8.23.2011

Offering Choices for your Readers: Comic-Book Craze!

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Suzanne Collins biography, graphic novel style!
Students should enjoy reading, right!? And there's a reason why young children love picture books: images are appealing. Do I prefer reading a graphic novel version of my favorite books? Not really. But, that doesn't mean none of my students do.
In fact, I would say quite a few of them would prefer it.

If I want my students to enjoy reading, I need to offer plenty of choices. The same with writing. Some kids are happy to write a classic book report. But some aren't. So why not give them choices?

With the recent announcement on the Hunger Games Fireside Chat of Sara Gundell's comic-style biography of Suzanne Collins (author of The Hunger Games), (see picture) this reminds me that there are so many appealing ways to entice students to read rather than the traditionally printed book. I offer loads of choices in my high school classroom because we all have different tastes. I do love reading comics and have Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, Close to Home, and Frazz books for students to read. Of course I offer the classics along side them, but I would much rather have a student read something over nothing. We need to admit that it is OK to allow these choices in our classroom. Students DO learn from reading non-academia texts! Reading the Guiness Book of World Records is still helping my students' reading skills. How? Because they are reading! It doesn't matter what they are reading. The act alone and repetition of it makes them better readers.

It is the same with writing. The more they write, the better writer they become. So why do we assign the boring 5-paragraph essay over and over again so they learn to hate writing? I don't know (well I do...because we are forced to). It's crazy. I would rather assign them more relevant and personally-connected pieces because 1. they will enjoy it, and 2. the chances of them copying & pasting text from the internet is less likely.

Here's a free download for you: comic strip panels to use to assign a comic bio or book report. (Click on the images below to print or drag to your desktop to save. I created them using Pasq.com's Comic Life program.) You can head to my teacher store to find additional ideas for literature- and history-based learning.







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I teach high school English in Illinois; enjoy family time, baseball, collecting PEZ dispensers, and talking about anything related to my favorite books. They include The Hunger Games trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Chaos Walking trilogy, and anything written by Amy Tan.

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