The Graphic Novel Classroom: Powerful Teaching and Learning with Images


Maureen Bakis

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    For Jack, Shea, Regan, and Riley

    “It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see.”



    View Copyright Page

    List of Classroom Teaching Tools on the Companion Website

    Chapter 1

    • Will Eisner's Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative Assessment
    • Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics Study Guide
    • Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics Chapter Three Class Activity
    • Understanding Comics Concepts Assessment: Chris Ware's “Unmasked”

    Chapter 3

    • Discussion Prompts for Will Eisner's “a Contract with God”

    Chapter 4

    • Critical Media Literacy Film Response Questions
    • Supplementary Reading Activity: “Veiled Threat”
    • Persepolis Discussion & Writing Prompts
    • Persepolis: The Story of a Return Test
    • Persepolis Online Discussion Forum Topics
    • Persepolis Analytical Paragraph Writing Quiz
    • Writing Lesson: Model Memoir (Mary Karr)
    • Writing Lesson: Memoir
    • Writing Lesson: Sensory Imagery Worksheet
    • Memoir Composition Projects

    Chapter 5

    • Maus I: My Father Bleeds History Quizzes
    • Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began Group Reading Activities
    • Letter to the Author Assignment

    Chapter 6

    • Danny Fingeroth and Reader Response Superheroes Prompts
    • Discussion and Writing Prompts for Batman
    • Superhero Narrative Composition Projects
    • Paragraph Analysis Writing Lesson

    Chapter 7

    • Four Corners Category Lesson
    • V for Vendetta Quizzes
    • Exploring the Balance of Pictures and Words Activity
    • V for Vendetta Online Discussion Forum Questions
    • “Behind the Painted Smile” Reader Response Questions
    • V for Vendetta Film Response
    • V for Vendetta Writing Workshop Materials


    In 2007, in the introductory chapter to Building Literacy Connections With Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel, I wrote that “Although it is hoped that teachers might be convinced by this collection of essays and similar works to try comics or graphic novels in the classroom, more needs to be written to be sufficiently compelling for the most conservative educators” (p. 13). While I do not claim credit for the many comics-and-literacy articles and books that have been published since then, it is nice to see so many teacher-educators, humanities scholars, librarians, graduate students, and practicing teachers adding to the body of research regarding comics and literacy: a corpus, by the way, that stretches at least as far back as the 1940s. Comics and education are linked and have been for decades—centuries even, if we take into account the connections between contemporary graphica and related forms of sequential art. As I tell my students, “Anyone who has sight is a visual learner.” Humans are wired to learn visually, and the image-text interface will always be a means of learning, recording, sharing, and knowing. While I know there are still educators reluctant to integrate comics into the curriculum, to embrace fully the utility and history of the image, I take heart in the growing number of educators who see that doing so is no more a “fad” than blue jeans or movies, both of which were coming into the American consciousness around the same time as comic strips.

    With so many folks now mining the intersections of graphica and literacy, though, the question of ethos, or expertise and authority, must be addressed. Where does authority reside in contemporary English language arts (ELA) regarding the integration of comics and graphic novels? Within the data sets of the quantitive researcher? Within the case studies of the qualitatively minded professor? Within the well-written essay of a person deemed by fans of the form as an intelligent expert? The librarian? The teacher? The comics art creator?

    To me, the question is highly connected to the more general inquiry of where authority resides now in education as a whole. One of my favorite articles of the past few years addressing this question is Frederick M. Hess's “The New Stupid” (2008). Hess suggests that while the current emphasis on quantitative data in education and education studies is appropriate, such data may also be misused or overused. Authority, Hess seems to say, doesn't reside just in the numbers. Qualitative researchers and those employing mixed-methods would be quick to agree. Having been trained as a humanities scholar before becoming an English educator, I tend to see data-driven research as just another rhetorical tradition and approach to understanding, with inherent flaws just like any other.

