Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly. Learn more about Morgan, her works, and what’s she up to at her website and blog: http://morganscomnick.com.
Reading has become a critical study in recent child development. Science keeps proving how a child being read to as early as possible is so beneficial. Not only that, but parents are seeing how much young children like grabbing a book and learning to try the pages, becoming naturals in no time. It may be the age of technology, but it is also the era of books. (Tweet this)
As children grow, they realize characters in books are their own beings, not just a drawing that their parents’ voice. When this realization occurs, children then find characters they want to be like. I like to refer them as book heroes. Sure, children like the story about cute bunnies who befriends a lonely critter, but when they are looking for a hero to emulate, children seek characters with traits of what they know already: people in their lives. But, there is a twist! These book heroes also can do something amazing, something out of this world that makes their imaginations soar!
I tend to think of examples in these early school years like Captain Underpants, who is funny and helps others, but can fly (plus, the fact he only wears underpants and a cape is a riot). Maybe their male figure is funny and is always saving them from cuts or a fear of heights. I also adore the spunky kindergartener, Junie B. Jones created by the late and talented Barbra Park. Junie is not a superhero, but she is loud, creative, and not afraid of anything, causing many over the top adventures in each book. Students may think of a sibling this way and wish to be that brave and bold. After observing a hero like Junie, they slowly become that way too.
I work with seventh and eighth graders, who are well into chapter books. I also work with students who tend to not like to read. Yet, these kiddos have been the new target audience for authors and new heroes are emerging. This excites me since these young people need good heroes to look up in this critical time of development. (Tweet this)
When I asked my students why they liked the following book series, I recorded the most common answers:
Hunger Games series: A cool world where I can be chosen to battle other kids to the death! Awesome!
Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series: I could be a demigod with powers! I can play capture the flag to the death, go out in the real world and kill monsters! Who wouldn’t want to be Percy Jackson?
The Outsiders: (This is a classic, but the students still study it and like it at my school) I can be with my bros, no rules, no parents. Yeah!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series: Funniest series ever and easy to read! How have you NOT read this yet Mrs. Comnick?! (This is basically all I got).
The Hatchett series: Being alone in the wilderness, attacking bears, making it on my own!
Harry Potter series: Wizard. Magical Powers. Enough said.
Although their answers are what one would expect for a twelve to fourteen-year-old, I am glad they are absorbing these fantastical worlds. If they can tell me why they want to be in them, then they are learning the lessons these book heroes are teaching them without them knowing.
Katniss represents bravery, resourcefulness, and is willing to do whatever she has to for her family.
Percy shows loyalty to his friends and family (it is even his biggest weakness), a quick mind, and the creativity of using what you are given.
Ponyboy shows how family does not have to be blood and that he can be more than society expects of him due to his social status.
Greg enjoys his youth and shows other kids they are not alone in their troubles.
Bryan shows how when we need to, we can do some amazing things to survive. He also shows a will to live in the toughest of times.
Harry Potter shows that no one is unloved; you just have find the right people and sometimes, you are given a difficult task that you do not want, but you have to do it for the better good.
(Tweet this: Students’ favorite book series and the lessons they learn from their heroes)
No matter the age, we all need heroes beyond the ones in our lives, known and unknown. We need someone to reach towards in a world that tends to be harsher than ours nowadays. As a writer, I want to make these characters, these heroes in disguise, that can help and inspire young people so they can shine as brightly as they are meant to. Reach for a book, find your new heroes, and see what they can teach you.
More about Morgan Straughan Comnick’s new release, Spirit Vision:
If God gave you a mission, would you answer His call?
The Lord has given Stary, a high school freshman, a mission: extinguish the evil residing in the murderer of two teens—Maren and Umbra. Stary never imagined that her strange visions meant that she was the Spirit Warrior for God and now with her powers activated, she must train to use them and try not to get caught by the murderer who has the ability to hide and conjure up the dark powers from the fallen angel himself—Lucifer. If Stary fails, not only will she lose her life, but Maren and Umbra will lose their entry into heaven and the world will be exposed to the madness of the murderer for the next forty years until the new Spirit Warrior is born.
Spirit Vision is available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo.com, Smashwords.com, and through Paper Crane Book’s on-line bookstore
Spirit Vision is published through Paper Crane Books: http://papercranebooks.com