Comics Corner by Tamara Cox
Comic books are often viewed as “less than” or “light” reading. Even though respected organizations like the National Council of Teachers of English and Read Write Think offer lessons using comics, many teachers are still reluctant to allow students to read them in class, much less encourage it. I am working to change the negative stereotype comics have using library programs at my middle school.
Comics are excellent resources for promoting reading to reluctant readers, boys, English language learners, and special education students. The graphics bridge the gap between graphics and text and instill confidence, while illustrating to these students that reading is fun. I hope to capitalize on student interest in comics with library programs.
This year I opened the Comics Corner in our library. Using the expertise of my local comic book store staff, I purchased the beginnings of a comic collection. I added a few posters, comfy chairs, and a superhero cardboard cutout. The students were excited. Our grand opening included popcorn, free comics, prizes, photo booth and, of course, reading the new comics. You can read more about the details here. The Comics Corner will be open before and after school, during lunch and when teachers want to reward students with reading time.
In order to help the grown-ups appreciate the new addition, I referenced comic book research to create an online Smore flyer explaining the benefits of reading comics and invited teachers and administrators to our grand opening. Our Comic Corner includes a Word Wall and Graffiti Board so that readers can share the learning taking place. I have already had our Journalism teacher bring her class to study the collection before creating their own comic. Three teachers make arrangements to use the corner as a reward for some of their struggling students. Our collection has grown in just the short few weeks we opened. One of my district administrators and another teacher used credit at a nearby used book store to purchase and donate 50 more comic books.
The teachers in our district are able to earn renewal credit hours by participating in a librarian led monthly book study called Book Boot Camp. The first genre that we tackled was graphic novels. Many teachers changed their opinions about graphic novels and comics after reading several selections. One of the teachers explained her change of heart:
While I don’t think graphic novels will ever be my favorite, my students seemed to feel validated by the fact that I was reading these novels. Before they saw me reading and talking these books up, they hid the fact they read and enjoyed these novels. Suddenly these weren’t books for struggling readers, they were what their teacher was reading!
If you are interested in introducing comics into your school or classroom library, I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Comics are inexpensive. Buy a few and give them a try. Your students will thank you.
I have a collection of comic and graphic novel related resources collected here, including comic apps, reasons for using comics in the classroom, Free Comic Book Day and more.
Tamara Cox, the Eliterate Librarian, is a self-proclaimed “wannabe edtech geek” and middle school librarian in South Carolina. She loves to connect students with the perfect book and help teachers that are nervous about taking the tech plunge. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book you can find her online at www.e-literatelibrarian.blogspot.com or on Twitter as @coxtl.