Monday, 17 June 2013

#ReadItMD13 - This week's theme is "Children's Comics and Magazines"

Happily living on Phoenix Island :)
This week's #ReadItMD13 theme is a celebration of children's comics and magazines. Not the sort that usually come with a nasty little plastic toy, and are just glorified TV ads wrapped up between glossy covers, but the sort of comics and magazines that tap into the most amazing resource on the planet. A child's imagination.

As you can see from the header pic, Charlotte is slowly building up her fab collection of The Phoenix Comic, probably one of the best things to happen to the Britcomic scene in a very long time. The Phoenix first caught my attention a year or so back, and we bought a couple of copies to check it out. Since then we've signed up and subscribed, and Charlotte's reaction to the strips (and seeing that wonderfully decorated envelope slide through the letterbox every Friday) reminds me of my reaction every time I used to nip round to the local newsagents to pick up my copy of the Galaxy's other greatest comic, 2000AD (Featuring Judge Dredd, of course!)

The Galaxy's Greatest Comic - Still going strong!
If your children are a bit older, you can still buy this epic comic and it's never too late to start appreciating the sheer thrill power.

Back when I was a kid, comics were seen as 'low brow' reading, always frowned upon and definitely discouraged in schools. Now it feels like it's taken a long time for early years specialists to see the value in comics and periodicals as a way to engage reluctant readers, and deliver a potent combination of a storyline that feels immediate and approachable, wrapped around visuals that spur the imagination into life.

The "Comics for Phonics" range of early years / early reader books from Pearson are a range we've previously shouted about. They're an excellent range of children's phonics books that lay out stories in comic-strip-style formats that feel exciting and nicely paced, for a range of reading abilities.

Comics are great for developing a child's narrative and visual skills. I largely learned to draw the sort of things I liked to draw purely by copying bits of comics and then making up my own stuff. Similarly with stories, drawing comics allows a child to deliver the narrative of their characters without needing to fuss and muss around too much with "he said, she said, he exclaimed, she sighed" - In fact the time honoured method of dialogue delivery (the speech balloon) has started to creep into Charlotte's drawings at school (something I'm no doubt going to be in hot water about at some point! Eep!)

Comics aren't for everyone, and so we'll also be taking a look at magazines this week. Children that prefer a great mix of fact and fiction as well as an absolute TON of content, activities and brilliant art and writing could do far worse than check out the utterly sublime Anorak Magazine - the happy mag for kids (and happy it most certainly is!)

Anorak Magazine. As beautiful inside as it is outside
Developed to be the perfect antidote for those aforementioned 'plastic tat' magazines, Anorak is definitely worth taking out a subscription to if you want a little bit more from your children's periodicals. Every issue seems to get better and better, wrapping together some of the best artists, writers and crafters in the business to come up with a constant deluge of engaging content.

In a similar vein we've also been introduced to the fabulous "Box" Magazines from Bayard. We'll be showing you a bit more of these later in the week but check their website out. They do three magazine ranges to cover toddlers right up to teens.

Story Box for younger readers. Featuring one of our fave textless story characters, Polo!
There are also apps from Bayard to compliment the print magazines. Like Anorak these wrap together a brilliant mix of facts, stories, activities, brilliant puzzle games and fabulous artwork to stimulate young minds.

We're only just looking at the very tip of the comics and magazines iceberg here. Stay with us during the week to find out a lot more about child-friendly comics and magazines as we'll be taking a more in-depth look at a few we think are rather special, and also (hopefully) featuring a couple of guest articles to show parents (and kids) that comics are definitely not for dummies, and magazines needn't be shallow, gift-dependent and destined for the recycle bin.