From Educators

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    I'm looking for a basic textbook to give to my students about graphic novels. Any suggestions?

    There are a few standard texts to consider for educating folks about graphic novels. If you're looking for one book for most students, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is still the top of the heap, in my opinion. There are many books about different aspects of the format, so be sure to look into these titles too:
    About the format
    Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner
    Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

    History of the format
    Graphic Novels: Everything you Need to Know by Paul Gravett
    Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of the Graphic Novel by Stephen Weiner

    Graphic Novels and Literacy
    Getting Graphic! Using Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy with Preteens and Teens by Michele Gorman

    Genre Guides and Title Recommendations
    Graphic Novels : a Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More by Michael Pawuk

    These are just a few. Make sure to check out the FAQs for titles on manga as well as specifically for librarians.

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    I'm looking for a basic textbook to give to my students about Japanese manga and/or anime. Any suggestions?

    At this point there are actually far more books that have been written about anime than those written about manga. Most of these titles have been written with an adult audience in mind, too, and so may contain parts that are not suitable for classroom use. That being said, some of my favorite titles include:
    Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics by Paul Gravett
    Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga by Frederik Schodt
    The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revoltion by Frederik Schodt

    Anime Explosion: The What? Why? and Wow! of Japanese Animation by Patrick Drazen
    The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation? by Gilles Poitras

    Genre Guides and Title Recommendations
    Manga: The Complete Guide by Jason Thompson

    And, if I may toot my own horn, my own book Understanding Manga and Anime covers manga, anime, why it's great, what to collect, and how to select great titles.

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    What do you think about the series of nonfiction graphic novels for younger readers?

    These series do fill a definitie niche and I think appeal to kids. I've heard from a lot of children's librarians and school librarians that they are creating interest in topics from reluctant readers. From a graphic novel fan point of view, these titles still leave much to be desired (the art is sub par, the writing clunky, and no one quite seems to understand how to use the format) I admit I wish they were slightly better made, myself, but I'm hoping they'll bring more publishers and artists into the game. For older teens, I prefer the solid creator-driven nonfiction titles like Jim Ottaviani's Dignifying Science or Jay Hosler's Sandwalk Adventures (about Darwin), but I think these series definitely have a place, especially in elementary schools where the point is to spark interests.

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    I'm hoping to teach Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis to my class of seniors in high school. Do you have any suggestions on how to highlight the title for discussion?

    Good for you! It's an excellent book to study, and she's a very interesting writer and creator. We read it, at my suggestion, for my adult book club that I run at the library, and it was a grand discussion.

    I would suggest that you start the discussion with why Satrapi chose to tell this story in this format. When classes study Art Spiegelman's Maus, a lot of readers question why he not only chose to tell that particular story, of a holocaust survivor, in sequential art, but also why he chose to make all of the people into animals. Persepolis shows a lot of the same kind of decision making -- why did she choose sequential art? Does the sequential art do anything that prose can't? How would it feel different to read the same story as prose, or see it as a film, rather than read it in this particular format?

    One resource for this kind of discussion is Scott McCloud's excellent book Understanding Comics. He can get fairly academic, but he very clearly discusses how the format truly works on a reader, what kind of literacy is required, and how some things can be better expressed through image than through words.

    Marjane Satrapi herself speaks very eloquently about her work and Persepolis specifically, so you also might want to include any of the variety of interviews with her as a supplemental document. The book Reading Lolita in Tehran could be another resource -- not so much the entire book, but perhaps read it all yourself and give the class excerpts for them to consider in comparison. Of course, as I'm sure you know, it would be good to give the students a brief history of Iran both pre and post revolution so they have a context for the story. You could also consider different examples in the area (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan) of how Islamic countries treat women, and what it means to be Muslim in all of these environments.

    These are just starting ideas -- I'm sure your students will surprise you with even more questions and discussions.

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    I need advice on which graphic novels to use for my curriculum. Can you help me out?

    We can certainly try! Please send in the specifics of your needs using this form, and we'll see what titles we can recommend. Make sure to give us a date you'll need the list of titles by.

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    Can you point me toward instructions or lesson plans on drawing comics for my students?

    One resource that has a number of lesson plans for using comics to teach writing is a handout called The Secret Origin of Good Readers from the panel of the same name presented by teachers and librarians for many years annually at various comics conventions. You can download the PDF versions here.

    Comics in the Classroom also has a number of writing exercises with comics.