Boom! Pow! The Benefits of Reading Graphic Novels

Today’s post comes to us from Ali, our Head of Children and Teen Services.

You bring your child into the library to find a book for them to read. They don’t seem interested in any chapter books you suggest.  They find the graphic novel section and seem really intrigued by a few titles.  You don’t allow them to choose one of those books because you want them to read a “real book”.  Sound familiar? I see this scenario often in the Children’s Room.  A child finally finds something they want but are told that, “those books don’t count”.

Graphic novels and comic books have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Parents and educators often dismiss these books as “junk” however, it is important to see the benefits of reading graphic novels. They are great resources for teaching important literacy skills, especially with unenthusiastic readers.  They serve as an initial gateway to reading because they often have more visual appeal than traditional novels.

Graphic novels are great for visual learners because they force readers to decipher differences in the text format to determine narration, tone, or mood.  The illustrations also help to decode difficult vocabulary. Graphic novels can serve as an introduction to non-linear storytelling. Each chapter may present a different time period or flashback to a past event forcing the reader to stop and contemplate the story.

I think it is important to start viewing graphic novels as “real books” because they truly offer so many literacy aids. They offer the same benefits as traditional chapter books, plus some.  If you’re looking for a good starting place, here are a few of my favorite new graphic novels:

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.  A hilarious memoir of a middle school student who tries to fit in. It’s not easy for Vera, being a Russian girl surrounded by friends who live in fancy houses and go to expensive summer camps.  Her mother can only afford to send her to a Russian summer camp.  Vera is sure she will fit in, but the camp is not exactly what she expected.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson. Thirteen-year-old Bina and her best friend Austin do everything together.  Austin is off to soccer camp for a month, so it’s up to Bina to find something to do this summer.  When Austin returns, he isn’t the same as when he left.  Can they reestablish their friendship?

Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss.  Grace decides to help her classroom’s pet guinea pig, Gus, because she knows what being lonely feels like.  She is determined to do something special for her four-legged friend.

 Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson.  Izzy loves acting in skits and making up funny stories. Bri is the smart one. But she wants people to see there’s more to her than just her good grades. This books captures the angst, drama, and humor of middle school life.

Books About 9/11 for Kids and Teens

Every time the 11th of September rolls around, I can’t help remembering where I was when I heard about the devastating attacks of that day.  It feels strange today to realize that there’s now a whole generation of Americans  who only know about the events of that day through movies and books. Though it is an important part of our recent history as a nation, it is ultimately for parents to decide how much discussion about the subject they need to have as a family. Sometimes a book can be an entry point into a difficult conversation.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey Fireboat by Maira Kalmanby Maira Kalman. A fireboat, launched in 1931, is retired after many years of fighting fires along the Hudson River, but is saved from being scrapped and then called into service again on September 11, 2001. (Ages 4-8)

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell America is under attack by Don Brownby Don Brown. A straightforward account of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Watercolor illustrations show the destruction of the plane crashes as well as the emotions of the people involved. (Ages 8 – 12)

I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001I survived the attcks of september 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis  by Lauren Tarshis. Part of the popular “I Survived” series, the familiar format may make the subject matter easier for middle grade readers. Noah is looking forward to spending his 11th birthday with his brave New York City firefighter dad when the outing is interrupted by the September 11 attacks, to which his father must respond at the risk of his life. (Ages 8-12)

Nine, Ten : a September 11 StoryNine, Ten: a September 11 story by Nora Raleigh Bakin by Nora Raleigh Baskin. This chapter book relates how the lives of four middle school-age kids living in different parts of the country intersect and are affected by the events of September 11, 2001. (Ages 10 – 13)

The memory of things by Gae PolisnerThe Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. Racing to safety after witnessing the first Twin Tower collapse on September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle, having been separated from his family, impulsively brings home a traumatized girl who has forgotten who she is. (Ages 12 and up)

All We Have LeftAll We Have Left by Wendy Mills by Wendy Mills. In interweaving stories of sixteen-year-olds, modern-day Jesse tries to cope with the ramifications of her brother’s death on 9/11, while in 2001, Alia, a Muslim, gets trapped in one of the Twin Towers and meets a boy who changes everything for her as flames rage around them. (Ages 12 and up)

Some other nonfiction titles for young readers on this subject are: September 11 We Will Never Forget  by Peter Benoit, September 11 Then and Now by Peter Benoit, Ground Zero Dogs  by Meish Goldish, A Nation Challenged : a visual history of 9/11 and its aftermath, text and photos by the New York Times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherlock Holmes’ Younger Sister

Did you know that Sherlock Holmes has a younger sister? Me, either, until I encountered the amazing Enola Holmes.

