Professional Resources for Using Comics and Graphic Novels

On Monday I led a workshop for teachers on teaching with comics that included tips and project ideas, lesson plans, printables, free online comics, and free comic creation tools.  In Wednesday’s blog post I shared the online resources I’ve compiled for using comics in the classroom, but I didn’t share any print books.  Here are some professional resources to consider if you want to learn more about using comics in the classroom:

teaching early reader comicsTeaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels
by Katie Monnin
For teachers who want to use comics with elementary learners, this resource provides standards, lesson ideas, and reproducibles for students in Kindergarten up through 6th grade.  Each section includes sample lessons and a bibliography of comics and graphic novels to use with students.  Here’s an interview with the author from the Cynsations blog in which she talks about media literacy, teaching with graphic novels, and the companion book to this one for older students titled Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom.

using graphic novels in the classroomUsing Graphic Novels in the Classroom Grd 4-8
by Melissa Hart
This book can be used with upper elementary and middle school students to help them analyze the graphic novel format and use that understanding to write and draw their own comics.  Standards-based lessons are supplemented with graphic organizers and reproducibles.

using graphic textsUsing Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning: A Guide for Middle-Level Educators
by Meryl Jaffe
This is a resource to use with upper elementary and middle-grade students with a focus on using graphic novels as texts to convey content information.  The book includes separate chapters for Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies that include standards-based lesson ideas and bibliographies of recommended titles.  Here are some online articles written by the author.

comic strip mathComic-Strip Math: Problem Solving: 80 Reproducible Cartoons With Dozens and Dozens of Story Problems That Motivate Students and Build Essential Math Skills
by Dan Greenberg
Teachers of grades 3-6 who want to add a spark to their math lessons will want to consider this book, which introduces word problems with a silly comic strip that puts the math into context for the students.  Don’t limit yourself to the reproducible pages here; use this as a springboard for your students to create their own comics and story problems!

using comic artUsing Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing
by Steve Bowkett
This book can be used in all classrooms to help students understand the writing and speaking process through what they know about comics and graphic novels, and to help them understand the concept of making pictures in their minds as they read text.  It explains how comics offer the perfect condensed version of a story to illustrate writing conventions such as a strong opening and closing, a problem and a solution, creating suspense with pacing, etc.  It also includes a section on non-fiction writing and a bibliography.

teaching visual literacyTeaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills
by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher
The focus of this book is on visual and media literacy, and explains how graphic novels and cartoons can spark thought-provoking discussions and lessons.  It includes a chapter on political cartoons – which can be used in social studies classes- as well as chapters on picture books and films.  These are not lesson plans, but rather essays and articles presenting background information, research findings, and advice for including visual literacy in the curriculum.  The authors share additional resources at their website, Literacy for Life.

Do you have a resource to recommend?  Please share it in the comments!


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WWW – Comics in the Classroom with Symbaloo

By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year! This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

symbaloo comics webmix

This week’s WWW is Comics in the Classroom
Hosted by Symbaloo

This week you are getting a two-fer!

Symbaloo is an ancient Greek verb meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘assembling’ and perfectly reflects the mission of the company: to allow users to gather various websites into one central location. It’s simple to create a “webmix” (their term for a grid of links) by simply copying and pasting the desired URL into Symbaloo.

You can create as many separate webmixes as you want, and you can set each one to either be Public or Private. Some teachers use it to organize their own resources; others use it to share sites with students.

Basic accounts are free, but a paid premium version is available. Symbaloo also offers an Education version. From the site: “SymbalooEDU accounts come with preset educational webmixes pre-installed that are continuously updated with the latest and greatest educational sites recommended by our Symbaloo Certified educators.”

