On Sunday, April 25, I'll be in Chicago for the 55th Annual Convention of the International Reading Association (IRA). Technically, I'll be there before the convention, which formally starts Monday. As part of the program, the IRA hosts all-day pre-conference "Institutes" that allow groups of presenters to treat single topics in depth. I'll be a panelist on the topic of "Teaching Reading With Graphic Novels: Building on IRA's Definition of ELA as Visualizing and Visually Representing." I understand the first five words of that title; after that I get a little woozy.
This institute was organized by Dr. Katie Monnin, an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida as well as
an author and comics lover who's become an Internet buddy of mine (I drew the caricature of her at that second link, by the way). The annual IRA conference is a big deal in the book world, and I'm honored to participate in my small way. Given the topic, I think I can draw on both Mom's Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow to talk about graphic novels and literacy, and how
Words + Pictures can sometimes provide a richer reading and learning experience than words alone.
Then on June 17, I'll be in London for a one-day conference on "Graphic Medicine" organized by Dr. Ian Williams. Now this is going to be really something! I'll be one of three keynote speakers talking to a group of about 75 medical professionals, sharing whatever insights I can offer as a result of my experience with Mom's Cancer. Ian has gone to a great deal of trouble to get me there, and I'm determined to make it worth his while. Plus I've never been to London, so Karen is coming along and we'll make a little vacation of it.
One of the most rewarding things I've ever done was a talk I gave to a group of healthcare professionals in Tucson a few years ago. Some of them came up afterward and said they were going to change the way they did their jobs as a result. Wow. Of course I can't expect to get that kind of reaction in London, but having a chance to tell Mom's story to a group of people who can actually apply it to patient care is a very powerful legacy. It would have meant a lot to her.
In anticipation of that conference, this week's issue of the British Medical Journal features a cover story on "The Use of Comics in Medical Education and Patient Care" by Michael Green and Kimberly Myers of the Penn State College of Medicine. The article, which highlights Mom's Cancer, isn't available online and I can't reprint it here, but the abstract will give you some flavor. What a wonderful coincidence (?) that every physician in the UK is reading that article just three months before a conference on the subject. (That question mark means that I truly don't know whether it's a coincidence. If it is, it's a good one.)
A friend recently e-mailed to ask some sincere questions about what it's like to be published and get a little recognition for it. Like everything, it has its pros and cons. Doing events like these is a big pro.