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Embracing the Graphic Novel

Embracing the Graphic Novel

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

I didn't read many graphic novels as a kid. Occasionally I'd buy a Batman or X-Men "comic book" if the mood struck me and had enough money left over from my allowance. I always seemed to read these books in the middle of the story, and didn't have much of a clue as to what was happening, who was allied with whom, and most importantly, why I should care. Also, as a child, most of the graphic novels I found seemed to all be marketed for boys - I didn't see myself on the cover or even as secondary characters in the plot. I had no one to relate to.

Yet the graphic novel has evolved greatly in the last 20 years. No longer are they "comic books" (Garfield, Funky Winkerbean, Blondie), now they are graphic novels - literally, novels with graphics. The themes found in a contemporary version of Wonder Woman, for example, examine not only Wonder Woman's inherent (and somewhat over-developed) sense of justice, but she is no longer the school marm of the world, shaking her finger at those "pesky, trouble-making boys". Now she is the ultimate agent for change. Female novelist Gail Simone (who is almost single-handedly responsible for Wonder Woman's fierce conversion) said:

If you want to stop a meteor, call Superman. If you want to solve a mystery, call Batman. If you want to stop a war, call Wonder Woman.

This is but one example. The face of graphic novels is changing drastically, and not just for superheros. There are many wonderful graphic novels commenting on everything from culture and politics, to climate change and relationships. Want to read about the childhood of a female protagonist set amid the Islamic Revolution in Iran? Read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Want to learn about dual perspectives during China's Boxer Rebellion? Read Boxers Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Moreover, graphic novels help to foster visual literacy, support English language learners, motivate reluctant readers, and are an all around excellent teaching tool (Sean Connors, The ALAN Review, 2010). Did you know that most major universities now offer courses dedicated to the graphic novel artform? With wonderfully expressive artwork and common themes in humanity, let graphic novels become your new favourite read in 2014.

Who should read graphic novels?
- Anyone learning English as a second language
- Anyone who is intimidated by reading literature and novels
- Anyone who appreciates wonderful writing and beautiful artwork
- Anyone at all!

Great Graphic Novels for Adults and Teens, I recommend:

- Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi (also watch the movie!)

- Boxers Saints by Gene Luen YangSaints by Gene Luen YangBoxers/Saints by Gene Luen Yang

- Blankets by Craig ThompsonBlankets by Craig Thompson

There are also some wonderful graphic novels for kids. I recommend:
- Percy Jackson and the Lightning ThiefRick Riordan's Percy Jackson Series (yes! Now in Graphic Novels!)
- Hilda and the Bird ParadeThe Hilda Series by James Pearson (Hilda and the Shadow Giant, Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Bird Parade)

- Olympians Series by George O'ConnorThe Gods Series by George O'Connor

How Technology Has Changed Our Brains

by Fernando - 0 Comment(s)

It's not a secret that technology has changed the way we do things in our daily life. And, did you know that it's also changing the human physiology?

According to an article on www.Mashable.com, technology has altered the way we dream, our memory, attention spams, our creativity, and sleep cycles. Some studies have found that the use of celphones are even causing what is now known as the ''phantom vibration syndrome''.

Read the full article that explains in detail 8 ways technology has rewired our brains >>

As the Calgary Public Library continues to embrace technology to offer you a better library experience, have you noticed any positive or negative change in your life when using our services? Perhaps, you have already experienced the ''phantom vibration syndrome'' when waiting for our phone call to notify you that your holds are available.

April is National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month!

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

April is National Poetry Month.

Now, when you read the word "poetry", you may have very well thought, "Poetry?? I hate poetry! Bah Humbug!" And your inner-Scrooge is probably right; you probably had to spend hours of precious time in grade school or college (at the command of a sinister and miserly English teacher) analyzing and tearing poetry to shreds, looking up words you didn't understand (and probably didn't care about), while attempting to figure out a "meaning" that probably wasn't even the author's intent at all - for a reason entirely lost on you. If this is your experience with poetry, then I will sing in chorus with you: "BAH HUMBUG!"

