Blog 3: Comics can be great aids with reading!


Comics and graphic novels are sometimes looked down on when working with students due to them being non-classic style literature. Sure the words are not laid out in paragraphs or in a poem, but there are words and the students can analyze what is on the page. When a student is struggling with a text why not try to limit the words in front of them at a time?

While text in comic books is usually limited more to dialogue between the characters there is still many aspects of traditional literature that one can review with your students. In fact one can even examine the same stories as the rest of the class due to many classic texts being re-released as graphic novels. Students can use them to explore imagery, tropes, scene setup, and storylines just as well as their text only counterparts with a way to combat issues related to non-readers.

A teacher could also use the graphic novels as a form of visual aid when teaching a story, if one is available for it. Since the page would clearly show the scene in question in detail it would give students a clear visual to represent what is going on. While it may not help their word comprehension as much it still permits the construction of literacy skills and allows students that are behind to catch up somewhat to the class at large in a format they can comprehend. A full true book means nothing if a student cannot read it.

Michael Strom had much to say about this concept in his graduate thesis “Finding Comfort in Comics: Using Comic Books and Graphic Novels to Reach Struggling Male Readers.” However he made a case for this medium to transition to other subjects. One idea he had for math in particular was “was able to draw pictures to solve them. I was the creative type growing up, and always jumped at the chance to showcase my skills across content areas. My love for art and reading helped me in math, allowing me to synthesize information that I couldn’t tackle on my own.” And his points about other aspects of using comics to teach have already been proven.

Many instructions are laid out in an easy to follow pictorial formats. From IKEA constructions to America employing comics to teach equipment maintenance comics have given a clear, easy to follow instructional guide on how to carry out instructions or to even convey information in a far clearer manner than just words. Sure, it can be had to obtain the art needed for things, but if you can it is more than likely a good option to go ahead and do so.


Elder, Josh. Reading With Pictures: Comics That Make Kids Smarter, an anthology of comic strips aligned with Common Core standards.

Manno, Michelle & Strom, Michael (January 17, 2014). Turning Struggling Students into Superheroes: Comic Books as Teaching Tools. Teach. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Blog 3: Comics can be great aids with reading!

  1. Robin Smith

    I, too, think this is an important topic. We need to get away from thinking we can get students to improve their reading unless we can get them to actually read and read and read. Anything that helps them to enjoy reading, is a great resource. Graphic novels are also wonderful in helping poor readers develop the background knowledge they need to understand what is being described and to begin creating the visuals in their own heads that they need to become truly proficient readers. Studies show that students frequently reread graphic novels numerous times; re-reading the same text is one of the best ways to develop fluency.

  2. Megan Southworth

    I think this is such an important topic. Showing students multiple types of literature are valuable is a great way to keep them engaged and validate their interest.

  3. Danielle Bondurant

    I agree with you completely when you say: “When a student is struggling with a text why not try to limit the words in front of them at a time?” I think much of the reason why some readers struggle is because they feel overwhelmed by having pages of words to read. A graphic novel greatly lessens the amount of words, and also provides visuals to expand comprehension. I think a cool activity to have students do based off of your blog post is to create a graphic novel of their own.

  4. Lauren

    I think you bring up a great point here. Educators tend to shy away from graphic novels or comic books because they don’t see the value in their format. However, you spread out the argument nicely here by establishing the graphic novels benefits. I agree that they should be considered as an alternative to reading a difficult novel or used in a compare and contrast situation. I took a graphic novel class at Longwood and it opened my eyes to the unique, educational possibilities that only graphic novels can offer. Students can analyze the use of body language, shading, color, and even the physical layout of the page to undercover meaning behind tone, mood, and major themes. The use of a visual in a visual learning generation can be an interactive and fun way for students to pick up the importance in stories including classics.

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