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Letter to a Comics-Loving Student February 14, 2015

Posted by ccbooks in Classroom Books.
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In honor of El Deafo and This One Summer being the first books to win in all three top ALA Youth Media Award categories, I am writing this long-overdue letter. 

Dear Javier,

I’m not sure if you remember me but I was your third grade teacher at Tuckahoe Elementary School in Arlington. You were only there for a year before you moved with your mom to another part of Virginia. I was the teacher with the library of books in her classroom, who read out loud to you while we waited for buses to be called, and had everyone sit down to read independently every day. I remember there was one series of books that you read over and over and over again–Bone by Jeff Smith.

I want to say that I’m sorry for not understanding your love of comics and the genius of this series. You see, I didn’t read any sort of comics growing up–not even the ones in the newspaper most of the time. In my mind, a book was words only, and I thought that since Bone was a comic, it wasn’t the same thing. I was wrong. Bone has complicated characters, an action-filled plot and as many twists, and turns as any of the stories on my library shelves. The stakes are high, the relationships are strong and there are moments of connection and love as well as laugh-out loud humor. You learned just as much about reading from deciphering the expressions of Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone as analyzing their dialogue. You were probably my only student who knew about Moby Dick, thanks to Fone Bone. I wish I had talked about the series with you; asked you who was your favorite character, what surprised you and what you thought might happen next to Thorn and Gran’ma Ben.

I’m not teaching full time anymore but I am reading comics! I loved Cece Bell’s memoir El Deafo, the action-packed Battling Boy by Paul Pope and I’m eagerly awaiting the adventure The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks. I hope you are still reading comics too and maybe even writing and drawing your own. I hope your new teacher (and librarian) encourages you and other kids to read and share and enjoy more comics. I’m sorry it took me so long to open my mind and appreciate the value of this style of storytelling. Thank you for helping me get there.

your teacher,

Ms. Cackley

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