Friday, February 6, 2009

An Interview with Capstone Press about their Graphic Library series

One of my favorite non-fiction series' for young readers is the Graphic Library collection, which is published by Capstone Press. The books are presented in a graphic novel format, and they tell the stories of people from history, important historical events, and they explore science and social studies. I have reviewed many of the biographical and historical titles, and decided to ask the publishers about this useful and entertaining series.

Here are the responses that John Rahm, the Senior Product Planning Editor at Capstone Press, had to my questions:

Where did the idea for this series come from?
The popularity of graphic novels was exploding, but they were, and really still are, predominantly fiction. We looked at the trend and thought what a great way to do nonfiction. Kids are reading and loving graphic novels, so why not use that to teach them something.

Quite a few young readers find non-fiction hard to get into and/or boring. These books are particularly good for readers of this kind. Was that your intention?
Absolutely. At Capstone we are committed to reaching struggling and reluctant readers. Not only are these books engaging and fun for readers, but the format is a great vehicle for delivering nonfiction content.

How do you choose which subjects to include in the series?
Many factors go into determining the topics, from meeting with librarians and educators to current pop culture trends. However, there are three major considerations that go into choosing topics: What kids study in school, what kids want to read about, and what makes compelling, exciting books.

How do you decide who should write and illustrate the books?
We work with a large group of experienced and talented author and illustrators. For authors, we look for expertise on the topic as well as the ability to create accessible, engaging narratives. For illustrators, we look for an art style that fits the topic and approach.

How are the books created? Are they written first and then illustrated or do the author and illustrator work in tandem?
Typically, authors and editors create a script and storyboard for each book. Then the storyboard is sent to the illustrator to be drawn.

Do you think more and more houses are going to start publishing this kind of non-fiction book?
Certainly, since we started our line in 2005, many more publishers have jumped on board. Graphic nonfiction is such a great way to bring nonfiction to kids that I expect the trend to continue for a long time.

Do you have any plans to do other kinds of graphic novel style books?
We are always looking to broaden our Graphic Library line. We began with graphic novels depicting historical events and biographies. Next we moved to teaching science with Max Axiom, Super Scientist, and then social studies concepts with Cartoon Nation. In the future we will continue to apply this format to other areas of nonfiction.

Do teachers use these books as teaching tools in their classrooms?
Yes. The format is a great way to bring concepts to life and students love the idea of reading a comic book during class!

If you have a reluctant reader in your home or class these books will be a useful addition to your library.

Thank you John for the interview and a thank you too to Jennifer Glidden for setting it up.


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