Testimonials from parents, educators and bloggers have been pouring into the TOON Books office lately, and we’re so proud of the reactions our kids’ comics elicit that we have to share some with you. For two years, after all, we’ve promised our audience that the comic format of TOON titles is not just perfect for early readers but especially fit for children termed “reluctant readers.” (This blanket term refers to kids who struggle with finding books they like or that they can even read. As Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney explains, of course, this term often is simply “a code word for ‘boys.’”) We have always believed that comics contain a thrilling, multi-modal language that is uniquely able to enthrall boys, who may otherwise be isolated from the soft, pink, shimmery world of children’s literature like The Babysitter’s Club, and children with learning difficulties who might have difficulty grasping the unconnected words and images in standard picture books. Experts like Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, have attested to comics’ power. Now parents are vouching for kids’ comics, too!
Karin McGaughey wrote in to say: “My son, Roy, was an early talker. At the age of 20 months, he used 10x the words that the baby books said he should know. But when he got to school, reading was a different matter. By the time he got to second grade, where he had 1/2 hour of reading every night as his homework, he would get so frustrated that he literally said, ‘I HATE reading!’ His school had him tested and found out that he has pretty severe visual processing issues. He’s started working with a special ed teacher. A few weeks ago, we were on our way out the door to go to school, and he said he forgot something. He ran back in the house and grabbed Stinky. He said he wanted to read it in the car on the way to school. I was so happy I almost cried. He loves the humor and the story. The comic format really helps him decode the meaning of the words when he is stuck on something. We have several other books from TOON Books and Roy loves them. Thank you guys!”
Blogger Danigirl’s young boys poring over the new TOON releases.
Danigirl, a blogger from Ottawa, recently posted about her boys’ enthusiasm for the newest season of TOON Books, Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker and Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework. She says, “We’d stopped at the mail box on our habitual after-dinner walk, and the boys were delighted to hear that [the] new books had arrived. We didn’t even make it into the house…Tristan had read Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by the time they crawled into bed that night while Beloved and Simon (in senior kindergarten) read Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker together. These are wonderful little books! They’re hardcover, intelligent, well-drawn and engaging — what else could you possibly want from a book? When I asked Tristan what he liked best about Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, he said he liked the story and found the animal facts at the end of the book very interesting. He was quite concerned, in fact, that I might give away his copy by mistake — he wanted to make sure he could keep it so he could read it again later.”
“If your child is a beginning reader,” Danigirl writes, ” you know how empowering it is for a child to be able to read an entire book on his or her own.” And it’s even more of a joy to hear that child ask to read a book over and over again. Elementary-school teacher Darsa Morrow knows that feeling well; she writes on her blog about her kindergartner that “A few months ago, Toby checked out Benny and Penny in Just Pretend by Geoffrey Hayes from the school library. He (or we) read it at least once a day for two weeks…It wasn’t until we got the third book, Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker, that I realized these were comic books. I know, it is hardly a surprise that kids like comic books. Max was very into the Bone series for a while…and both Max and Toby love all of my old Calvin and Hobbes anthologies. But I’ve never come across comic books like the Benny and Penny books. These are bound like regular books with hard covers and so are very durable. The stories are exactly right for early readers, unlike, for example, Calvin and Hobbes. (I started questioning my wisdom in sharing those books after Max and Toby locked me out of our hotel room so that they could eat all of the cookies…and then said they got the idea from Calvin and Hobbes.) And, of course, with comic books, there are many pictures per page to help provide visual support for the story…even if a child could only read a few of the words, there is enough action in the pictures in the Benny and Penny comics that the story would be easily understood. ‘I love the pictures so much. The mice are so cute!’ said Toby when I asked him why he was first interested in the Benny and Penny books. After reading the newest one, The Toy Breaker, Toby said he thought all of the arguing was funny and also liked how Cousin Bo finally learned how to play nicely. He recommends it for ‘anyone who likes to read.’”
We agree with Toby that “anyone who likes to read” will love TOON Books. In fact, we’ll take it one step further–anyone who DOESN’T like to read will love TOON Books! Dynamic illustrations, top-notch writing, word balloons, sound effects, and paneling combine to make our comics some of the most engaging reads around. If you won’t take these parents’ word for it, then show your own early reader our books with the TOON Book Reader. Every book we’ve published is available online for free with English narration by its creator and narration in Spanish, French, Chinese or Russian by trained voice actors. Mary Ann Scheuer, a Californian librarian, says of the Reader that it’s “a fantastic online site that helps bring comics alive for young kids, while teaching them important reading skills.” And keeping comics alive and educational for kids–for every kid–is exactly what we at TOON set out to do.