“The Uncanny Chronicles,” a comic book focused on the realities of dyslexia will soon be available nationwide as a graphic novel thanks to an agreement between Florida State University and Ventris Learning.
“The Uncanny Chronicles” is an eight-issue comic book series created by faculty from the Florida Center for Reading Research and the FSU College of Social Work. The story follows Kayla, a young reader who confronts issues related to reading difficulties and illustrates how she interacts with the world and how the world interacts with her.
Each issue presents Kayla with new obstacles, such as struggling with reading, the challenges of sharing her struggles with friends and adults and learning how to accept who she is.
“It is important that children see their issues reflected in what they read,” said Associate Professor of Social Work Yaacov Petscher. “This series gives kids of all ages the chance to see real-world situations modeled by characters they could relate to. We don’t shy away from presenting the hardships kids face in school, in friendships, and at home. I like to think of it as having the heart of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and the struggles of feeling different in ‘X-Men.’”
The series was created by faculty and staff from the Florida Center for Reading Research and FSU College of Social Work, with support from the National Center on Improving Literacy. The series was licensed by FSU to Ventris Learning and will be reprinted this spring as one volume with extended games, fun facts about reading and what science says about reading for kids and caregivers.
Co-developed by Petscher, associate director at FCRR, as well as the center’s director, Nicole Patton Terry, illustrator Daniel Hooker and writer Stephen Smith, “The Uncanny Chronicles” began in 2016 with a publishing cycle of three issues per year. Each one contained a chapter of Kayla’s continuing story and caregiver tips and resources compiled by the interdisciplinary creative team. It has been adapted into a video series featuring the voice talents of Zehra Fazal, whose previous credits include “Big Hero 6: The Series” and “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.”
“We’re incredibly proud to have so many talented people contribute their expertise to this project,” Petscher said. “A partnership with Ventris Learning leveraging their retail infrastructure was the next logical step in our journey to get ‘The Uncanny Chronicles’ into the hands of kids and families who will enjoy seeing Kayla’s adventures.”
Ventris Learning has a long track record in producing quality educational materials for children. It previously published Monster, P.I. computer-adaptive written language assessment based on the work of Petscher and Amanda Goodwin (Vanderbilt University), and the Dialect Awareness (DAWS) supplemental language curriculum developed by Lakeisha Johnson (FSU), the late Carol Connor (University of California, Irvine) and Shurita Thomas-Tate (Missouri State University). But it enters new territory with the release of “The Uncanny Chronicles.”
“The graphic novel is an excellent type of media to reach young people, parents, teachers and public and school library media specialists and inform them about dyslexia,” said Robert Meyer, president of Ventris Learning. “We’re so excited to have the opportunity to publish and disseminate the print edition of ‘The Uncanny Chronicles’.”
Publishing a collected edition is just the beginning of scaling up “The Uncanny Chronicles.” Kayla’s video adventures will premiere nationally this spring on CAMP TV, a special kids’ block of educational content produced by America’s flagship PBS station, The WNET Group.
“The Uncanny Chronicles is meeting a real need for children and families. In addition to being innovative, the project also highlights media literacy goals as well,” said Tasha Weinstein, education and engagement manager for WFSU Public Media, a PBS member station. “As a public media station, supporting, creating and sharing literacy is part of our DNA. WFSU recently partnered with FCRR to share this work during the summer through WNET’s CAMP TV program. Not only will children learn about Kayla and her adventures, but they will also have a behind-the-scenes look at animation and the chance to use their imaginations to create their own characters.”
Petscher added: “We’re thrilled to see so much interest in this project. It’s a testament to the power of producing fun, engaging and scientifically grounded themes that could have real impact in students’ lives.”
Florida Center for Reading Research
The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) is an interdisciplinary research center at Florida State University. Drawing from multiple disciplines, FCRR investigates all aspects of reading and reading-related skills across the lifespan. Through rigorous and robust research, innovation, and engagement, FCRR advances the science of reading to improve learning and achievement from birth through adulthood.
National Center on Improving Literacy
The National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) is a partnership among literacy experts, university researchers, and technical assistance providers, with funding from the United States Department of Education. Its mission is to increase access to, and use of, evidence-based approaches to screen, identify, and teach students with literacy-related disabilities, including dyslexia.