Now Kids, Pull Out Your Comics!

Teachers and Writers

 

My friend, who is a middle school English teacher, sent me a link to an article from The National Council of Teachers of English that discusses the advantages of using comics and graphic novels in the classroom entitled “Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom” ( I know—it’s a pretty straightforward title). Although the article is geared toward educators and discusses various ways to use the mediums in the classroom, I found the idea of comics and graphic novels being used as a tool to teach and improve reading comprehension and writing skills to be extremely interesting because I work with students who are trying to develop these skills every day.

In the article, Rachael Sawyer Perkins, an elementary school teacher, explains how she uses comics in her classroom. She states that the visual component of the comic helps her students become aware of important story elements; this is especially important for her students who have difficulty visualizing the story as they read traditional texts (“Using Comics”). In addition, she believes that comic panels provide an innovative way to teach students the important elements of a paragraph. She states that when she uses comic panels to teach the structure of a paragraph, her students “understand that each panel represented a paragraph” and that “[t]he narrative text at the top became the topic sentence [ . . . ] details were found in the visuals and in the dialogue” (“Using Comics”). In this way, Perkins uses comics to teach her students skills that they will need for a lifetime.

For many people, comics and graphic novels are read for fun, not for educational purposes. Many do not see the need for such mediums in a classroom; however, Perkins’ experience demonstrates how these mediums can combine both the students’ interests with their need to become good readers and organized, effective writers.

If you are interested, here is a link to the article: http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031

Work Cited

“Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom.” The National Council of Teachers of English.  5 Sept. 2007. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.

  1 comment for “Now Kids, Pull Out Your Comics!

  1. IMalone
    October 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

    First off I just wanted to say thank you for this article. Having been diagnosed with ADHD in second grade, I have always known that I function a bit differently, particularly when it comes to learning and processing information. Reading has always been a big struggle for me. Between the constant rereading and difficulty with comprehension, reading is not something that I particularly enjoy. This is not because of the content, I love a good story and I love to learn, it is strictly because of the frustration that comes with trying to get into a book. When 20 minutes have gone by and you realize you have only read 3 pages, it is hard to stay motivated. I have never read much for my own pleasure until this summer when I started reading comics and graphic novels. Something about the visual accompaniment makes it much easier for me to stay focused on what I am reading. I do not have such a hard time keeping track of what is going on. For the first time in my life I found myself making regular trips to the library and the book store. It was exciting. I had always written myself off as someone that would never read for pleasure, but comics changed that. The problem I run into is that there is a stigma with comics. Many see it as a lesser form of literature. It has pictures so it is childish and can not be taken as seriously as a regular book. Something that this article helps to point out is that while they are obviously different, comics can be a great literary and educational tool for someone like myself who learns differently. As kids we read picture books for a reason. It is great to see that people are realizing the potential of comics. It means a lot to me that comics are being acknowledged in the classroom because I know first hand how it can help children learn.

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