Reading With Pictures Volume One is the first release from the Chicago-based non-profit organization headed by executive director Josh Elder. Founded in 2009, RWP’s mission is to act as a resource and advocacy group for comics in the classroom. Their planned projects include coordinating research into the role of comics in education, establishing a searchable database for studies, essays, and study guides, and publishing collections of educational comics.
Volume One collects over thirty self-contained stories of full-color kid-friendly comics. It’s a full spectrum of stories, from superhero adventures to personal stories, and the art runs from cartoony to detailed. Several of the stories are about comics themselves, including an anecdotal story from Raina Telgemeier teaching a class on making comics and a story by Tory Woollcott about a girl with a learning disability learning to read using comics. In a fantastic story by David Faroz Precht with stellar artwork by Cho Youn Chul, Precht tells about how living in Korea changed the way he thought about communicating with pictures.
Other contributors include the “Unshelved” team of Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, autobiographical cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, Action Philosophers creators Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, Jim “Amelia Rules” Gownley, and many more, all wrapped up under a fantastic Jill Thompson cover.
As RWP intend, their first book makes for an excellent classroom accessory. The variety of stories means that any kid can find something to read, and it can give teachers an insight into what kinds of comics and graphic novels their students would be most interested in learning from (or making themselves!) It’s also something that would make a great gift for a kid just getting into comics or learning to read. Parents and educators can also benefit from reading the book; not just because the stories are in fact really good, but also to get a sense of what comics and creators there are that kids can enjoy and learn from. Of course, you can also buy it and just enjoy it for the cracking good stories yourself; a little selfish comic book reading never hurt anyone. It’s a stand-out collection that should be on every bookstore and library shelf.
Reading With Pictures Volume One is available through Diamond Distributors (order code JUN101096) as well as through the official Reading With Pictures website, where sample pages are available for viewing. Via the website, educators will be able to purchase classroom copies at a special discount. The first volume is self-published through the organization, but they are looking for a publisher to work with on producing further volumes. Interested parties are invited to contact executive director Josh Elder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Baldino lives and writes in Chicago, where he watches over the local comics scene like a posthuman autocrat. His fiction and journalism has appeared in many publications internationally. He can be contacted at email@example.com