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The Graphic Novel Classroom

The Graphic Novel Classroom
POWerful Teaching and Learning With Images

  • Maureen Bakis - Masconomet Regional School District, Topsfield, MA

Foreword by James Bucky Carter

Additional resources:

November 2011 | 176 pages | Corwin

A secret weapon for engaging adolescents

Could you use a superhero to teach reading, writing, critical thinking, and problem solving? While seeking the answer, secondary language arts teacher Maureen Bakis discovered a powerful pedagogy that teaches those skills and more. The amazingly successful results prompted her to write this practical guide that shows middle and high school teachers how to incorporate graphic novels into their classrooms in order to:

  • Teach 21st century skills, including interpretation of content and form
  • Promote authentic literacy learning
  • Grow learners' competency in writing and visual comprehension
  • Motivate students to create in multiple formats, including images
  • Engage struggling as well as proficient students in reading

This comprehensive resource includes teaching and learning models, text-specific detailed lesson units, and examples of student work. If you are looking for an effective, contemporary way to jump-start learning and inspire students to love reading, The Graphic Novel Classroom is the superpower you need!


Introduction: Welcome to the Graphic Novel Classroom
Part I. Looking at Literacy in the Graphic Novel Classroom
1. Looking at the Comics Medium
Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics

2. Interpreting Images
Shaun Tan’s The Arrival

Rachel Masilimani’s Two Kinds of People

Gene Leun Yang’s American Born Chinese

3. Looking at the Big Picture
Will Eisner’s A Contract with God and A Life Force

Part II. Looking at Memoir in the Graphic Novel Classroom
4. Pictures, Perception, and the Past: Teaching Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis
5. Legacies & Images: Teaching Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Elie Weisel’s Night, and Scott Russell Sanders’ “Under the Influence”
Part III: Looking at Superheroes in the Graphic Novel Classroom
6. A Glimpse at the Superhero Genre: Teaching Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
7. Making the Invisible Visible: Teaching Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta
Afterword: The Value of Teaching Graphic Novels in School


"There may be other books that promote the use of graphic novels, but none that are so specific or offer such concrete, user-friendly lessons. I really enjoyed reading this book—and now I want to read and teach some of these graphic novels."


Rebecca Rupert, English Teacher
Bloomington New Tech High School, Bloomington, IN

"This book shows without a doubt how a graphic novel can foster deep thinking, vibrant discussion and multiple opportunities for writing with a purpose."

Rachel Hanson, Writing Coach & Gifted Language Arts Teacher
Lakeside Middle School, Cumming, GA

"This book provides a great framework for structuring a graphic novel English language arts class. The practical rationales for using these texts, as well as the activities included, do meet the need for a book aimed at ELA in instruction with graphic novels."

Stergios Botzakis, Assistant Professor, Adolescent Literacy
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

"This book is very readable and makes a clear case for using graphic novels. More importantly, it provides readers with examples that they can use in their classrooms. It’s very practical, yet challenging."

Douglas Fisher, Professor
School of Teacher Education, San Diego State University, CA

"Even if you don’t want to (or can’t) teach graphic novels, this book offers so many wonderful ideas adaptable to other texts about how to get students thinking about what they read."

Cindy A. Spoon, Basic Reading Teacher
Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD

"High school English teacher and graphic novel advocate Maureen Bakis offers educators a guide for using comics as teaching tools, based on her own experience. She examines the compositional elements of comics using several volumes as examples and demonstrates how they can be used to teach different concepts and skills."

Diamond Bookshelf

'This informative teacher's guide demonstrates how McCloud's Understanding Comics can be utilized in class and offers tried-and-tested ideas for the classroom, taking select graphic novels as an example' 

Roswitha Henseler
Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch

The book will be used in a fall 2014 course for pre-services teachers. The text will be used to explore the various ways that graphic novels can be used in the classroom.

Professor Raphael Rogers
Education Dept, Clark University
May 8, 2014

y course is so overloaded as it is I cannot ask for students to adopt another full text (though I found it to be excellent!)

We need a nonprint media literacy class. This would be perfect for that.

Dr Kim McCollum-Clark
English, Millersville University
May 21, 2013
Key features
  • Offers detailed lesson units for teaching specific graphic novels in the secondary English language arts classroom
  • Presents a framework for the effective use of graphic novels in an English langauge arts class
  • Suggests various ways to assess learning
  • Includes examples of student work

Sample Materials & Chapters



For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452296487

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