As a long-term comic head, I have become enamored of every type of comic book. I have horror, Classics Illustrated, science fiction, traditional superhero, and tons of international comics in more long boxes than I can count. The one comic lane I could never get in to: educational comics. I love the old Civil Rights, How Toons, and history comic books. What I could not stand were the ‘this is how the digestive tract works’ or ‘let’s wind our way through the eyeball’ offerings. This would seem to be in direct opposition of my cheerleading the use of comics in educational settings. Hey, I’m complex. As a parent, my dislike has curdled to disdain.
A little over two weeks ago, I had the honor of leading a comics workshop with my SIUniverse partner Jerry Ma at the world renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Part of their annual Lunar New Year festival, Jerry and I helped small children and their families use inspiration from the museum’s rooms of Asian art to create their own superhero characters.
At the end of December, Central Florida’s public television’s Global Perspectives program featured a 30-minute interview with cartoonist and Secret Asian Man creator Tak Toyoshima. On the show, Tak is interviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning John Bersia and they discuss everything from comics to education to diversity. Check out the full interview after the jump.
Secret Coders, a new graphic novel series written by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Superman), sets out to bring computer programming to kids and adults. Some people may not know that Yang, when not writing comics, is a high school computer science teacher. This is his attempt to combine his two passions – comics and programming.
Vitals: Freedom – The Underground Railroad is a cooperative board game for 1 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, with a playing time of about 1 to 2 hours. Designed by Brian Mayer, a Library Technology Specialist, and published by Academy Games, Freedom allows players to work together as a group of abolitionists in the 1800’s. The goal is to attempt to end slavery in the United States by raising support for the Abolitionist Movement and helping slaves move through the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada. The goal is difficult to accomplish and people and events can have negative impacts. There are also slave catchers roaming and reacting to movements of slaves on the board, hoping to catch runaway slaves to send back to the plantations.
Thoughts: Before becoming a parent, I organized game nights with friends frequently. Now while still regularly getting together with a gaming group to socialize, eat food, and be merry, my children and I also play games quite often. Beyond the social interaction, games are a great way to teach children different skills such as spacial reasoning, reading, math, dexterity, and logic. Games can also be a great way to teach history.