    However, I often feel that nowadays the English in ELA is being ignored in favor of senses of ethos that devalue humanities and practitioner-based ways of knowing and communicating. For example, I see shifts in the types of articles some journals are publishing, shifts away from the rich humanities traditions that still have an important place for practicing professionals; in comics-and-literacy related work, specifically, sometimes I notice articles passing peer-review without referencing salient examples of preceding work that should be known and referenced; and I see a variety of campuses remarketing themselves as research-focused at the expense of being seen as teaching-centered. While I understand some of the reasons behind these shifts, I often feel like important nuances are being erased from the discourse of contemporary education and from what it means to be involved in a field like English education that should always bridge the humanities and the social sciences.

    To be fair, sometimes I see comics creators making blanket statements about learning without any mention of educational theory or figures. I have seen scholars in other fields and comics advocates make claims about teaching and comics as if simply “saying it makes it so.” Because of these things, I am quick to share with my own students, who I do hope will come to see themselves as teacher-researchers, this maxim: all research is important, and all research is bullshit. That is to say, when it comes to education and one's practice thereof, consider everything as if it has something “valid” to offer, but always consider that it might have some flawed and limited theses, and try to figure out what those flaws and limits might be. Nothing, not even write-ups of quantitative data, can give us the complete answer: no one source, no one method, no single expertise.

    So, where does authority reside in ELA today? Where does it reside in the intersections of comics and education? The answer is that it must reside in multiple sources. The rusting melting pot of intellectual ideas and pedagogy must morph into a dinner table, where there are many dishes to choose from and room for everyone. That is why I am so pleased with the effort you are about to read. While many comics-and-literacy scholars do have experience using graphica in K–12 settings and have written about those experiences, many of us teach at the university level now. That's not to say we don't ever interact in K–12 schools, but I think we'd all be quick to say that our roles and responsibilities at our universities are not exactly the same as they were when we taught full-time in elementary, middle, or high schools. Maureen's chapters are rooted in current actual practice with contemporary American adolescents. She knows what works and what hasn't and knows how to use real-time teacher research—the hit-or-miss, messy, sometimes instinctual, often “based-in-theory-and-scholarly-research-but-not-a-slave-to-it” kind of information that teachers gather, sort, and analyze every day, on the go, while balancing a hundred other stimuli.

    Maureen shares experiences and artifacts from what she calls “the graphic novel classroom,” a place where “students liked to read and authentic literacy occurred.” She shares nothing she hasn't used or reflected upon, and as you begin to integrate or adjust the ideas in these chapters to your own classrooms, she will be doing the same. You and your students will put your own authentic marks on the texts, strategies, and ideas shared herein, and you will never be alone in creating your own secondary graphic novel classrooms as long as Maureen Bakis is teaching and retooling alongside her kids in Topsfield, Massachusetts.

    With great pleasure, I announce Maureen Bakis's place at the table, and I know I can speak for both of us when I say we welcome you to pull up a chair, dig in, and add your own flavor and dishes to the spread. Ultimately, after all, ethos in education or anywhere else doesn't come solely from any one him, her, or them, nor from the producers alone; it comes also from the collective us, the critical consumers who interact with information from multiple sources, look over multiple dishes, if you will, then decide what's best to chew on for a while and what's best to pass.

    James BuckyCarter, PhD
    Assistant Professor of English Education
    University of Texas at El Paso


    Why won't they read? This is the frustrating question I must have asked myself a million times in my first five years as an English teacher. This root problem naturally led to other concerns about literacy—how to teach students basic writing skills, how to get them to think critically, and how get them to problem solve. I spent much of those years trying to reinvent an approach to teaching literature that would cause students to make personal connections to traditional, classic texts in ways that would motivate them to express themselves with passion. I was somewhat successful, but it took an enormous amount of performance from me during class, and honestly, it just felt phony. I was talking too much and leading them too often to make connections that I saw (or thought they should see) in lieu of their own authentic responses.

