arise.
·      Be prepared.  Head off challenges with research and resources (CBLDF’s Raising a Reader! and Banned Books Week Handbook have been designed and used for just that purpose). Be able to show the values of graphic novels. You may also want to search the title of the graphic novel your’re hoping to use.  See if it has been challenged and why. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has some outstanding resources to help:
o   An ongoing column “Using Graphic Novels in Education” highlights selected specific graphic novel or graphic novel series (one to two columns are published per month – just enter “Using Graphic Novels in Education in the search or click here http://cbldf.org/?s=using+graphic+novels+in+education. For each book highlighted, there is:
§  a summary,
§  a list of the book’s themes,
§  suggested lessons and discussions,
§  suggested paired readings, and
§  additional resources you might want to incorporate in your lessons.
§  Each posting also discusses how the teaching suggestions meet Common Core  Standards. http://cbldf.org/?s=using+graphic+novels+in+education
o   Raising a Reader: How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love to Read! Written by Meryl Jaffe Ph.D. with art by Raina Telgemeier and Matthew Holm, with an introduction by Jennifer Holm (sponsored by the Gaiman Foundation). This publication relates WHY graphic novels are great classroom additions. So if you’re about to head to a department/administrative/board meeting where the use of graphic novels in general is questioned, this is a great resource to share. A free download of a web-ready and/or print ready version can be found here http://cbldf.org/resources/raising-a-reader/
o   “Graphic Novels: Suggestions for Librarians”  with title and shelving suggestions can be found here http://cbldf.org/graphic-novels-suggestions-for-librarians/
o   CBLDF Banned Books Week Handbook – with art by Jeff Smith can be downloaded here for free http://cbldf.org/2014/06/celebrate-the-freedom-to-read-with-cbldfs-new-banned-books-week-handbook/
o   For those interested in Manga, CBLDF and Dark Horse published CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices.

o   You can also go to CBLDF at cbldf.org and under “Search” type in the book(s) you are hoping to use. You will then see if, when, where, and why that particular publication was challenged.
Image by Jeff Smith at www.cbldf.org
Here is an outstanding resource that is free to download:  Celebrate! Banned Books Week: CBLDF Banned Books Week Handbook. This handbooks discusses why books (particularly comic books) are banned, which comic books have been banned, myths and fallacies about banned books, and finally how to report, address and fight book censorship and banning.


From www.ala.org
Thank you as always for your visit.
Please leave your thoughts, reflections, or additional resources in the comments below.
And here's to protecting everyone's right to read!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Inspiration: The Gift of Gifts for Writers

In line with ABCWednesday's Round 15 "I Week" I thought I'd talk a bit about inspiration - what it is and the age-old question, where we might find it.
Found at:  under30ceo.com
 According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inspiration

in·spi·ra·tion

noun \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\
: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea
 Wikipedia breaks inspiration into two categories: "ARTISTIC" inspiration which they define as "sudden creativity in artistic production" and "BIBLICAL" inspiration based upon "the doctrine in Jude-Christian theology"


But we're all different. We learn differently. We work differently. We have different needs and goals. As such, our sources and means of inspiration must, by definition be different too.

Maybe you find inspiration in what you see around you:
From: superstrengthhealth.com
From: entrepreneur.com
 
From: googleapis.com

vangoghgallery.com


Maybe you find inspiration from music? If so, please leave some of your favorite music suggestions in the comments below!

Or, you may find inspiration from others:
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value ~Albert Einstein
Every strike brings me closer to the next home run  ~Babe Ruth
I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse ~Florence Nightingale
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover. ~Mark Twain
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear. ~Rosa Parks
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. ~Amelia Earhart
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh
Eighty percent of success is showing up ~Woody Allen 
Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  ~Maya Angelou
It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~George Eliot
Personally, I find inspiration all around me - from my colleagues to my spouse, to my children, and strangely enough in my dreams.  On one discouraging day, a wonderful friend and colleague, Andra Medea, hooked me onto zenpencils.com. I've used one of their posts before (The Power of Words in Graphic Novels) where "Phenomenal Women: A Poem by Maya Angelou" is beautifully presented, complements of zenpencils.com

In closing, I present another zenpencils post: a quote by author and video blogger John Green:Make Gifts for People.  John and his brother, Hank, are the Vlogbrothers. They helped pioneer video blogging (communicating only through YouTube videos for a year). John Green also hosts/co-writes  Crash Course World History - a series that tells the entire history of civilization in over forty, very entertaining 10-minute videos.

In the quote below, John Green (via zen pencils) offers words of advice, inspiration and encouragement for aspiring writers:

As always, I want to thank you for your visits. These visits and your insightful, kind comments are always inspirations for me.

Please share what inspires you in the comments below.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A (No Longer) Frustrated Cook's Substitution Guide

In preparation for Labor Day and in preparation for the Jewish Holidays... 

...AND...

