What's the big idea?
Wireman comics is a unique literacy tool that hooks at-risk readers on a compelling story they can’t put down, as opposed to strengthening skills through drills and exercises. In Wireman, struggling readers see their world reflected back to them in the form of literature, many for the first time. Combined with amazing graphics, the first eight comics teach the 300 most common words in the English language, comprising 65% of all written English. And kids DO read all eight of the comics. The story of Wireman is so compelling that kids will learn to read in order to find out ‘what happens next.’
Describe the nearest player in your field.
Literacy is a huge problem in our community, yet educators have not tried to solve the problem using kids’ motivation and interests. Leveled readers, new skill strategies and educational products that don’t reach the hearts and minds of behind-grade-level readers are the closest players.
How are you different from that player?
I collaborated with hundreds of story consultants from the struggling reader population (in jails, classrooms, after-school programs) to craft a plot in which Wireman characters deal with the same issues the kids do. Wireman is sophisticated and cool, avoiding the stigma of primers.
How's the world different with your idea in it?
There are literally millions of struggling readers in this country. In many states, future jail needs are based on the reading scores of elementary kids; that is how highly correlated illiteracy and deliquency are. But the answer may be as simple as producing a product kids love and can read.
Why are you the one to run with this idea?
A children’s book author and literacy advocate for 25 years, I publish with Random House in New York. Wireman has been tested and loved in the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A web-based social media campaign could help Wireman gain the national audience we need to produce more comics.