    At the same time I was wrestling with this dilemma, I found myself in a graduate class focused entirely on graphic novels. Never a comic book reader myself, I suddenly felt negative and reluctant to read. I was insulted that I was being asked to read something so seemingly irrelevant. What did Batman have to do with me, a forty-year-old single mother? What could I possibly learn from someone like Alan Moore or Scott McCloud? I was angry and skeptical, as I suddenly found myself in the seats of my own students! After I resigned myself to reading these “picture books” to achieve my grade, I found myself falling madly in love. I discovered that Scott McCloud is funny and intriguing and his Understanding Comics (1993) blew me away. I wept while reading Maus (Spiegelman, 1986) and read Persepolis (Satrapi, 2004) three times. V for Vendetta (Moore & Lloyd, 1988) resonated with me as I recalled aspects of my undergraduate education as a philosophy major: existentialism, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, and the role of the artist in society. Reading as a teacher, I began to take notes on teachable aspects of all of these incredibly inspiring graphic narratives and wracked my brain about ways I could possibly get these novels into the hands of my students. If I was a reluctant, skeptical reader and I converted, the chances were pretty good students might too. Luckily, just at this time, my high school was considering an English 12 curriculum overhaul, so I jumped at the opportunity to create a course that would focus on graphic novels.

    This book is the result of my work to develop a graphic novel classroom, an inviting place at school where students like to read and authentic literacy learning occurs. It is the result of my personal reflections on numerous conversations with students, educators, book distributors, bloggers, librarians, and graphic novelists about teenagers, comics, language arts pedagogy, and twenty-first century learning. When I was searching for information about how to teach graphic novels to high school age students, I looked for resources that exhibited how real students responded to graphic novels and how these texts fostered enjoyment, achievement, and English language arts (ELA) skills. Would teenagers actually read these novels? What would they think if they were being asked to read them in school? I sought answers by investigating how teachers like me were using graphic novels in their classrooms and the degree of success they were experiencing.

    A number of outstanding resources authored by educators and professionals informed my development as a graphic novel teacher, including Dr. James Carter's Building Literacy Connections With Graphic Novels (2007), which paved the way for teachers like me to publicize their experiences teaching comics. His award-winning book is an edited collection of various educators’ ideas for pairing graphic novels with classic texts and contemporary young adult literature. Katie Monnin's Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) is another great resource loaded with extensive reading lists, classroom activity templates, and an outstanding cross-index of middle and high school graphic novels and themes. Dr. Michael Bitz's When Commas Meet Kryptonite (2010) is yet another excellent book that includes instructional ideas for the classroom based on Dr. Bitz's very successful “Comic Book Project” (Bitz, 2004). These scholars, and other talented professionals in the field, have created useful resources for teaching comics and graphic novels to a range of age groups and academic levels, but this book you are currently reading is the resource I was looking for—comprehensive, text-specific with models of teaching and student learning authored by a high school English teacher for fellow teachers. The text-specific nature of this book, its scope, the unique combination of resources, and its demonstrations of twenty-first century learning, along with student commentary and composition, differentiate it from the current resources available. By default, this book is a solid rationale for including graphic novels in any standard ELA curriculum and adds to the ongoing conversation about comics in education.

    In our graphic novel classroom at Masconomet Regional High School, I have students coming after class to ask for the next book in the unit because they have already read ahead through the currently assigned text. Students are blogging about the best book they've ever read or the first or only book they've ever enjoyed reading in high school. Some of these comments are sprinkled throughout this book. Because of graphic novels and a pedagogy based on transactional theory and reader response, I am finally teaching language arts and twenty-first century skills with students who are as engaged and passionate about what they are reading, writing, and creating in multiple media formats as I am. Our classroom is a happy, creative, and productive place where literacy, including visual literacy, is the norm. I hope you find this book useful in creating the classroom you desire, one that includes graphic novels and the one your students deserve.


    Thank you, students in the Masconomet Regional High School classes of 2010 and 2011 for your honesty about reading and reading graphic novels. My thanks also go to the English Department chairperson, David Donavel, and our principal, Pam Culver, at Masconomet. If David and Pam hadn't said yes to my idea about comics in the classroom, this book wouldn't exist. I'd also like to thank the Masconomet Regional School Committee for being open-minded and receptive of change, something that happens too infrequently and slowly in education. The School Committee members, many of them parents, saw the need for student choice and more pleasurable reading opportunities in the classroom and made our twelfth grade elective curriculum a reality. Thank you colleagues and friends at Masconomet, first and foremost my mentor teacher, Deborah Shapiro, who helped me navigate the classroom as a new teacher, provided a model of professional excellence, and became my closest friend. My lunch buddies in House C, fellow English department cohorts, especially Alison Prindiville and Annie Rollins, and my special student helper, Victoria Caruso, and Special Education tutor, Cheryl Elkins, also deserve thanks. Christian Leblanc, Chris Love, and Keith Hartan with whom I shared many conversations about comics and graphic novels, thank you!

