Summer Reading: Comic Creation

When I first decided that I wanted to do a comic creation program as part of our summer reading program, I was thinking digital comics. However, I quickly realized that even all the ipads I could scrounge up (this was before we got our brand new super shiny ipads from our friends group) wouldn’t be enough for all the kids I wanted to let in.

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So I put out a twitter call for comic creation programs, and got a lot of great ideas. I even got a sneak peek at Bryce’s graphic novel program (side note: I want to be Bryce when I grow up. For real. That’s not creepy, right?). I ended up with two stations: a paper comic station and a digital comic station. I let the kids pick where they wanted to start, and then offered the chance to switch halfway through.

For paper comics, I put out blank paper, pages with comic panels pre-drawn, speech bubbles, pencils/pens/markers, stencils, and a whole bunch of old magazines to cut up and Lego stickers that we had lying around. A couple kids actually brought the comic books they were making  at home and worked on those for the whole program. (!!!)

For digital comics, I put out our costume bin, and covered one wall with huge sheets of colored paper. (Full disclosure: I didn’t put up the paper. Our summer reading assistant did. It looked great). We used the app Comic Book, which lets kids take photos or import them from Flickr and add captions, speech bubbles, stickers, etc.

I started the program by talking a little bit about telling a story and having the kids think about what story they wanted to tell. Then, I unleashed them on the program room. We had a lot of teen volunteers for this one, and they each stuck with an ipad to show the kids how to use the app. When I called for a switch, some kids changed format, but a lot of them were happy to stay where they were, and it ended up working out fine for the number of kids/ipad. Some of the paper comic makers needed help with ideas or spelling, and some parents stuck with younger kids to help with the writing.

Note to self: This year I opened up all our programs to kids entering kindergarten. BIG MISTAKE. They need to be independent readers/writers at least a little for this program, although I made a point of emphasizing pictures as a storytelling tool.

This program went fine. The kids had a lot of fun, there was a lot of creativity and problem solving with the stories they told. However, I felt really pressed for time and now wish I had taken the time to demo the app and go more into storytelling and comic/graphic novel creation. My intro/explanation was lacking, but in the end the kids didn’t really notice so I still call this a success.

Here are some of my favorite digital comics!

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