Making Curriculum Pop

I'm proposing a summer enrichment course for 6-8 graders that focuses on reading and creating graphic literature.  The class is 60 minutes per day and lasts six weeks. 


I currently teach High School English so I'm not sure which graphic novels are appropriate or "in" for middle schoolers.



Thus far I was thinking of using:


American Born Chinese

Persepolis I

Fist, Kick, Knife, Gun (although I need to finish reading first before it's a definite).


Please let me know if there are better novels I should be incorporating or any other ideas to add.


thank you,



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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Lindsay,

Great idea, though you might want more time for them to actually draw. Comics are time-intensive. I love the idea of a daily class, though. I'm always teaching once a week college classes, and it can be a long stretch between interaction.

Check out my (ongoing) post about Notables from the Best American Comics 2010--I've put age recommendations on there, and you might find more interesting stories to teach. A few YA books are coming up soon. Friday I'm posting about Troop 142 by Mike Dawson, which is really great.


I've had great results reading Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind w/ 6th graders  .... Q.v. on my site:

I think the students might like Laika (an ultimately sad story about the Russian dog who was first in space) and Bone, a delightful epic adventure. I would definitely follow Jessica's recommendations re drawing, and I like the idea of using works with very different styles so that students have a variety of mentor texts if they want them. Good luck. This sounds like fun. 

Oh, I love Laika, Bone, and Nausicaa, too! Have you read Smile, by Raina Telgemeier? Very strong, and just right for that age group. 


Check out Matt's post on our site today about Foldy comics: they were really fun, and although the duplication can be tricky, the result is a complete book made out of one sheet of paper. 

Thanks for all the ideas I really appreciate it.  I realized the course is only 5 weeks long so maybe I'll read two texts and spend two weeks drawing and creating.


Also I've read a lot of reviews of that too old for middle schoolers?

I'm going to spend a few hours seeing what I can get my hands on through Barnes n Noble.  So far here is my list of texts to inspect:

How I made it to 18

Kick, Fist, KNife, Gun (read)

Persepolis 1 (read)

American Born Chinese (read)

I Kill Giants

Missouri Boy

Pedro and Me




I second the Yummy recommendation. Also, Resistance Book 1 might work well. Aaron Renier's Spiral Bound and The Unsinkable Walker Bean are also quite good.
Another title to consider: Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon. There's no words, so it goes really fast (I spent two class periods reading it with sophomores), but there's a ton to analyze about friendship, betrayal, and regret.
I second the recommendation for Pride of Baghdad and Smile....I also agree with integrating drawing into the lessons---perhaps allow students to take notes or show their learning in picture-drawing.  I think Persepolis might be a little old for 6-8, (especially book II) and I would avoid using Blankets which in my opinion is more appropriate for high school students. Just my opinion though!  I also highly recommend Shaun Tan's The Arrival and Rachel Masilimani's "Two Kinds of People" that can be easily paired with American Born Chinese.  Using wordless excerpts from Will Eisner's New York in the Big City or other titles might also be useful in teaching kids how to read images. Good luck.
I think you should definitely consider Yummy by Neri, Mercury by Larson, Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack by Hale and Hale, and Into the Volcano by Wood. The Graphic Classics are also fun, like the O. Henry collection and many others.

"We Three" by Grant Morrison and "Pride of Baghdad" by Brian K. Vaughan are a little bit violent, but they both tell very compelling stories full of social commentary and criticism of war using animals as the main protagonists.  In case you're interested in something on the lighter side of things, "Power-up"  by Dough Tennapel is another one that is geared more toward a younger set.  It is a really fun story about the dangers of being obsessed with video games that kids this age almost always relate to.

Try Adventures of Walker Bean.  My kids are loving it (5th and  6th graders).

Hi Lindsay,

I am not sure if these attached files wil help, but they are about graphic novels as a learning tool/text in English classes. This was developed as a project by teachers for teachers (at another school in my board).






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