    A special thank you goes to John Shableski, who invited me into the inner circle of graphic novelists, publishers, and researchers, including Dr. James Bucky Carter and Dr. Katie Monnin. Thanks to Cary Gillenwater for sharing his dissertation research about using graphic novels in the classroom and answering my many questions. Our work together combines theory and practice about the power of using comics in classroom to foster student learning and a love of reading.

    Any teacher worth her salt realizes that she is only as good as her mentors. In this respect, I credit my parents first for my work ethic and constantly reinforcing the importance and value of education. Professors in the graduate education department at Salem State University all deserve many thanks, including Dr. Lisa Mulman, who introduced me to graphic novels and celebrated my successful use of them in the classroom, Dr. J. D. Scrimgeour, who introduced to me to graphic novel memoir, imagery created by words within poetry, and Dr. Ann Taylor, who taught me how to teach writing. Dr. Donnalee Rubin introduced me to the work of Louise Rosenblatt, Sheridan Blau, Kelly Gallagher, and Jim Burke, whose work informs my classroom practice and is evident throughout this book. I can't thank her enough for teaching me about reading and for the resources she has provided for this book.

    Thanks to my siblings, including my sister and very best friend, Arlene Barbieri, Sharon Thurston, Kelly Lacrosse, and my brother, John Bakis, who groomed me to be persistent, moral, mentally tough, and humorous, respectively. Being the youngest certainly has its benefits. And to Rob Hayes, thank you for taking me away from the daily toil to tropical places, providing sanity when I needed it most, and for your patience and love.

    Last, but certainly not least, my love, my world, and the reason I exist—my children Jack, Shea, Regan, and Riley Doyle—thank you. You have no idea how grateful I am that you willingly share your mom with so many other kids every day and for waiting so patiently for me to finish writing this book. I love you!

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Melody Aldrich, English Teacher and Department Chair
    • Poston Butte High School, Florence, AZ
    • Kristie Betts Letter, National Board Professional Teacher of Secondary English
    • Peak to Peak High School, Lafayette, CO
    • Stergios Botzakis, Assistant Professor, Adolescent Literacy
    • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
    • David Callaway, Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher
    • Rocky Heights Middle School, Highlands Ranch, CO
    • Emmalee Callaway, 2nd–3rd Grade Gifted and Talented Teacher
    • Acres Green Elementary School, Littleton, CO
    • James Bucky Carter, Assistant Professor of English Education
    • University of Texas at El Paso
    • Darlene Castelli, Literacy Coach and Reading Specialist
    • Clayton High School, Clayton, MO
    • Douglas Fisher, Professor
    • School of Teacher Education, San Diego State University, CA
    • Rachel Hanson, Writing Coach and Eighth Grade Gifted Language Arts Teacher
    • Lakeside Middle School, Forsyth County Schools, Cumming, GA
    • Lorenza Lara, Secondary Literacy Coordinator
    • Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO
    • Linda Parsons, Assistant Professor of Literacy
    • The Ohio State University
    • Rebecca Rupert, English Teacher
    • Bloomington New Tech High School, Monroe County Community School Corporation, Bloomington, IN
    • Anna Soter, Professor, Adult and Adolescent Literacies/English Education School of Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University
    • Cindy A. Spoon, Basic Reading
    • Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD

    About the Author

    Maureen Bakis is a mother of four children and has been teaching English at Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield, Massachusetts, for seven years. Maureen presents her experiences teaching graphic novels to high school students at local, regional, and national conferences and events, most recently New York Comic Con, Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and New England Comic Arts in the Classroom. She also blogs about her experiences as webmaster at

  • Afterword: The Value of Teaching Graphic Novels

    Many teachers justify the use of graphic novels in the classroom because of their companionable thematic content with other classic works of literature, yet treat form as a secondary consideration by perhaps thinking graphic art and other forms of media involving images is best left to the art department. I did too, but I soon realized that graphic novels’ value in developing literacy skill lies in the examination of the formal aspects of the medium. And I don't mean incidentally looking at nice visuals that accompany the narrative; I mean really reading images deeply and as part of the language of the medium.

