Though historically, teachers may have frowned upon comic books, more and more educators are now aware of their literary and educational value. Below are some tips for using graphic novels in the library or classroom.

Incorporating Graphic Novels Into the Classroom

What’s so special about graphic novels? The articles below explain their educational value.

NCTE – Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom – An article from the National Council of Teachers of English on some general ways to use graphic novels to also foster reading and critical thinking.

Christian Science Monitor – Hamlet too hard? Try a comic book – An article explaining how graphic novels can help students having comprehension issues.

The Washington Post – Back to the Drawing Board: Once Banned Comic Books Now a Teaching Tool – An article on how creating comic books in the classroom can stimulate students’ artistic and creative sensibilities.

Sample Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans from First Second – Graphic novel publishing company First Second has posted several lesson plans to their website based on books they have published like Robot Dreams or American Born Chinese.

Diamond Book Shelf – A list of sample lesson plans from comic book website Diamond Shelf. Includes a wide range of books for many age levels (such as Owly, Spider-Man, Anya’s Ghost, and Pride and Prejudice).

Defending Graphic Novels

Many still erroneously believe graphic novels to be a lesser form of art, as they still associate graphic novels with superhero comics and the like. Others object to possible sexual or  violent content. Below are some links that you can use to defend the use of graphic novels in your library or classroom.

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center – What If? – A link from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center on how to best develop a graphic novel collection to ensure that they are age appropriate and of high quality.

ALA – Dealing With Challenges to Graphic Novels – A link from the American Association of Libraries that explains how to defend the use of graphic novels in one’s collections if a patron challenges them. Includes sample questions that irate patrons or parents may pose and how to best field them.

Further Reading

Karp, J. (2011).  Graphic novels in your school library.  Chicago: ALA Editions.

Lyga, A. A. W., & Lyga, B. (2004). Graphic novels in your media center: A definitive guide. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York: HarperPerennial.


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