...For all of us who are missing just one ingredient AFTER we've started cooking, there's hope.  Below, is a great guide, "This for That: A Guide to Cooking and Baking Substitutes. 

Truthfully, I'm not quite sure about all of them.  I'm not sure the tastes will be the same, but it's certainly worth a try.

Now if anyone knows how to substitute less process, whole wheat flour for regular flour, or if you have any great cooking substitute gems, please leave them in the comments below.

In the meantime...enjoy and happy cooking and baking to us all!
Found at http://www.ereplacementparts.com/blog/this-for-that-baking-substitutions/ and Posted by Brian Lopez on May 16, 2014



[Note I apologize for this being a bit wide, although you can still make it all out. For an unobstructed view please go to http://www.ereplacementparts.com/blog/this-for-that-baking-substitutions/]

In the meantime, thank you as always for your visit.
Here's to happy cooking/baking, and please leave your favorite substitutes in the comments below.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fun Science and Science Fiction For Fans of All Ages

For  ABCWednesday's "F" Week and as we fall from summer of 2014, to autumn (intersecting the end of summer and beginning of school)  I thought I'd bridge science fact and fun.

Astronomy and planetary facts and fun:

 Ron Miller, photographer, illustrator and former art director for the National Air and Space Museum's Albert Einstein Planetarium created a series of images visualizing what our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth. Here are some gems, but please visit his website at: http://io9.com/5929076/what-if-we-had-a-planet-instead-of-a-moon

FACTS:
  • Our moon is pretty big - it is a quarter the diameter of the Earth.
  • At a distance of about 240,000 miles, the Moon occupies a space int he night sky about half a degree wide. By Sheer coincidence, this is close to the same size the sun appears (which is why we occasionally get total solar eclipses).
  • Mars, the red planet, is almost exactly twice the size of the moon - so it would appear twice as big in the Earth's sky. 
  • Venus is three and a half times larger than the moon.
  • Neptune and Uranus are more than fourteen times larger than the moon.
  • Saturn is almost 35 times larger than the Moon.
  • Jupiter is the largest planet, forty ties larger than the Moon.
FUN:

Here is what it would look like if Mars orbited Earth.:
What if we had a planet instead of a Moon?


Here is what it might look like if Venus orbited Earth. Miller notes that Venus "would be nearly as large in our sky as the Earth appeared to the Apollo astronauts, when they were walking on the surface of the Moon."
What if we had a planet instead of a Moon?



Here is what it might look like if Neptune orbited Earth. Miller notes, "Neptune would loom like an enormous blue balloon in the night sky. And dominate the daytime sky, as well. All other things being equal, an eclipse of the sun would seem to last forever."
 What if we had a planet instead of a Moon?

 Here is what it might look like if Uranus orbited Earth. Miller notes that Uranus is nearly the same size as Neptune and would provide a very similar view:
What if we had a planet instead of a Moon?

Here is what it might look like if Saturn orbited Earth. Miller notes that Saturn's "golden globe would cover nearly 18 degrees of the sky...the rings would stretch nearly from horizon to horizon.":
What if we had a planet instead of a Moon?

 Here is what it might look like if Jupiter  orbited Earth. According to Miller, "Jupiter would stretch 20 degrees across the sky...This close, we'd be looking "up" at the northern hemisphere and "down" at the southern hemisphere, so the cloud bands would be distinctly curved in perspective....We would not be able to visualize the north and south poles of the planet.":
What if we had a planet instead of a Moon?


Mixing Math, Science and Science Fiction:

The infographic below (How Many Alien Civilizations are there in the Galaxy?)was designed by  Information is Beautiful to illustrate the Drake equation for the BBC.  The Drake equation is a probabilistic equation used to calculate how many potential aliens may exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. Here is a link for the really curious souls among us: http://activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/SETI/drake_equation.html Also note that this is an interactive equation - it changes with different input.  For REALLY BOLD explorers,you can use this same link (scrolling down) to see how it changes.

The Drake equation was written in 1961 by Frank Drake and intended as a means to stimulate scientific dialogue at the world's first SETI meeting. It summarizes main concepts scientists must incorporate when considering other radio-communicative life and is quite controversial as several of its factors are currently unknown.  Thus it is a wonderful example of science fun and fun science fiction:

How May Alien Civilizations are There in the Galaxy? infographic


Finally, pure science fiction fun for Firefly and Nathan Fillion Fans:
An  infographic from: http://www.coolinfographics.com/blog/tag/space

Well, I figure, this is may be more science fun and fiction than you can handle in one sitting so feel free to visit and explore in intervals.
In the meantime, thank you for your visit and please leave your impressions in the comments below.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dastardly Ne'er Do Wells of San Diego Comic-Con 2014

San Diego Comic-Con 2014 was an absolute blast. I had four panels (which I mentioned in my earlier post, "International Comic-Con:Sad Diego 2014 - Some Background and Batman").

This post, I thought I'd share some of my highlights with you and ask you to help break a tie.