    By teaching visual literacy, my students report that they are now better, more discriminating and self-aware readers than they were before they started reading graphic novels. In addition to discussions of character, conflict, theme, and setting, students in the graphic novel classroom also talk about images, icons, and how we know and interpret what we see. We talk about perception and making assumptions, and we challenge preconceptions. We talk about the influences on the way we see and read and how one reaches consensus or conclusions about stories told in sequential art form. We explore content and form as inextricable. Best of all, students realize that there are more ways to express themselves and tell stories beyond printed words on paper, and they experience success and personal satisfaction in experimenting communicating using images in a graphic novel classroom.

    Powerful Words and Images

    I want to leave you with a few final powerful words and images from the students’ end of the course portfolio assignment where they were asked simply to write about and draw what they learned in the graphic novel classroom.

    “My whole life growing up I've hated reading, but since I have been reading graphic novels I have finally found a kind of book I actually enjoy reading.”


    “After taking this class I have learned that I can take a lot away from something unexpected. This class has shown me that trying something out of the ordinary can be surprisingly beneficial and could stay with you for the rest of your life. The graphic novel course has influenced me to try new things in life and be open-mined to different ideas.”

    D. J.

    “This class has prepared me for college because it has made me think in ways I have never been made to think. I am more observant and I have become aware of the value and significance of what can be perceived visually.”


    “Graphic Novel struck me as something new, fun, and exciting. This class was a breath of fresh air … I loved that we had a chance to come up with our own ideas and weren't on a tight leash when it came to projects like designing our own graphic novel. Thank you for creating this class and showing people that there is more than one way to read book[s] and learn English!”


    “I've spent years reading all text books, and while I still do, it was interesting that I could be reading a format that some consider childish in school, when at home I would be reading technical publications and philosophical titles. It was bizarre that I would spend so much time analyzing a comic book and breeze through a report on string theory.”


    “The reason I didn't like normal lit in other English classes is because I never got images in my head when I read books, and it was more difficult for me to stay reading a book than it was for other students. And in graphic novel[s] there are already pictures, but you still need to put motion to them using your imagination. I found this really funbecause everyone knows that the characters get from point A to point B, but everyone has a different way of getting there through the panels.”


    “I am not very fond of reading, so I enjoyed this class because I was able to read an entire book and not become bored with the text. We were able to cover more material.… This class required more interaction than any other English class I have endured. No longer did reading consist of solely words, rows of letters that blurred into rows of black lines on white paper … while you read you have to also study the images that correspond with the words. This made me slow down and take my time when reading rather than rush through extensive amounts of words.”


    “Learning about graphic storytelling and about reading graphic novels has helped me pay attention to details of writing and imagery, not just words.… This class has helped me to prepare for college by exposing me to new ideas and forcing me to go out of my comfort zone.”


    “I learned that the graphic medium has the power to change one's perspective completely about literature.… I now know that written language is not the only way for an author to portray his or her perspective.”


    “The most positive learning experience … came from the Scott McCloud book … it made the comics medium and how it works very clear and understandable. After reading that book I was able to analyze other books that I read more accurately. I understood what I was reading and took into account the structure and importance of the images. I found that the medium is extremely unique … [comics] utilizes all the senses of the reader and make the story that much better to read creating a better reading experience.… During this course I learned how to think about how I read while I'm actually reading.”


