I am always looking for graphic novels to read, so on this particular search I came across one called Colorblind: A Story of Racism. I requested it from my library and went about my business. When it finally came it, I thought it looked a bit different than graphic novels I am used to reading but nevertheless, placed it in my bag and was on my way. I finally took it out of my bag the other day and was flipping through the pages to get a feel of the art style when I noticed more books with similar covers advertised in the back. For reference, this is the cover my the graphic novel I was holding:
And these are some of the books advertised by the publisher in the back of the book:
Now I am curious. They all look similar, but they also all cover some hot button issues with teens as the main character. So I looked up the publisher and I came across something super cool.
Zuiker Press is a publishing company that champions the voice of young authors. We are an “issue based” literary house. All of our authors have elected to tell their personal stories and be ambassadors of their cause. Their mission, as is ours, is that readers will learn from the pain and heroics of our authors and find hope, change, and happiness in their own lives.
Not only is this a publishing company that focuses solely on “issue based” graphic novels, but also, they tap into actual teen authors to write these stories of their personal experiences! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!
Co-founders and husband and wife duo, Anthony and Michelle Zuiker founded their publishing company on the basis of wanting to share the struggles that current kids were facing. They were inspired by their own son, who has autism, and wanted to give more students a platform to share their own issues. The point of publishing these stories is really to get adults and other kids to understand these kids and their unique situations. That is why the Zuikers are committed to being a solely “issue based” graphic novel publishing company. The books themselves are being distributed by Simon and Schuster.
Johnathan Harris, the author of Colorblind, is a 15- year old teenager from Long Beach, California. Some of his family photos and such are included in the back of the book, perhaps to drive home that these stories are nonfiction. They are about real teens, right now. All these books are authored by teenagers, and explore major issues facing youth today through the telling of their own stories. You can even get to know the authors through a series of videos on the publisher’s website.
When asked how the founders of this publishing company work with their authors for these stories they replied
In our process, we sit with prospective young authors and listen to their stories, and then work intimately with their parents, professionals, and loved ones to understand the underlying issues that these kids are facing. We spend countless hours with every family, cultivating meaningful relationships, and working face-to-face with the young writer to capture his or her story in order to present it in an authentic fashion.
So why graphic novels? It’s simple really. Michelle Zuiker states that students are “more apt to open a graphic novel versus another book you put in front of them,” which, as a professional who works with children, I have to agree. Graphic novels are incredibly popular among children today. The format is appealing in a number of ways, but mostly as Mrs. Zuiker states, “it grabs their attention and it’s a quick read.” Which is a huge sell for kids; they are growing up in a world where they are constantly stimulated, and so things do not hold their attention for very long. If they can sit and read a book in one sitting, it is encouraging to them to continue to read other books like that. That makes the graphic format an easy choice for this selected audience.
Speaking of students, the website also offers “teaching tools” for their books. They provide downloadable guides that include vocabulary activities, worksheets, discussion questions, writing prompts and other classroom friendly tools. It is the hope of the Zuikers that these resources will encourage teachers to use their books in their classrooms to discuss those topics.
Now you may be thinking to yourself that the name Zuiker sounds familiar. Don’t worry, you aren’t crazy! Anthony Zuiker is the creator of the immensely successful CSI television series. He was the executive producer for both CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Cyber. He is also known for “pushing the envelope” for a number of other scripted and even some reality tv shows like Whodunnit? and Cybergeddon.
I think personally I am going to try to read all their currently published books and write a “series” review of them. These are the ones available now:
But thats not all! Zuiker Press has 2 more coming out in November of this year, and 2 others in the Spring of 2020. I expect to see many many others in the years to come.
For more information, visit their website: https://zuikerpress.com/