Comics hold a special place in the literary landscape of schools, but as a form or medium, comics don’t often get a lot of teacher approval. In fact, some research has found that elementary teachers are afraid they won’t be taken seriously if they use comics in their classes. But, here’s the thing: teachers who have brought graphic novels and comics into the formal curriculum have found overwhelming success. Comics provide multiple access points for readers to engage with complex stories in flexible and complex ways.
The first step in teaching with graphic novels must be setting solid learning goals. Are you teaching the hero’s journey? Memoir? Small moments? Are you looking for mentor texts for your students to find inspiration or for modeling persuasive essays? For perspective taking? All of these are important and can be taught with comics. These guides use teaching perspective taking and triumphs as the model, but graphic novels can be used for teaching just about anything.