Summer Reading

Comics a great way to get young people interested in reading

By Raymond Tyler
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 16, 2009

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Once again it's time for one of my summer reading lists. Unfortunately, my schedule this summer has been busy, so my list is short.

'Justice' for All

I believe in comic books as a great way to get young people reading and to keep them reading. Some of you may not realize that for more than 30 years comic books have been very educational and have had pretty expansive vocabularies. DC Comics has trade paperback books that collect some great stories that are not that old, and great for kids of all ages (including adults). The first I would suggest is the Justice League Adventures and Justice League Unlimited Adventures. These books collect the best stories produced about the Cartoon Network's Justice League series. I love these books because the writers breathe fresh life and much needed character and personality into Batman, the Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman, and also into the hundreds of other characters of the DC universe. The stories generally wrap up in about 14 pages and you can read a quick story or two in little time. The art and the stories take your imagination across the galaxy and back. Most importantly, the stories are just plain fun. You can also see Justice League stories illustrated by Galloway resident Bob Petrecca.

DC Comics also offers collections of other popular Cartoon Network shows like the Power Puff Girls, Scooby Doo and the Teen Titans.

'Icon' or 'Black Superman'

Growing up, the one thing that always bothered me was the lack of intelligent and important black, male superheroes in comics. Enter Icon, a "strange visitor from another planet." Icon is a collection of stories written by Dwayne McDuffie (writer for the Justice League Unlimited TV series). Icon pays tribute to Superman, and also to other sci-fi classics like Brother from Another Planet. McDuffie also includes plenty of new and daring ideas in his comics. Icon is the hero and the book I wish was around when I was a kid.

Junot Diaz's 'Drown'

I found Drown by listening to my favorite new radio show Tell Me More on National Public Radio. Drown is a collection of stories about Latino men. Ever since American Graffiti, I have always enjoyed stories about kids coming of age within their own culture. Drown gives a realistic and politically incorrect look at Latino culture through the pen of Diaz.

Since my reading list this year is a little brief, I'd like your feedback on what you're reading this summer, or suggestions of great books. Just e-mail me your picks at or leave a comment at the bottom of the online version of this article and we'll share your picks right here.

Sherlock's Thursday Nights

For the past year, I've had a great time hosting an open mike at Pratt's Hill of Beans. Alternative Soul Thursdays disproved the myth that South Jersey would not support a weekly open mike venue. Every Thursday we packed them in and had great artists come through. Pratt's is moving and I will miss them. However, the open mike continues now every Thursday at Sherlock's Books and Caf�, located at 45 S New York Rd. (Rt. 9) in Smithville starting at 8pm. It's free, there are great desserts and teas and I'm still the host.

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