Making Curriculum Pop

Am looking at exploring several graphic novels with middle schoolers/ upper elementary group (5-8).  If anyone can recommend some titles, I would appreciate it.  We are also looking at themes:  explorers, pirates, and history.  Thanks!

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Take a look at Bone by Jeff Smith (links to same themes as Lord of the Rings but in a form accessible to students in the age group you're teaching).

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang has received awards and acclaim--rightly--for the story of a 7th grade boy who is trying to come to terms with his cultural histories and his current middle school identities.

Laika by Nick Abadzis is the story of the dog the Russians sent into space to test the space capsules for the possibility of human flight. It's compelling reading, with a main character that readers will readily attach to (Laika) and with strong values that would make for good discussion.

Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq by Mark Alan Stamaty is "based on true events in the life of a real person," the chief librarian of the Central Library in Basra, Iraq, who gathered neighbors to help her smuggle 30,000 volumes to saftety in 2003 as the war was escalating. It's a powerful story of the value of books and of individual initiative and collective effort.

Osprey Publishing has a series of small, vividly drawn book on specific historical events. I have Day of Infamy: Attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler's Last Gamble: Battle of the Bulge. These are hybrid texts that include not only comics panels (the bulk of each 48-page book) but also a glossary, an introductory "who's who" that introduces readers to the key characters, background material with photographs from the time, and a map or two. I don't enjoy them just for reading, but I can see lots of uses when taught in conjunction with other material on the relevant historical time period.

Good luck. I'm looking forward to seeing what others on this list suggest. If you have a chance, it would be great if you could post back what you end up with.

Can't go wrong with Jeff Smith's Bone, but if you want an exciting new text that explores nauticual adventure, The Adventures of Walker Bean is what I would recommend for you. It's fiction, but it can be a conduit for conversations about exploring, pirating, and human nature.
I have ordered this book and can't wait to read it. Thanks
Hi Phyllis - consider looking at the posts in this discussion forum to get you started - there are A LOT to help you out. To start check out this recent post QUESTION: Just starting with Graphic Novels? Best, Ryan
Thanks everyone!
For those of you who use this, Scholastic Tab Book Club has Bone (Out from Boneville) for $9.00 and Bone - Tall Tales for the same price. Out here in the Northern Mariana Islands, we don't have much money for books so accruing bonus points to buy more books is always great. I am so grateful for the recommendations, and it's off to Amazon. Thanks again
A few books that might work:

Polly and the Pirates is fiction about pirates that might work well.

Larry Gonick's Cartoon History books might be a little helpful, though they do have some adult content you'd need to work around.

James Sturm has done a bunch of US history books from different time periods.

Herge's TinTin books might be helpful, too, because of the geography and infrequent encounters with pirates. Those books are considered classics in many parts of the world.

Lerner Books has a bunch of different graphic novel options, but all I've seen are their myth and legend books (thought they are pretty good):
Thanks for your recommendations. Because Scholastic Book Clubs is featuring some of Jeff Smith's "Bone" books, Scholastic also published a guide listing resources and books to consider:
For Younger Readers
Magic Pickle by Scott Morse
Pilot and Huxley by Dan McGuiness

For Middle Grade Readers
Knights of the Lunch Table by Frank Cammuso
Missile Mouse by Jake Parker
Goosebumps -- there is a series of R.L. Stine anthologies adapted into comic format by different artists
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
The Baby-sitters Club by Ann M. Martin adapted and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Copper by Kazu Kibuishi
Ghostopolis, Iron West, and Monster Zoo by Doug TenNapel (3 separate titles)
Queen Bee by Chynna Clugston

For Young Adult Readers:
The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (of the Spiderwick Chronicles) and Ted Naifeh
Breaking Up: A Fashion High Graphic Novel by Aimee Friedman, Illustrated by Christine Norrie
Malice by Chris Wooding
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Also available from Shaun Tan:
Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan (January 2011)
Into the Volcano by Don Wood

This guide, Using Graphic Novels with Children, is available at online at
and was adapted from a previous Scholastic guide written by Phillip Crawford, Library Director of Essex High School in Vermont, author of Graphic Novels 101: Selecting and Usign Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy for Children an d Young Adults; and Stephen Weiner, Director of the Maynard Public Library in Maynard, Massachusetts, author of many books and article on graphic novels.



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