Adding comics and manga to your library’s collection is a surefire way to drive circulation via independent reading, but it can also bring scrutiny from parents and administrators who don’t believe they’re appropriate for all readers. Introducing carefully selected titles into the classroom curriculum across a variety of subjects is one way to demonstrate the medium’s unique ability to improve literacy, language learning, and reading for pleasure.
From graphic novel adaptations of canonical literature and visually engaging personal narratives to curriculum alignment via STEAM, comics and manga have gained popularity in classrooms as supplemental tools to aid in teaching accelerated and reluctant readers of all ages and interests.
Graphic novel adaptations of canonical literature have gained popularity in classrooms as supplemental tools to aid in teaching the original texts of classic novels and plays. These adaptations can make literature more accessible to students, which in turn improves literacy through comprehension of original texts and an increase in reading for pleasure. Their use in educational settings is significant because it offers opportunities to re-introduce a variety of classics to modern readers in a format that can be more engaging than traditional prose.
A common practice is to use a graphic novel version of a challenging text such as Romeo and Juliet to scaffold the storyline of the play before reading the original Elizabethan English together as a class. With this type of reading support, students can fully understand the plot of the story using visual cues and adapted language before engaging with the original language of the play itself.
Personal narrative writing has long been a staple in the middle school English/Language Arts curriculum. What was once, “What did you do over the break?” has evolved into more sophisticated and meaningful writing prompts. By reading graphic memoirs and first-person narratives as mentor texts, students can get ideas and inspiration from other writers. They can see how the writers have a clear focus, and a beginning, middle, and end to their stories; how they develop their ideas with engaging details. Most importantly, students can see how the writers use their unique voices when telling their personal stories, helping them find their own voices and share their own stories.
Beyond Language Arts, STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) focuses on teaching skills and subjects by integrating subjects for a more practical approach. The addition of the Arts — STEAM — gives the comics medium a perfect footing that allows students of all abilities to visualize subjects in more engaging ways. Educators can spark creativity and imaginative learning with comics and manga that address a range of scientific and artistic topics.
Engage, Excite, Educate!
Comics and manga are important for supporting independent reading but can also be effective tools for improving literacy, language learning, and reading for pleasure across a broad audience. With increasing availability of classroom-appropriate titles addressing a variety of educational subjects, educators should work with their librarian partners to include comics and manga in their lesson plans.
Comics Plus offers a range of free resources to help you bring comics from the library into the classroom, featuring recommended titles in key subjects for readers at every level, and webinars on everything from collection development and partnering with educators, to engaging accelerated and challenged readers alike.
- Making Classic Literature More Accessible
- Mentor Texts for Personal Narratives
- S.T.E.A.M. Reading Guide
- Constitution Week Reading Guide