    “I learned that knowledge gained from literature is unlimited. Writing in general is a collective representation of the human soul, never-ending, and chock full of individual voices that want to be heard.Graphic novels are no less important of a portrayal of personal expression than fully worded novels. Everyone is afraid, not so much of death, but the idea of being forgotten. It is in our nature to desire immortality in some form (a little something I picked up from this class). It is important that we learn all different mediums of expression, or else we may never be heard. There is something capturing about graphic novels, to see the story in the way the writer intended—to see reality through someone else's eyes. There is something more real about static images, something that holds your attention and screams, listen! See my hardship, see my joy—make sense of it, and know that you are not alone.”



    Graphic Novel Educator Resources

    The Graphic Novel Classroom author, Maureen Bakis, welcomes graphic novel enthusiasts to read, blog, and discuss teaching using comics on this social network. Resources related to teaching and learning with graphic novels are housed on the site, including group discussions listed by novel title, event updates, articles, and RSS feeds. An extensive list of links on the homepage lead to comics scholars and artists’ blogs and websites, as well as comics creation tools and publishers websites. Many of the links and resources cited in The Graphic Novel Classroom are archived at this site.

    School Library Journal's Good Comics for Kids

    The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens, this site provides informed reviews from experienced graphic novel specialists and rich resources about comics, graphic novels, and manga. (

    American Library Association (ALA) Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Annual Great Graphic Novels for Teens

    Great Graphic Novels for Teens is a list of recommended graphic novels and illustrated nonfiction for those ages 12 to 18, prepared yearly by YALSA. (

    ALA: Dealing with Challenges to Graphic Novels

    This page offers tips to help you prepare for challenges to using graphic novels in your school. ( Comics Educators and Resources is the homepage of the National Association of Comics Art Educators (NACAE). The site is a resource where educators in comic art and sequential art can get and share ideas.

    Citations Guide for Graphic Novels and Comics

    This citations guide will assist you with formatting issues related to scholarly writing about comics. (

    Find testimonials, lesson ideas, book lists, reviews, and articles about teaching graphic novels and comics in the classroom.

    Subscribe to the GNR newsletter to get the latest updates about the comics industry; new titles; author, artist, and teacher interviews; op-eds; and comic convention news and other national events. The site hosts everything and anything related to graphic novels.

    Suggested Reading for Teaching Graphic Novels

    Will Eisner's Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative (2008), originally published in 1996 by W.W. Norton, is an excellent resource for teachers to read before teaching comics and for younger students who may not be ready to read McCloud's Understanding Comics (1993).

    Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices From the Legendary Cartoonist (W.W. Norton, 2008) is another excellent resource for understanding and applying the principles of the comics medium.

    Hollis Margaret Rudiger's “Reading Lessons: Graphic Novels 101” is an excellent article published in the April/May, 2006 issue of The Horn Book Magazine (pp. 126–134). If you don't have time to teach Eisner or McCloud's texts listed above, you might use this short article, which literally walks the reader through the process of reading comics in a simple, straightforward way. This is a perfect resource for a workshop.

    Nancy Frey & Douglas Fischer's Teaching Visual Literacy, published in 2008 by Corwin, is an edited collection of chapters from educators using comics, graphic novels, and other media in their classrooms to promote learning how to better communicate using images. The authors’ introduction provides crucial information about understanding importance of visual literacy in the twenty-first century.

    Dr. James Bucky Carter's Building Literacy Connections With Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel, published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 2007, contains a collection of chapters based on teachers’ experiences using graphic novels at the secondary education level.

    Dr. James Bucky Carter's Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels, published in 2010, is an edited compilation of work from numerous educators nationwide and is a tremendous resource not only for providing rationales but for its information about more than 100 graphic novels. The DVD list of titles is alphabetized and includes suggestions for braiding, reviews, possible objections, awards, links to resources, and lesson ideas.

    Dr. Katie Monnin's Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom, published by Maupin House in 2010, provides unique strategies for teaching middle and high school language arts students how to read graphic novels.

    Stephen Tabachnick's Teaching the Graphic Novel, an edited collection of articles published by the Modern Language Association of America in 2009, provides ideas for teaching graphic novels in upper grade levels of secondary education, undergraduate, and graduate level courses from experienced graphic novel educators.

