Reading with Pictures: Comics That Make Kids Smarter!
Edited by Josh Elder
Review by Mara Wood
There is a growing base of research on the impact of graphic novels and comic books in educational settings. In general, research states that the format and presentation of comic books can be conducive to learning for many children. With that in mind, nonprofit organization Reading With Pictures created a graphic novel textbook for grades 3 through 6. Language Arts, Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies are covered in this unique textbook.
The chapters in the textbook range from straightforward informative comics to highly entertaining comics that utilize the target subject. Contributors include Chris Giarrusso, Katie Cook, Jim and Rose McClain, Jason Allen, and many more. Gene Luen Yang, writer of American Born Chinese, provides a forward to the book that emphasizes the strides the comics medium has made in recent years.
In addition to the hardcover textbook, a Teacher’s Guide is available. The Teacher’s Guide is just as entertaining and informative as the student’s textbook. Lesson plans for each comic is provided as well as rationale for using comics and graphic novels in the classroom. As part of the rationale, research on how comics have benefitted students is included. The lesson plans are detailed, setting goals and incorporating Common Core Standards into each plan. Accomplished educators and professors of education had a hand in developing these plans, which ensures that teachers are getting the most out of their graphic novel textbook.
Reading With Pictures hopes to aid educators in their use of comics in the classroom. While the graphic novel textbook is a physical manifestation of their goal, their website is full of additional resources for educators of all levels. Educators also have the opportunity to share their own experiences with using graphic novels in classrooms.