Get Some Knowledge: Read the Reviews
The links included here will help you brush up on the latest and greatest graphic novels and comics out there. Don’t forget, many of the regular review journals also include excellent reviews of comics being published today (Horn Book, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Library Media Connection, etc.), so if you don’t have a subscription to a few of those- go get one in addition to the links provided here.
This is a site run by librarians (both school and public alike) who use comics in their collections. It’s hosted by School Library Journal (www.slj.com) and posts regular reviews of kids’ comics and graphic novels, plus news, resources, discussion topics, frequently asked questions, and more. A must read blog for any librarian or teacher who plans on using comics in their school.
Great Graphic Novels for Teens is a list of recommended graphic novels and illustrated nonfiction for those ages 12-18, prepared yearly by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). The list is announced each year after the Midwinter Meeting.
Claiming to be simply a “Graphic Novel Review Site,” No Flying No Tights is so much more. It primarily offers new and archived reviews that are searchable from the home page and organized by age-appropriateness. However, it also offers news, resources, and a useful link called “Comics 101,” which explains comics and comics-related language to the uninitiated.
The Graphic Classroom is a resource for teachers and librarians to help them stock high quality, educational-worthy, graphic novels and comics in their classroom or school library. Teacher and site manager Chris Wilson reads and reviews every graphic novel or comic on the blog and gives it a rating as to its appropriateness for the classroom.
This very professional site offers reviews of comics for all ages plus news, resources for librarians, an extensive list of great graphic novels for kids, teens, and adults, specific tips on how to use certain books for book clubs and book talks, round-table discussions, and much more. One great tool to look out for is the core list that they provide- one for each type of library!
Share Some Knowledge: Use These Lessons…
Many teachers are already familiar with this site’s incredible units and lessons for all ages. A simple search for “Comics” or “Graphic Novels” will bring up an extensive list of lessons for students from grades K-12 that incorporate graphic novels in many different ways.
From their site- “Reading With Pictures is a nonprofit organization that advocates the use of comics in the classroom to promote literacy and improve educational outcomes for all students. We work with academics to cultivate groundbreaking research into the proper role of comics in education. We collaborate with cartoonists to produce exceptional graphic novel content for scholastic use. Most importantly, we partner with educators to develop a system of best practices for integrating comics into their curriculum. At Reading With Pictures, we get comics into schools and get schools into comics.”
Use the Educator Resources link from their home page to access lessons that use comics in the classroom. OR, if you’ve created your own, succesful lesson using comics, share it with them and they’ll upload it to share with the world.
This site also has the impressive Graphic Textbook for sale, a book that contains comics from some of today’s best authors and creators that are written specifically for use in the classroom and coupled with lessons. A very unique and extensive resource.
The perfect site for lessons on how to create comics in the classroom. Your students don’t have to be expert cartoonists to take advantage of the lessons and templates that Jeff Sharp offers here- but they will be engaged and excited when you share these with them!
Climb to the Top of Bloom’s: Create Some Comics…
These links will take you to different sites that help students create their own comics. Before doing this, however, I recommend that you take a look at this slideshow: Tap Into the World of Comics. It provides an extensive list of comic book creators (some of which may not be appropriate for your classroom, depending on the age of your students) and 26 ideas for how to incorporate the creation of comics into your everyday instruction. Most of the sites listed below, except Pixton, do not require an account or log-in to use.
A user-friendly comics creator that allows you to create your own characters, pose them, and place them in panels that you control every aspect of. Sign-up for a free account just for personal use or purchase a School account that allows you to create an online classroom for your students, assign them lesson, check their progress, and assign grades.
Your students will love this page- not only does it allow them to create their own comics using some of Marvel’s most famous heroes, it also has a small library of digital comics that they can read. When they are creating, they have the option to choose between a short, three panel comic or an entire 22-page comic book.
The beauty of this site is it’s simplicity. Students choose from a number of predrawn characters and write dialogue for them in a short, three panel comic. The editing tools allow students to control the size, placement, layer, and pose of their characters. The site also offers writing prompts for students that have trouble coming up with a story and, impressively, the ability for students to write in a number of different languages. The cartoonish characters and humorous slant of the site will appeal to students of all ages. It is also notable that Make Beliefs includes characters from all walks of life: young, old, majority, minority, disabled, enabled, and (of course)… anthropomorphic. Everyone is represented here
There are no ready-made characters here… which is part of the fun at this site. Chogger offers students the option of drawing their own characters using their online drawing tool, taking a picture with a webcam, or uploading ready-made images (which could be scanned in drawings). All of these can have text bubbles inserted over them and this, combined with the creation of the images, offers some unique opportunities for personal expression. Chogger does offer people the opportunity to share what they make and, as far as I can tell, has no limitations on what people can post, so it may contain content that is inappropriate for your students.
A useful, though very limited, comic creator from this great educational site. The nice thing here is that Read Write Think offers a number of lessons that can be used in conjunction with the comic creator.
A very simple comic creator that allows students to change backgrounds and characters, but not much else. The focus here is on dialogue creation, which could be very useful in a presentational setting. The fact that the characters look like they belong in an office building and the backgrounds available are… well… not an office building will offer students with a sense of humor some creative options.