However, there is another side to poetry - a purer side, a softer side, an open-form-take-from-it-what-you-will side. And for this side, I will stand-up all alone and declare poetry's virtues, benefits, and beauty.

I have been blogging recently about the benefits of reading fiction (outside of general enjoyment), and many studies and statistics on the benefits of reading regular fiction cross-over into that of poetry: a better understanding of language, heightens critical thinking skills and innovation, boosts reading comprehension and understanding, and encourages cultural and civic participation. And I haven't even touched upon stress reduction and health benefits!

However, there are even more benefits to reading poetry that don't include typical fiction:

  • Poetry encourages us to grapple with (and simplify) complexity - an excellent skill for problem solving and thinking outside of the box!
  • Reading poetry can help improve writing skills - from simple assignments to graduate level papers, improve your vocabulary and your expression
  • Poetry also develops empathy and a fundamental understanding of the surrounding world. Leading corporations and CEO's are actively looking for candidates who not only understand the basics of business, but who are attuned to the people and the environment around them.

Here are some further articles and studies about the beneifts of reading poetry:
Poetry in America: A Study
Benefits of Poetry from The Harvard Business Review
PBS Parents: Celebrating Poetry
Poets.Org: The best way to find poems and poetry online


ALSO: Check out our National Poetry Month display at the Saddletowne Library!

Reading Recommendations - Pre-Teen Edition!

Reading Recommendations - Pre-Teen Edition!

by Alyssa Bradac - 1 Comment(s)

Sometimes recommending books to 9-12 year olds is a tricky task, especially when the power of a book series like Harry Potter holds so much captivation and influence. Are there any other series on our library shelves beyond Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Geronimo Stilton? The answer is a resounding yes.

Here are some book series recommendations available at the Saddletowne Library, fit for the choosiest of pre-teens:

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: The first book in a series about the demi-god son of Poseidon. Weaving Ancient Greek mythology and characters in an upgraded, 21st Century story. Magic, mystery, adventure, loyalty, and betrayal are all tested and explored in this fun, captivating book. The books in this series are also available in graphic novels, and are great for both boys and girls!

Eragon by Christopher Paolini: The first book in Paolini's Inheritance Cycle about coming of age and the embracing of both legacy and responsibility, Eragon must decide to not only save his family, but an entire kingdom...with the help of a dragon. Great book for boys!

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman: The first book in Pullman's His Dark Materials series, The Golden Compass follows Lyra Belacqua as she tries desperately to search for and rescue her playmate Roger - a captive of the mysterious and treacherous "Gobblers". Why are children being taken? What is the magical and mysterious substance called Dust? A tale of courage, daring, and friendship. Great book for girls!

The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani: A twist on our expectations of what Good vs. Evil is and more importantly what it looks like, The School for Good and Evil finds two girls, Sophie and Agatha, in a mixed-up situation; Sophie, beautiful and "good", is taken to the school for evil, where Agatha, misshapen and dark, to the school for good. Has there been a mistake? Or are appearances really only skin deep? This is a brand-new series, and sure to be a big hit!

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy: The first book in the League of Princes series, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is the boy's answer to fairytales. The book tracks the stories of various and imperfect Prince Charmings (Princes Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav) after saving their respective princesses, they must also cope with their own imperfections, various kingdoms in danger, and perhaps hardest of all, truly living up to the title of "Hero". Read this book before the movie comes out!

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins: The first major series from acclaimed author Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Gregor the Overlander is the story of a quiet boy who goes in search of his father, and discovers a strange world beneath the streets of New York City. The first book in The Underland Chronicles, Gregor must embrace his role in a vital prophecy, or risk losing his father and his world forever.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: The first book in The Maze Runner series, Thomas wakes up in a lift, with no memory other than his name. Outside the walls of The Glade lies an ever-changing maze - the only escape is through the giant knot - and no one has ever made it out alive. Read this book before the movie comes out!

Here are some more recommendations for your preteen:
Popular Chapter Books for Pre-Teens

Will the Book Survive the Digital Revolution?

