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IU Kokomo Students Making Custom Comic Books For Community Children

Super 4 is a story about how everyone has a contribution to make, by Paige Eby. (Paige Eby/Indiana University Kokomo)

Two professors at IU Kokomo are encouraging kids to read by engaging them in the content.

English lecturer Kristen Snoddy came up with the idea to have her students talk to kids to learn what they like to read and what kind of characters they care about.

“I really wanted to come up with a project that I thought would not only benefit my students, because they would be able to apply what they were learning, but also, as I said, would enhance the lives of the children we’re working with,” Snoddy says. 

For tips on how to make the books more engaging for children, Snoddy’s class worked with students in Vanessa Costello-Harris’ child and adolescent development class. Her students drew cartoons to demonstrate an area of child development they chose.

“I think it just makes it very simple for the parents to hopefully give them a little more self-efficacy in their belief that they’re able to contribute to their child’s reading capabilities," Costello-Harris says. "Especially if they themselves don’t enjoy reading.”

They talked to a dozen kids at a local community center about what they liked to read, and what kind of characters they might want to see. Costello-Harris says these customized stories are meaningful for kids.

“I think for the kids, especially for kids with ethnic diverse backgrounds who may not see themselves in stories, or see their family lives in stories, I think it’s a really cool experience to be able to have a story about you,” Costello-Harris says. 

One of the kids talked about her interest in horses. That meshed well with one of the author’s ideas to write a story that went against gender stereotypes.

The story that evolved was about a young girl contemplating what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“Initially, her friends kind of poo-poo the idea that she might wanna be a farmer or other things that are not typical of females," Snoddy says. "Well ultimately, because of her interest in animals, she ends up becoming a veterinarian.”

This first year, the classes created about a dozen stories, but Snoddy hopes to eventually have a bigger reach in the community.


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