Comic books are a legitimate learning source?

Posted: December 14, 2009 in Comics

About time somebody figured that out! I’ve been using comics in the classroom for years! With kids learning stuff to boot!

Newsarama reports: New study finds comic books are legitimate kids literature. From the article:

While on American shores comic books seems destined to always be fighting the perception of a less sophisticated form of literature, at least one recent academic study reports that comics hold no inherent disadvantage against traditional prose.

Carol L. Tilley, a professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois and expert in children’s literature, says that comics are indeed just as sophisticated as other forms of literature, and children benefit from reading them at least as much as they do from reading other types of books.

My buddy, Ian Carlson, over at Teach Comics, has been saying this same thing. I went to a presentation he was giving on comics in the classroom, and he used a single panel from the Fantastic Four from the John Byrne era in the early ’80s. One single panel contained four or five SAT prep words. Go Reed Richards!

I teach a unit on graphic novels every year in Senior English that is all about sequential storytelling using art. Even if there is no text, only images, they can still be used to tell a story and to interpret information. I also do a thing with political cartoons and interpreting the images. Good stuff I say!!! The two comics that I have used the most are the Maus books by Art Spiegelman. The books tell the story of his father’s experiences as a Polish Holocaust survivor. This story is obviously not about superheroes in tights saving the world from the next disaster. This is a historical biography about a man’s experiences as a holocaust survivor. I think this year I might do a short unit on The Plain Janes.

On a personal comic reading level, I’ve reading Mouse Guard: Winter 1152. Pretty good so far!

Go grab a comic right now and start reading!!!

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