Librarian Scott Robins on How to Pick the Best Comics for Your Kids

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”—Emilie Buchwald

Scott Robins is the co-author (with Snow Wildsmith) of A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics: Choosing Titles Your Children Will Love (Krause Publications Bookstore). It’s a great primer for those who are new to graphic novels and comics, of all ages.

With a Foreword by Jeff Smith and Vijaya Iyer, of the award winning Bone series, in this guide, Robins and Wildsmith share their knowledge of children’s literature to recommend and review 100 age appropriate books (plus an additional 750 recommendations) for the children in your world.

The guide should easily appeal to caregivers, educators, librarians, youth, booksellers, event coordinators, and other creators.

I expect I’ll be paying a visit to Little Island Comics as soon as I’ve completed my own shopping list. (And, by that, I mean for me!)

Scott Robins and I chatted last week in the new event space above Glad Day Bookshop, where Robins is part owner. He’s also everything else under the sun: a librarian at Toronto Public Library and a past juror for the Joe Shuster Award. He also oversees the children’s programming for the annual Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

In this podcast, we talk about:

  • the process of selecting the 100 titles profiled in A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics
  • the key ingredients of a good children’s comic or graphic novel and how to write for children
  • the sequential appeal of comics to young readers
  • how comics are akin to soap operas and sitcoms in structure and arc
  • how series reading has impacted the adult trade market (Charlaine Harris and J.K. Rowling)
  • how weekly comics are the Harlequin model for young readers (OK, maybe I said that.)
  • the new comic reader vs the traditional comic reader
  • the comparison to Japan’s comic and graphic novels industry
  • Robins’ thoughts on the most successful long run series (Hint: It features one of the most torrid love triangles EVER!)
  • Robins’ pick for a new series to watch out for (Hint: She’s a three-time winner of the The John Newbery Medal, a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children.)

NOTE: We recorded this during the recent heatwave, after I made the inspired decision to ride my bike 15 kms to the storefront. That occasional bit of wind you hear is me wagging my tongue in an oscillating fan. Enjoy!

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Follow Scott Robins on Twitter: @scout101. Read his blog, “Good Comics for Kids,” at School Library Journal.

A manual in how to daydream. Cityline profiles Seen Reading.

This is one of my favourite interviews to date, courtesy of Cityline.

Suzanne Gardner, the article’s writer, is an inquisitive woman, very familiar with Seen Reading’s routes as an online project. She’s also worked in publishing, and has a keen understanding of the challenges publishers and authors face once their book is out in the wild, possibly never to be heard from again. Or seen.

Thanks for a great chat, Suzanne!

From “She’ll Be Seeing You: Julie Wilson Catalogues Readers and Stories In Seen Reading”:

Wilson thinks that the stories in the collection relay a tone of transience, as she tried to pick pieces that spoke most to this idea of motion and that the reader has “been dropped into something that was neither a beginning, a middle or an end of a larger story,” explains Wilson. “In that sense, it can be used as a manual. If you’re a writer and you want to tack on the beginning of the story, tack on the end of the story. If you’re a reader, same deal. If this reminds you of something, you tell the rest of the story. It’s a manual in how to daydream.”

Praguers are the most circumspect of city dwellers

Thank you to Sean Dixon for pointing this out to me on Twitter.

Author John Banville.“Praguers are the most circumspect of city dwellers. Travellers on trams and in the metro carefully remove the dust jackets of books, no matter how innocuous, that they have brought to read on the journey; some will even make brown-paper covers to hide the titles of paperbacks. Understandable, of course in a city for so long full of informers, and old habits die hard.”

— John Banville, Prague Pictures 2003

Listen to an excerpt from Prague Pictures at

Trauma at the Hands of a Paperback

Does anyone know the source for this quote? (Until someone says otherwise, this looks to be the best bet.)

It all but perfectly describes the sighting that started Seen Reading almost six years ago now. The initial Seen Reading sighting was a woman at The Old Nick (Toronto), reading A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews, so distraught as she neared the end of the book that she actually stroked the page, stood up, and left, announcing that she had to be somewhere else when the time came to say goodbye to the protagonist.

You know that feeling.

The Word on the Street

Title: The Word on the Street
Location: Toronto
Link out: Click here
Description: An annual nation-wide outdoor festival that celebrates reading and literacy by bringing together readers, books and magazine publishers, booksellers, authors and many more.

Exact time to follow.
Start Time: 11:00 am
Date: September 23, 2012
End Time: 06:00 pm

Julie Wilson Hosts Dayne Oglivie Prize for Emerging LGBT Writer

Title: Julie Wilson Hosts Dayne Oglivie Prize for Emerging LGBT Writer
Location: The 519 Church Street Community Centre (Toronto, ON)
Link out: Click here
Description: The Writers’ Trust of Canada will present this year’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize to an emerging writer from the LGBT community during Pride Week Toronto. The prize event is free and open to all.

Sponsored by Robin Pacific, the winner receives $4,000.

This year’s prize presentation will be hosted by Julie Wilson, “The Book Madam” and author of Seen Reading.

The 519 Church Street Community Centre,
519 Church St., Ballroom
Toronto, ON

Books will be sold by Glad Day Bookshop.
Food and drinks will be served by Fabarnak Restaurant.

Please RSVP to We hope to see you there!
Start Time: 05:30 pm
Date: June 26, 2012
End Time: 07:30 pm