“Okay, Mom, I’ll be Zita …”
As my daughter has become an emerging reader, comic books have been our bridge from picture books to chapter books. Because dialog is specifically connected to characters through speech balloons, she frequently wants to read these books aloud by choosing which parts she wants to play. In doing so, she is better able to understand elements of plot and motivation, tackles more complex vocabulary, and has become confident in reading aloud both at home and at school.
One of our favorites to read together is Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. My daughter loves to read the part of Zita--a character about her age with no special superpowers beyond an ability to make friends, stand up for what she thinks is right, and push herself to be courageous in dire circumstances. When I read with her, I get the opportunity to stretch my acting skills and create distinct voices for Zita’s companions--the overblown heroic baritone of Heavily Armored Battle Orb One; the deep, slow cadence of Strong Strong; the insecure tremolos of Robot Randy; the endearing squeaks of Mouse. By combining our vocal acrobatics with the engaging storyline and dynamic artwork that Mr. Hatke provides, my daughter and I create a movie in our heads that rivals any blockbuster.
As she has gotten older, she reads more independently. Occasionally she will see me wistfully look at her lost in her book.
“Oh, I love Zita,” I’ll sigh.
“Do you want to read it together?”
“Okay, Mom. I’ll be Zita. And Mouse.”
Written by Darcy C., Reference Librarian at Central Library
Tips for Discovering 15 Minutes
- With a Partner: Partner your child with a sister, brother, or a friend. Let them read to each other. Ask them questions about what they read.
- At a Restaurant: Read the Menu together. Do the children's activities on the trays or package.
- While Running an Errand: Take a book or magazine to the doctor's office, nail salon, or beauty parlor. Your child can read to you while you wait. Or, take paper and pencil so children can write their own story and draw pictures.
- In the Grocery Store: Ask your children to read your grocery list, labels, and signs in the store. Play a game to find things that they see on the list.
*Discover 15 Minutes tips are courtesy of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.
Image used with permission by Ben Hatke.