By Chris Wilson
If you've been around TGC for long, you have undoubtedly read one of my little diatribes about the importance of comic adaptations of traditional literature. I'm a minority among educators and lovers of literature in that I strongly support the use of comic adaptations especially for, but not limited to, younger kids.
I've made the case before that comic adaptations get kids interested in classic literature. It is that important step that leads youngsters to love the classics and enjoy studying them in high school. A few months ago, Campfire Comics started mailing me their comics –– all the way from India. Classic literature, mythology, biography and some original titles are part of the lineup. Of that, I mostly received mythology and classics.
I used my influence as a teacher ––which is based upon my work building deep and important relationships with my students –– to turn them on to Campfire's comics. I displayed the titles on my book cart and talked about them at the beginning of the Hall of Heroes comic book club about three weeks ago.
Some of the kids had heard of these titles either from movies or from the librarian. I even had a lengthy conversation with one fourth grader about the connection of one of these adaptations to characters in the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN movie.
The kids snagged every single title save one from my book cart. I spent the next two weeks watching kids trade titles even before turning them back in. One morning I decided to interview them and see what they've been reading and what they liked. I put the video on YouTube but you can watch it below.
They took to the classics with more excitement than I had dreamed. Since that time, the Campfire comic adaptations of classic literature is still a hot commodity among my fourth graders. They love the stories.
The love of reading, my friends, is the ultimate key to life long reading and literature appreciation. It is my contention that when these kids get to high school and read some of these classics, they will not roll their eyes, grimace or groan at the prospect of reading some stuff old book. They will, having built a strong foundation for classic literature, will respond with "Oh, I know this story. It's good. This will be fun." They will then read the high school teacher's assignment and be able to critically analyze it because of their pre-existing knowledge.
Comic adaptations are just that ... adaptations. They are not to be feared as they are not designed to replace the classics. They simply offer scaffolding to the world of classics and give kids a stronger foundation on which to learn more, read more and get more out of literature.
I highly recommend Campfire's comics. They do what they are intended to do and do it in a way that excites kids about classic literature. You can't beat that with a stick.