Using Graphic Novels with Children and Teens

Using Graphic Novels with Children and Teens

Comics and kids were meant for each other. If it was banned at school, then the kids wanted to read it. Most kids may even have read more comic books than textbooks, which shouldn’t be very surprising. Comic books are short, fast, and easy, while textbooks can put anyone to sleep before getting past the table of contents. Teachers should take advantage of kids’ prior knowledge and use comics in the classroom.

The Myths of Comics in the Classroom

Comics are usually banned from the classroom, so why the suddenly change in attitude? In Going Graphic by Stephen Cary [Heinemann, 2004] he points out the myths commonly held about comics. The number one myth is that comics are all violent, raunchy, or sexist. Yet, they now have classics such as David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain as graphic novels.

Another common misconception is that readers only look at the pictures. If a reader only looked at the picture, he would be missing half the story. Comics are different from pictures in a book. A lot of books have a picture to create space or illustrate a scene. A student would understand the story with or without the picture. A comic or graphic novel is different. The words and the pictures don’t necessarily have to match. They complement each other.

One of the biggest complaints is that comics have minimal written text. It may be true that some wordless comics have no text, but it is equally true that some graphic novels are so long that they would equal a novel. If selected carefully, comics can help readers excel.

Read more at Suite101: Comics in the Classroom: Why Teachers are Using Graphic Novels to Teach


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