Thank you to who?Comics for sponsoring this post and encouraging my child to read biographies in comic book form! Please click here to learn more about the app. And follow who? Comics on Twitter for updates!
This is a screenshot I took directly off of our iPad showing the who? Comics we have:
There are tons more available- everyone from Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama to Jane Goodall and Albert Einstein! I was impressed with the variety of books and I love that there is a company trying to find creative ways to bring the stories of these fascinating people to life for our children.
I chose the "Artists & Entertainers Set - For Children Who Dream of Becoming the Next Star" because I thought Steven Spielberg and J.K. Rowling would instantly grab Aiden and Owen's attention. I was right.
When I first showed the app to Aiden he was instantly interested. He loves the iPad, he loves comics so put the two together and it was bound to be a good combination.
At first he wasn't sure who the people were so I told him a bit about each of them. When I got to Steven Spielberg and said "he is the man who directed the Indiana Jones movies" Aiden's face lit right up. THAT was the guy he wanted to read about!
Aiden had no problem navigating the app. It is extremely simple to use. Aiden has Autism and even though he is 9 his reading level is a little below that. He was able to read everything but did need some help with pronunciation for bigger words.
In his very first sitting Aiden read through 2 full "chapters" all on his own. Please keep in mind that this is a child with Autism and serious attention issues. That is a big deal. The amazing part is that when he got to the end of the second chapter he didn't want to stop reading, he was just tired of figuring out the words so he asked me to read to him! We read another 2 chapters together.
While we were reading Aiden would stop and study the pictures. He really liked that he could "turn" pages so easily and that he didn't have to worry about his place being lost because you can very easily bookmark your spot.
I asked Aiden if he wanted to look at the other books at all but because of his Autism he gets hyper-focused and he won't look at the other books until he is completely done the Steven Spielberg one.
Here is what Aiden told me when I asked him to give me a review:
"I love the Steven Spielberg comic. I like that it is real information like you would read in a book or at school or something but it is interesting like a story. I really like this one because I think Steven Spielberg is a little bit like me. Maybe I can make movies someday too. That would be so cool!!! I didn't know that Steven Spielberg got bullied when he was a kid. I bet those guys that did that feel pretty stupid now that they know that he is way cooler than them. I think it is cool that he gets to make movies. But people didn't know how smart he was did they? But they know now."
How's that for some insight? You bet they know now Aiden!! And I'm sure those kids that bullied Steven Spielberg do indeed feel pretty stupid about that now. Moral of the story? Don't be a bully. You never know what that person is going to do someday!
As an aside- when you have a kid with Autism it is pretty spectacular when that child finds someone who has done amazing things- someone like Spielberg- and says "hey, that guys seems a little like me. Maybe I can do amazing things too." I had a pretty hard time not crying. So thanks who? Comics (& Steven Spielberg) for that very special mama moment for me :).
Anyway, the proof that Aiden genuinely likes this app is that when he woke up this morning the FIRST thing he did was pick up the iPad, sit down and start reading the who? Comic right where we left off last night. He wanted to do that INSTEAD of watching cartoons.
Oh yes he did!!
Today after school I decided to give my other son Owen a chance to check out the app. Owen is a HUGE Harry Potter fan and when he saw JK Rowling's name on the list he recognized it right away and was very excited.
Owen is 8 and was able to use the app no problem as well. Owen is an excellent reader and said that the comic was "really easy" to read. I watched him zip through pages with ease and he began to tell me some of the things he was learning as he read. "Hey mom, did you know that JK Rowling did such and such" or "Mom, look at this!". Those are all good signs that a kid is learning!
Owen has ADHD and I think the fact that the books are in comic form and on the iPad make them far more interesting to him. That being said Owen read the first two chapters and then wanted to see what the other books were about as well.
I think he took a look at all the books we have on our "bookshelf" before it was time to put the iPad away for the night.
I asked Owen if he could give me a review of the app and he said "it's cool mom!". Not very wordy but it gets the point across!
I had my husband take a look at the app too just to get his opinion and this is what he had to say:
I thought the art work was good, the stories were easy to read. The points of the story that are awkward are not left out but addressed in a way that is honest. The drawings are bright, simple, and highlight the story well.
The app itself is easy to use and tries to reward you for using and learning the features that are not immediately visible. There are badges for doing things like using the bookmarking feature for the first time and for clicking on the 'timeline' page that's included with each book but not a part of the manuscript. The app is easy to use and fun to explore.
The "awkward" parts of stories that he is talking about are the parts like where Van Gogh cuts off his own ear and then commits suicide. Ya. That stuff is not left out but it IS dealt with in a very respectful, non-graphic, non-sensational way. The comics tell the truth without being gory or scary.
That being said these are not comic books for young children- I wouldn't be comfortable letting Olivia (age 5) listen in to some parts of them for example.
I am very impressed with this app! It is educational in an entertaining and engaging way. I am happy to recommend this to anyone who is looking for creative ways to share some inspiring biographies with their kids.