Sunday, November 17, 2013

Comics Relief: Reading With Pictures

Founded in 2009 by journalist, cartoonist, and award-winning graphic novelist Josh Elder, Reading With Pictures is a literacy advocacy group with an upbeat mission: revolutionize the role of comics in education in order to promote literacy and improve the educational outcome of all students.

Josh Elder and his board members (all drawn from the publishing and academic world) firmly believe that children will learn more effectively with the use of comics rather than traditional classroom materials: as researchers from the University of Illinois claim, tales of superheroes can enrich our kids' vocabulary, inform, and educate as much as more 'sophisticated' text-books do, while instilling a love of reading in children who normally struggle in school. Reading is more than absorbing a text: the combination of pictures and words is more complex and stimulating than skeptical parents and teachers tend to believe.  

Conducting ground-breaking academic researches on the role of comics in education, and collaborating with the most talented cartoonists to produce school material of the highest quality, Elder's non-profit organization aims to partner with educators across the country and integrate comics in their curricula. With the help of more than sixty active volunteers, Reading With Pictures reaches out to educators, parents, writers, cartoonists and publishers with an articulate and ambitious plan:

  • Partnering with Northwestern University and other academic institutions to oversee the largest and most comprehensive research study in U.S. history on the role of comics in education
  • Building an interactive database of research papers, lesson plans and comic-centric curriculum
  • Providing educational consultation services to schools and publishers
  • Working with cartoonists to produce top-quality educational comics
  • Helping universities design courses in the burgeoning field of Comics Studies
  • Creating a Speakers Bureau to get cartoonists into schools and libraries
  • Aggregating graphic novel reviews from various accredited sources and generating recommended reading lists for every age group and subject matter
Josh Elder is very active on the charity front as well. When last year the community of Sandy Hooks was hit by an unimaginable tragedy, Reading With Pictures stepped up to the plate with an emergency comic book drive. Over 500 unique donations were coordinated by Elder's organization on that occasion and this year The Reading With Pictures Network will be joining in the national movement #GivingTuesday for a holiday comic book drive. On December 3rd, Elder's organization will start accepting donations for the Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago, IL: new and gently used comic books, family friendly and all ages appropriate, are only part of a long list of needs that Reading With Pictures will try to meet. Please visit the organization website for further details or mail your donation to:

Reading With Pictures
4448 N. Beacon, Unit 2
Chicago, IL 60640

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