    What It Is by Lynda Barry, published in 2008 by Drawn & Quarterly, is an interesting and creative resource that explores the purpose of art and storytelling in a collage-based format.

    Scott McCloud's Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels, published by Harper Paperbacks in 2006, is a helpful resource for learning the various techniques for creating your own comics.

    Dr. Michael Bitz's When Commas Meet Kryptonite: Classroom Lessons From the Comic Book Project illustrates the incredible success kids experience through creating their own comic books with ideas for helping your students do the same.

    Matt Madden and Jessica Abel's Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond, published by First Second in 2008, contains a plethora of mini-lessons and activities for basic cartooning. The authors’ knowledge of and emphasis on the basic principles of storytelling are incredibly helpful for language arts teachers at all levels of education.

    Graphic Novels for Secondary ELA Classroom Use
    Briggs, R. (1998). Ethel & Ernest: A true story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
    Chabon, M. (2000). The amazing adventures of Kavalier & Clay. New York: Picador.
    Clowes, D. (2007). Ghost world. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books.
    Gaiman, N. (2010). The best American comics 2010. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    Guibert, E., DidierL., & Lemercier, F. (2009). The photographer (A.Siegel, Trans.). New York: First Second.
    Hamilton, T. (2009). Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The authorized adaptation. New York: Hill & Wang.
    Jacobson, S., & Colon, E. (2006). The 911 report: A graphic adaptation. New York: Hill & Wang.
    Jacobson, S., & Colon, E. (2010). The Anne Frank house authorized graphic biography. New York: Hill & Wang.
    Kuper, P., & Kafka, F. (2003). The metamorphosis. New York: Crown.
    Mazzucchelli, D. (2009). Asterios polyp. New York: Pantheon.
    Moore, A. (1987). Watchmen. New York: DC Comics.
    Pekar, H. (1986). American splendor: Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff. New York: Ballantine.
    Sacco, J. (2000). Safe area Gorazde: The war in eastern Bosnia, 1992–1995. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books.
    Small, D. (2009). Stitches: A memoir. New York: W.W. Norton.
    Spiegelman, A. (2004). In the shadow of no towers. New York: Pantheon Books.
    Thompson, C. (2006). Blankets. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions.
    Vaughn, B. (2006). Pride of Baghdad. New York: DC Comics.
    Ware, C. (2000). Jimmy Corrigan: The smartest kid on earth. New York: Pantheon Books.
    White, T. (2010). How I made it to eighteen. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
    Winick, J. (2000). Pedro and me: Friendship, loss, and what I learned. New York: Henry Holt.

    References and Further Reading

    Alvermann, D. E., & Hagood, M. C. (2000). Critical media literacy: Research, theory, and practice in “new times.”Journal of Educational Research, 93(3), 193–205.
    Andrasick, K. (1990). Opening texts. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.
    Atwell, N. (1998). In the middle: New understandings about writing, reading and learning (
    2nd ed.
    ). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Abel, J., & Madden, M. (2008). Drawing words & writing pictures: Making comics: manga, graphic novels, and beyond. New York: First Second.
    BBC Comics Britannia. (2007, October 14). Alan Moore talks – 01 – V for Vendetta. Retrieved from
    Bitz, M. (2004). The comic book project: Forging alternative pathways to literacy. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 47(7), 574–586.
    Bitz, M. (2010). When commas meet kryptonite: Classroom lessons from the comic book project. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Blau, S. (2003). The literature workshop: Teaching texts and their readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Boatright, Michael D. (2010). Graphic journeys: Graphic novels’ representations of immigrant experiences: Graphic novels can be a provocative resource for engaging the complex issues surrounding immigrant experiences. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53(6), 468–469.
    Boyne, J. (2006). The boy in the striped pajamas. New York: David Fickling Press.
    Brodsky, L. (2010, May). The art of teaching an essential list. Retrieved from
    Burke, J. (1999). The English teacher's companion. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton-Cook.
    Burke, J. (2000). Reading reminders: Tools, tips, and techniques. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Burke, J. (2010). What's the big idea: Question-drive units to motivate reading, writing, and thinking. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Carrier, D. (2000). The aesthetics of comics. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
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