Saturday, February 14, 2009


From the Editor

We had parent-teacher conferences this week. One parent, who is also a teacher, sent me a note that I wanted to share with you. Their names have been removed.

Mr. Wilson,

You have been good for [my son]. Thank you for getting him into reading.


Naturally, I am scanning that note and putting it in my job portfolio (with the parent's permission), but the note means much more than just a nice comment to which I can refer when I am seeking employment at a district. This short note goes to the larger picture of what we (the writers and readers of The Graphic Classroom) are trying to accomplish.

When the reading research is applied then students are given true choice over their reading. As you may or may not know, comics rate within the top three choices of students.

When we educators rid ourselves of our antiquated, roadblock-beliefs about reading and learning, we are free to follow the research and open doors for students to grow, develop and learn. This is true of my work even during student teaching.

I combine my belief in comic literature as a bridge to reading motivation and development with my belief that I, as a classroom teacher, must create a social literature community where students want to share their stories with others. What I am finding is that this social sharing goes beyond my classroom and bleeds over in the home. I've heard from several parents that their children are sharing their comic literature at home.

I don't just bring in comics and stop there. I talk with my students about reading, stories and what they like. I do this as a class, in groups and individually. It is important that we build relationships with students if we are to succeed. I offer specific recommendations for my students, helping them pick books (comic or traditional) based on what they find interesting. When I do this, they feel special and see the literature as exciting and personal. The results are phenomenal and I find that parents and guardians are amazed that their child wants to read, desires to read, or asks for books as gifts.

My findings are not abnormal. Several researchers have made similar findings, yet there are still many teachers are reluctant to allow students access to comics for fear it might affect standardized testing or stunt their growth.

What we know, and what many parents are discovering, is that when students have true choice, their reading motivation increases, their Lexile level increases, and they finally discover reading for pleasure. Those old tecahing beliefs and habits are hard to change.

So enjoy the list of comics that came into the Classroom this week. Perhaps you, too, will find that comic literature transforms your room and your students. If you feel compelled, share your stories in the comments sections. If you are struggling with comic literature, we can talk about that, too.

  1. G.I. Joe #2
  2. Marvel Adventures Superheroes #8
  3. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #48
  4. Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen #4 (of 5)
  5. Super Friends #12
  6. Three Musketeers (premiere hardcover)
  7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #3 (of 8)

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