Kids love comics. I know I did (and still do). I wasn’t much of a reader when I was younger, but once I discovered comics and comic books, I became more engaged and interested in reading. To see the action drawn out helped reinforce what I was reading in the word balloons and narration boxes. I retained the information much more easily. The more I understood, the more confident I became. And the more confident, the more I wanted to read.
pictures. It totally makes sense.
Sometimes you don’t even need the words. Study a Norman Rockwell painting. His paintings had such an effect on me as a child. I used to lie on the floor in my parents’ living room, flipping through their big, heavy book of Rockwell’s paintings. In one single image, his paintings tell a whole story. He was a master storyteller. He’s one of the reasons I do what I do today. In fact, before I knew how to read and write, I would draw my own stories through pictures.
Storytelling, in its most basic form, is a series of images that tell a story. If you think about it, we’ve been communicating and telling stories this way all the way back to cave drawings. And look at our world today—from IKEA assembly instructions to road signs and airplane safety pamphlets; we read pictures to understand information. We know that the smartest way to grasp an idea is to show it in an image or images.
For the past 20 years I’ve worked in children’s TV animation as an artist, writer, director, and producer. More recently I’ve written and illustrated the Ollie & Moon picture book series
for Random House Children’s Books. When creating storyboards for a children’s TV show, I want the panels to tell the story without the dialogue. If you can understand what’s happening through the storyboard panels alone, then the scene is working. Adding the dialogue is extra reinforcement.
In my upcoming Step Into Reading comic reader, OLLIE & MOON: ALOHA!, I was able to combine my love of storyboarding, picture books, comic books, and clear communication!
Communication = success.
Often we think communication is just through words. But communication is also very visual. When we learn at an early age how to interpret actions, emotions, ideas, and feelings, we are set up for success. Through words and
pictures, our comprehension is enhanced because we’re seeing
the action that we’re reading
An important aspect of telling a story through pictures is to show
the action that the words describe. In my comic reader, there’s a page where Moon dares her best friend Ollie to play the ukulele while dancing the limbo (they’re in Hawaii after all!) The images that accompany the word balloons not only show
Ollie strumming the ukulele and dancing the limbo, they show the emotional shift in Ollie’s face when he feels nervous before doing his dare.
So even if there’s not a ton of action on a particular page— like an image of Moon standing alone on a beach with worried eyes and unsure posture—those simple gestures will convey to the reader what’s happening, i.e., that Moon’s afraid of the ocean.
Here’s an exercise that demonstrates how a picture can clearly convey what’s happening in a story.
- Download the sample Ollie & Moon comic reader page where most of the word balloons are blank. Use it on your SMART board, or create a larger version of the image for your class to see.
- Discuss with your students what they think might be happening by looking at the images. Then have them come up with the dialogue for the word balloons. You write the dialogue in each word balloon.
- When you’re done, read the page you created together aloud. Then read the actual page from the book. If I did my job well, you may be surprised at how close your students got to the actual text in the book!
Here are some more exercises:
- Create your own comics page by cutting out images from magazines or newspapers of people in action, doing specific things (i.e., playing baseball, going to the beach, cooking, etc.). Add word balloons and let your students add the dialogue. You can download a page of word balloons to cut out and paste on your created comics page here.
- Here’s a good one to practice telling visual stories, with no words. Download a sample blank page of panels. Make copies and have your students illustrate a story in just three or six panels (depending on the amount of time you want to spend on this).
Focus the students by giving them a scenario like two dogs flying a kite; an alien landing on earth; a crab building a sand castle; etc. Ask your students to fill in the images and create a sequence of events that tells a story. For example—a crab builds a sand castle and then
a wave washes it away.
There are no prizes for being the best illustrator—your students can use stick figures if they want. The point is to tell a simple story in three or six panels with no text or dialogue.
to download blank panel pages.
- Download the images in a sequence that I’ve provided for you. Cut them out and shuffle. Then have your students put the images in the proper order of events based on the clues in the images.
to download images.
I hope your students have fun with these exercises. And I hope they continue to have fun reading words and pictures and learn to love reading of all types! DIANE KREDENSOR is an Emmy Award-winning artist for her work on animated TV shows such as Pinky and the Brain, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and WordWorld, to name a few. Her most recent children's book, OLLIE & MOON: ALOHA! is the third in the series for Random House Children's Books and introduces a brand new format, Step into Reading Comic Reader. Graphic panels and word balloons full of punchy dialogue introduce emergent readers to the joy of comics. The easy-to-follow plot is about trying new things and what it means to be a best friend. Diane happily lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her partner, their son, and two cats that bear a passing resemblance to Ollie and Moon. See more at http://ollieandmoon.com/ and http://dianekredensor.com/.
© 2013 Diane Kredensor. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.