My first panel, CBLDF's Using Graphic Novels in Education was a lot of fun, and while there were no recordings or images (at least that I know of) from this panel, there is a free booklet you can download, "Raising Readers!" that explains why graphic novels should be considered for classroom content.  Please to go http://cbldf.org/2013/07/cbldf-releases-raising-a-reader-a-resource-for-parents-and-educators/ for a free download.

My second panel, Kids' Heroes, Capes and Journeys, Does One Size Fit All? was a big hit. We spoke about Campbell's monomyth, discussed how today's heroes do and do not fit the mold, whether our accomplished authors even think of the monomyth as they create their heroes, and then had our  panelist illustrators design four different San Diego Comic-Con 2014 heroes. Unfortunately, I don't have any images to share. The images drawn were then auctioned the next day at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Auction - proceeds to help fight book challenges and bannings.

The third panel, CBLDF's Graphic Novels and their Turbulent Past: Now Classroom Tools of Tolerance was mentioned in The New York Times and audio recorded. Here is a photo of my and my panelists:


CBLDF GN Programming Panel 1.JPG  

Here is a link for the audio of the complete panel - questions and all - courtesy of Jamie Coville, comicbooks.com and bleedingcool.com (54:32, 49.9mb http://www.thecomicbooks.com/Audio/2014-07-26-SanDiego-CBLDF_GNsAndTheirTurbulentPast.mp3.

Finally, we come to the fourth panel, for which I'll need your help. From Snidely Whiplash to Voldemort and Back: They Guys (and Gals?) We Love to Hate was a huge success. The room was packed with people who came to talk about the dastardly villains we all love to hate. I had an awesome lineup of panelists and we talked about what makes a great villain. We then had a draw-off of two teams - each on a quest to create the ultimate San Diego Comic-Con Villain. Our large audience came back with a tie. So here ar our two villain concepts. Which one would you vote for as San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Villain?

This is the product of Matthew Holm (Babymous and Squish ) and Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin):

This is the product of Jim DiBartolo (In the Shadows) and Larry Marder (Beanworld), along with Jim's young daughter's assistance (she added the "Poop" :-D)

Well, that's about it for this week.
Thank you, as always, for your visit.
Please leave your vote for Dastardly Villain in the comments below (along with any other remarks and reactions you'd care to share).


Dastardly Ne'er Do Wells of San Diego Comic-Con 2014...and more.

San Diego Comic-Con 2014 was an absolute blast. I had four panels (which I mentioned in my earlier post, "International Comic-Con:Sad Diego 2014 - Some Background and Batman").

This post, I thought I'd share some of my highlights with you and ask you to help break a tie.

My first panel, CBLDF's Using Graphic Novels in Education was a lot of fun, and while there were no recordings or images (at least that I know of) from this panel, there is a free booklet you can download, "Raising Readers!" that explains why graphic novels should be considered for classroom content.  Please to go http://cbldf.org/2013/07/cbldf-releases-raising-a-reader-a-resource-for-parents-and-educators/ for a free download.

My second panel, Kids' Heroes, Capes and Journeys, Does One Size Fit All? was a big hit. We spoke about Campbell's monomyth, discussed how today's heroes do and do not fit the mold, whether our accomplished authors even think of the monomyth as they create their heroes, and then had our  panelist illustrators design four different San Diego Comic-Con 2014 heroes. Unfortunately, I don't have any images to share. The images drawn were then auctioned the next day at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Auction - proceeds to help fight book challenges and bannings.

The third panel, CBLDF's Graphic Novels and their Turbulent Past: Now Classroom Tools of Tolerance was mentioned in The New York Times and audio recorded. Here is a photo of my and my panelists:


CBLDF GN Programming Panel 1.JPG  

Here is a link for the audio of the complete panel - questions and all - courtesy of Jamie Coville, comicbooks.com and bleedingcool.com (54:32, 49.9mb http://www.thecomicbooks.com/Audio/2014-07-26-SanDiego-CBLDF_GNsAndTheirTurbulentPast.mp3.

Finally, we come to the fourth panel, for which I'll need your help. From Snidely Whiplash to Voldemort and Back: They Guys (and Gals?) We Love to Hate was a huge success. The room was packed with people who came to talk about the dastardly villains we all love to hate. I had an awesome lineup of panelists and we talked about what makes a great villain. We then had a draw-off of two teams - each on a quest to create the ultimate San Diego Comic-Con Villain. Our large audience came back with a tie. So here ar our two villain concepts. Which one would you vote for as San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Villain?

This is the product of Matthew Holm (Babymous and Squish ) and Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin):

This is the product of Jim DiBartolo (In the Shadows) and Larry Marder (Beanworld), along with Jim's young daughter's assistance (she added the "Poop" :-D)

Well, that's about it for this week.
Thank you, as always, for your visit.
Please leave your vote for Dastardly Villain in the comments below (along with any other remarks and reactions you'd care to share).


San Diego Comic-Con 2014's Dastardly Ne'er Do Wells and More