Monday, May 12, 2008

Graphic Novel Week: ADVENTURES IN GRAPHICA by Terry Thompson

I just received my copy of ADVENTURES IN GRAPHICA: USING COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS TO TEACH COMPREHENSION, 2-6 by Terry Thompson. I mentioned it a while back--looking forward to its release.

This is a much needed book--one I have been waiting for for a while.

One of my favorite lines in this new book is, "So, it all started with a struggling reader and a comic book, and I've been hooked ever since." Terry Thompson realized long before many of us, how to use graphic novels and comic books to meet the needs of all of his readers, especially those who struggle.

There is so much to love about this book. First of all, it is VERY comprehensive. Thompson includes everything from definitions of the types of graphica to classroom examples. This is by far, the most comprehensive book I have seen for teachers of reading on the topic. He has found ways to use graphica to teach so many important reading skills. He fits graphica into all components of the literacy block--guided reading, lit circles, shared reading and read aloud. He talks about the actual teaching and also gives ideas for making comics accessible to students and for helping keep them from getting wrinkled, ruined, etc.

Much of this book will help teachers use graphica with all of their students. But he does have specific tips and thoughts for working with boys, girls, and English Language Learners.

One of the things that I find the most powerful is the way that Thompson talks about comprehension with comics and graphic novels. He shares great ideas and strategies for using these to help students with higher level comprehension skills. Then he talks pretty specifically about how to use what they learn in this medium to transfer to other formats of text. He understands the draw of comics and how to use those well, but then to expand the learning to other types of text.

Another thing that makes this book so amazing is the resources that he helps us with. As an elementary teacher, and a non-graphica reader, it is hard for me to determine which books are appropriate for my elementary students. Thompson gives us many resources--websites, titles and publishers--that are appropriate for readers in grades 2-6. He also provides a selection guide to help teachers think through specific characteristics of this medium when selecting text for students.

Like I said earlier, this book is very comprehensive and I am thrilled to have it. This is an area that I have wanted to think more about lately. Before ADVENTURES IN GRAPHICA, I'd find a bit of info here and a bit more there, but I had trouble pulling it all together and figuring out how to best us these in my teaching. This book pulls it all together for me plus gives me so much more.

On a side note, rumor has it that this book is SOOO popular that it was seen on at least one runner at this year's Boston Marathon. See below:


  1. Great review! As a non-graphica reader mom of a graphica reading son, I am looking forward to checking out Terry's info and list of websites on which books fit 2-3 graders.

  2. This sounds great--I'll have to check this out to see how I can use this to help my struggling reader. Thanks!


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