Will the Book Survive the Digital Revolution?

by Fernando - 0 Comment(s)

These days it is almost impossible to get away from discussions of whether the book will survive the digital revolution.

This is Not the End of the Book, offers us a delighful rambling conversation between Umberto Eco and Jean-Claud Carrière about the future of the book in the digial era.

There are few people better placed to discuss the past, present and future of the book. Umberto Eco and Jean-Claud Carrière avid book collectors with a deep understanding of history, they have explored through their work, both written and visual, the many and varied ways in which ideas have been represented through the ages.

In their conversation, Eco and Carrière also discuss a vast range of subjects, from what can be defined as the first book, to the idea of the library, the burning of books both accidental and deliberate, and what will happen to knowledge and memory when infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse.

Looking for a new book?

Looking for a new book?

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

We've all experienced it - the disappointing, empty void after finishing a really, really great book. How do we move on? How do we recover? Where will our next book fix come from? And most importantly, how will we find the time?

If you've ever found yourself asking these questions, worry no more! There is a new display at the Saddletowne Library featuring Quick & Easy reading recommendations from our diverse and helpful staff. Featuring everything from quirky graphic novels to short classics, check out our picks for you! Best of all, our recommendations truly do focus on the words "Quick" and "Easy", so you won't feel the need to over-commit (we all know how exhausting that can be!).

Remember that according to the CBC, only six minutes of reading a day can improve your stress levels and over-all health!

If you're looking to blaze your own book trail, here are some other recommendations:
Goodreads' choice picks of 2013
2013 International Book Awards
2013 National Book Awards

The Benefits of Reading Fiction ... Children's Edition!

The Benefits of Reading Fiction ... Children's Edition!

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

Reading is a cornerstone of education. But did you know that by the time children reach grade 8, their interest in reading outside of school diminishes by more than 60%? In a culture of increased gadgetry and electronics, how can we help boost our children's educational experience while combating an over-zealous obsession with media?

  • Children's interest in reading a book outside of school:
    - Kindergarten: 100%
    - Grade 4: 54%
    - Grade 8: 30%
    - Grade 12: 19%
    *The major decrease in Grade 4 is thought to be directly related to parents no longer reading outloud to their children...

  • Too much time spent with screen media is associated with:
    - Childhood obesity
    - Sleep disturbances
    - Attention span issues

  • Children who have at least 100 pieces of printed material in their homes have higher reading scores than those with less...

  • The three best places to leave books for your children to read:
    - Bedroom
    - Bathroom
    - Kitchen (at the breakfast table)

Here are some articles about the benefits of reading with your children:
10 Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids
5 Hidden Benefits of Reading For Kids (And Their Parents!)
The Brainy Benefits of Bedtime Stories


Boredom Busters

by Fernando - 0 Comment(s)

Join us at the Library for an afternoon of fun activities and games.

When: Wednesday March 26 and Wednesday April 2.

Time: 2 PM to 3 PM

Where: Saddletowne Library

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

We know that reading fiction has been proven to increase ingenuity and imagination. However, according to the CBC, reading fiction can also help reduce stress and benefit our over-all daily health. Here are some statistics for adults:

  • On average, people who read fiction have better:
    - Physical health
    - Empathy
    - Mental health

  • Reading for JUST 6 MINUTES can:
    - Reduce stress by 60%
    - Slow your heart beat
    - Ease muscle tension
    - Alter your state of mind

  • Reading reduces stress:
    - 68% MORE than listening to music
    - 100% MORE than drinking tea
    - 300% MORE than going for a walk
    - 600% MORE than playing a video game

More articles about the benefits of reading fiction:
Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function
7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Be Reading Books
Brain Function 'Boosted for Days After Reading a Novel'

Job Interview Skills Workshop

Job Interview Skills Workshop

by Fernando - 0 Comment(s)

You have applied for your dream job, and you have made it to the next step in the hiring proccess: the interview.

Get ready and improve your interview skills by learning about different types of questions and how to answer them. This workshop is led by professional career practitioners from Bow Valley College's Career Connection.

When: Wednesday, March 19.

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Where: Saddletowne Library

Register today!

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