September 2, 2014

Bringing comic books into classrooms

NY Times - When fifth graders at P.S. 124 in Brooklyn were given a sneak peek last winter of “Theseus and the Minotaur,” a retelling of the classic Greek myth by the French writer and cartoonist Yvan Pommaux, they immediately took to the tale, their teacher, Daniel Tandarich, said. And why not? The book, the first from Toon Graphics, is filled with gruesomely creative murders, feats of superhuman strength, misbehaving gods and bloodthirsty beasts. A scene in which a rampaging bull gores a Cretan youth was a particular favorite, Mr. Tandarich said. The best part about “Theseus and the Minotaur,” at least for this audience: It’s a comic book.

“You don’t have to explain to a child how to look at cartoons,” said Françoise Mouly, founder of Toon Graphics and art editor at The New Yorker. “You don’t have to tell a kid how to find Waldo, for example. They do this much better than adults, because they pay attention to details and are used to processing information to extract meaning out of it. That’s how they make sense of the world, and comics are good diagrams for how to extract meaning from print.”

Sam Smith - I've long advocated comic books as an important tool in learning to read. One reason: it's how, in part, I learned to read. Despite my parents' banning such books, I kept a hidden supply in my closet and under my bed. My love of writing in no small part comes from reading comic books.

And there's a practical side to it. If a book character calls someone atrocious, the young reader may not understand the word. But when you see a picture of someone acting or dressed in an atrocious manner, you immediately define it.


Anonymous said...

Of course some learning disabilities make comic books incomprehensible. My profoundly dyslexic child cannot follow comic books. Having the text all broken up with pictures and bubbles that don't fall in consistent patterns, makes such a distracting collage out of the page, she cannot follow the story. She reads plain text pretty well, but comic books can send her to tears of frustration. I have no objection with comics as one tool for learning, but they need to be part of a range of options, and not the only one.

Anonymous said...

they need to be part of a range of options, and not the only one.

Strongly agree.

I learned German, in part, by reading "Micky-Maus-Bücher", and the "Asterix-und-Obelix" series. The illustrations were quite helpful in providing context for the dialog balloons.

But I'm not dyslexic.