Author Nancy Springer has written an intriguing children’s series about the exploits of Enola, a girl left on her own on her fourteenth birthday when her mother walks out of the house and disappears. Once her two much older older brothers Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, learn what has happened, they decide that the best thing would be to place Enola into a boarding school.

The free-spirited Enola has other ideas. Her mother has left behind codes and clues, leading Enola to hidden stashes of money. Once she has enough, she slips away and travels on her own to London, where she turns her talents to becoming a perditorian, a finder of the lost. Having mastered the art of disguise, Enola manages to stay two steps ahead of Sherlock and Mycroft while solving crimes in London.

I confess, I love reading children’s books. This series in particular is entertaining for adults as well as kids because it is not over-simplified. Enola frequently uses terms such as “proboscis”  and “perditorian” and the solutions to the mysteries are not obvious. London’s social rules are humorously and sometimes  poignantly viewed through the eyes of Enola, who often is outraged at the restrictions society places on women. The darker, crueler side of London is also depicted in sobering scenes of poverty, filth, crime, and disease.

It was also announced this year that Millie Bobby Brown (of “Stranger Things” fame) will be starring in a film series based on the Enola Holmes series.

Kids will love the clever Enola, who can disguise her self so well, she often walks right past her two older brothers without them even recognizing her! Adults will delight in Enola’s interactions with her brother Sherlock, which are written with wit and humor. As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I greatly enjoyed this portrayal of the world’s most famous fictional detective. He genuinely cares for what he views as his wayward sister and comes to respect her intelligence and courage. He and Enola have some very amusing adventures before the ending of the series.

There are six titles in all, and I wish there were more. Highly recommended for all readers interested in mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, and Victorian London.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in September

This month at CPL we’ve got programs to get you more organized, healthy, and informed. Check out our Event Calendar for the full roster of September programs!

Tuesday Movie Matinees

Tuesdays at 1:00PM

Come relax with a good movie every Tuesday afternoon at CPL, no registration required. This month, we’re revisiting the Watergate era:

Zumba for Adults

Mondays, September 10, 17, 24, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Zumba’s back! Our Zumba class is open to adults of any skills or fitness level and is designed to teach the basic dance steps and easy to follow movements. Please register for each session individually: Sept 10, Sept 17, Sept 24.

Medicare and Beyond

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

Are you turning 65 or just confused about Medicare? Medicare can be a complicated topic to many people.  This seminar, presented by Lou Pelletier of American Senior Benefits will educate you on the options and programs available.  Learn what Medicare options best suit your needs – about the many laws and programs that may be relevant to your situation, such as maximizing Social Security or protecting your assets from long term care exposure without insurance.  Registration is required.

First Ladies: An Adventure in Glamour, Guts & Gumption

Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

The First Ladies of the United States, who were they really?  What made them tick?  Did they love or loathe their role?  The presentation is designed to be lively, humorous and engaging by weaving historical and modern events and facts about First Ladies to understand and appreciate the important role they play, starting with Martha Washington. Registration is required.

Rightsizing your Life

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

During Life’s transitions, it is important to consider your possessions and whether they still fit with your life. Learn ten key steps for making that happen. Sandra Wheeler- Professional Organizer and owner of For Peace of Mind will share key organizing tips to help you with any space in your home or office. Registration is required.

Go Paperless with Evernote

Saturday, September 15, 2018, 1:00 – 2:30pm

Imagine having no big filing cabinets stuffed with paperwork and no cluttered mess of folders to organize. You never have to search through stacks of paper to find the documents you need. All of your documents are organized, searchable, and accessible on your computers and devices at all times and wherever you are. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not! Enter Evernote: with this tool, you can organize your paperwork and declutter your life. We’ll go over the basics of getting started with Evernote to create the paperless lifestyle of your dreams. Registration is required.

The Connecticut CCC

Tuesday, September 18, 2018, 6:30 – 8:30PM

Join author Martin Podskoch as he shares his book, Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: History, Memories and Legacy. This year marks the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program  begun by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Mar. 31, 1933  to relieve the poverty and unemployment of the Depression—the “New Deal.”  Books will be available for purchase and signing. Registration is required.

Trivia Night

Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends. Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course literature! It’s all for Pride, not Prize. Registration is required, beginning Wednesday September 12.

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere – What Do I Do with It?

Thursday, September 27, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

Professional Organizer Anita Taylor will show you how to and why of organizing all your stuff.  Systems are the answer!  Find easy solutions and simplify your life with Anita’s help. Copies of “Anita’s Book” a workbook solution to organizing important papers, will be available to purchase for $40 (cash or check) after Anita’s presentation. Registration is required and begins on August 31.

Simplifying the Financial Aid Process

Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00PM

Presenter Jennifer Philips will provide parents and students with tips on securing the best financial aid package from the college of their choice.  Jennifer worked for Fairfield University for 6 years as Assistant Director of Financial Aid, and having been in the field for 10+ years, Jennifer has a wealth of knowledge and insight into the college financial aid process.  Registration is required.

Summers of Scandal

astonished faceIf you’re like me, you’re cringing every time you turn on the news, open a newspaper, or stare at the tabloids in the checkout line. No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, this country’s politics are a mess. While we keep reminding ourselves this isn’t normal, scandal IS more normal to the office of the president than we think.

Remember Watergate?

Sure, if you didn’t suffer living through NixonAll the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and Watergate, you at least have heard the story (or seen the movies) of the break-in at the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, how cash was traced to the Committee to Re-elect the President (Nixon), and how President Nixon was caught lying about the fact he knew about it. A president lying under oath was grounds for impeachment, but Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, before he could be impeached, giving us the never-elected Gerald Ford. That’s the biggest official Presidential Scandal to date, but by far it’s not the only one.

SMarilyn Monroe with John F. Kennedyure, Clinton’s affair caused a major row, but flings among presidents are almost as common as presidents eating cheeseburgers. John F. Kennedy’s affairs were kept out of the press, but half the country was winking at his activities.  Harding, FDR, Eisenhower, Jefferson, and Lyndon B. Johnson were all known to have had affairs of heart while in office, and not one of them was ever brought up on charges. Cleveland, however, had not only one but two scandals that caused an uproar.

Yes, But Did You Hear About That Cad Cleveland?

The first was a secret surgery to remove a cancerous growth on the roof of his mouth.Grover Cleveland political cartoon America in 1893 was caught in a severe Panic – the pre-1930 name for a Depression. Cleveland felt that a president with a potentially life-threatening issue could further destabilize the people and the economy, so he chose to have the surgery in secret – on a boat traveling the shores of Long Island! Because it caused a bit of disfigurement, he attributed it to having two bad teeth removed (I saw a display on it at the Mutter Museum once). That wasn’t the worst though.

Cleveland was president during the Victorian era, whose straight-laced propriety and denial of anything related to sex, including body parts, haunts us in a weird duality to this day. And in that era of moral decorum, Cleveland was routed out as having had a love child in 1874, before he married his wife. Not only an illegitimate child, but he had the mother locked up in an insane asylum, and farmed the baby out to another couple! Even though it made a huge scandal at the time, he freely admitted it, and it didn’t stop him from being elected not just once, but twice, proving that moral flexibility is nothing new, either.

Abraham Lincoln quote: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."Men of power get to the top position by wielding their power, and the office of the president is no different (I suppose we could let Jimmy Carter off the hook. He’s an anomaly to the rule, and no doubt why he was a somewhat wishy-washy President and often considered not strong enough during the Hostage Crisis. People just wanted to get away from Watergate). It doesn’t matter what party platform you’re running on, mainstream or not, chances are somebody somewhere is going to dig up a scandal on someone, and if not, the elected just might create one of their own (such as Reagan and Iran-Contra). It’s nothing new, and it’s not likely to go away again in the future. So grab some popcorn, and school yourself on these hot-button scandals of the day (Check out the movies of All the President’s Men, Frost/Nixon,  Argo, and Mark Felt ) :