As you can see from the screenshot at the top of this email, I used Symbaloo to gather all my comic resources onto one page. Even if you missed the Comics in the Classroom workshop on Monday, I hope you will take time to explore these links. There are ideas here for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.  You’ll find:

  • articles, tips, and lesson plans for teaching with comics (green squares)
  • free printables (purple squares)
  • blogs devoted to selecting comics and graphic novels for kids (white square)
  • free online general comic creation tools (blue squares)
  • free online topic-specific comic creation tools (orange squares)
  • free online comics (pink squares)
  • anti-bullying unit for students (yellow squares)

The two Promethean flipcharts I used in the workshop are Teaching With Comics and Understanding How Comics Tell a Story.  If you have ActivInspire installed on your computer, you can download these flipcharts for your own use.


p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at Netvibes, along with all of the previous WWW websites.
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WWW – Learn 360

By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year!  This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

learn-360 logo

This week’s WWW is Learn 360

Everyone is feeling the loss of United Streaming this year, so I’m happy to announce that our replacement streaming video service, Learn 360, is up and running!

The screenshots below will walk you through setting up your account:

Click on the tab for NEW USERS and enter your passcode (if you don’t know it, see your school librarian or technology coach)

 Learn 360 New Users


Complete your profile to REGISTER

Learn 360 Register


There’s a Help Center (circled in green below) to get you started with tutorials and how-to tips, and it even features a live chat option if you need additional assistance.

There’s also a Lesson Plan area (circled in pink below) that takes you to a page of topic links.  (There’s not much on the Lesson Plan page right now; I hope that will change soon.)

And you can sign up for the Learn 360 newsletter (circled in red below) to get monthly updates on new content and features.

Learn 360 Help


Have fun exploring the resources available here!

You can also follow @Learn360 on Twitter.

p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at Netvibes, along with all of the previous WWW websites.


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WWW: International Dot Day Website


This week’s WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) is….

dot day logo

The International Dot Day website!

Monday, September 15, is International Dot Day, inspired by the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds!

In Peter’s words: “In this book, we meet a girl named Vashti who has convinced herself she can not draw. Her teacher dares her to make a mark. Vashti makes one little dot on her sheet of paper… which turns out to be the beginning of her creative journey!  But The Dot is more than a book about art. It is a book that encourages us to be brave about expressing ourselves. It gently reminds us to start small and explore the IDEA. It is also a tribute to great teachers who know how to use humor, “off-the-path” approaches, and who have the vision to see the possibilities in EVERY student. The book ends off with Vashti sharing this gift with others, beginning a ripple of inspiration.”

If you want to use Dot Day to inspire your students, you can…

  • Click here to download a copy of the Dot Day Educator’s Handbook
  • Share the book with your students via Tumblebooks  (I’m sharing it with 4th and 5th grade during related arts this week.)
  • Schedule a class visit to the library next week for a Dot Day story time or art activity
 p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at, along with all of the previous WWW websites.
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Comfort Reading

I have not been feeling well for the last week or so, and while I’ve been making it in to work, it’s only through the use of coffee and sugar that I’ve been getting through my days. My afternoons and evenings have mostly been spent with a good book, and by that I mean an old favorite. When I’m sick, I just want to curl up with a “comfort book” that I know and love. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

candymakers The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
I love the way she manages to surprise the reader with one plot twist after another, even though she’s telling the same story three times from three different points of view.

skulduggery pleasant Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy
Equal parts wit and action, I just revel in the clever banter between the skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleaant and 12-year-old Stephanie (aka Valkyrie Cain) as they battle evil together.

red blazer girls The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael Beil
I was a huge Nancy Drew fan growing up, and this modern-day “girl detective” story takes me right back to my youth. So glad it’s just the first in a series!

penderwicks The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy byJeanne Birdsall
This is another book that reminds me of my childhood reading because the family reminds me of the Melendy siblings in the book The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. (So glad that series was re-released!) The four sisters in this book are all individuals, but they have a wonderful all-for-one-and-one-for-all family spirit.

no more dead dogs No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
The premise of this book grabbed me immediately, because I have a firm and unwavering aversion to sad dog books. I wish Wallace Wallace (yes, that’s his name) could transform some actual tragic dog stories (Old Yeller, I’m looking at you) the way he did Old Shep, My Pal. Definitely one of my all-time favorite authors, Korman is one of the few who can actually make me laugh out loud while I’m reading, and as they say: Laughter is the best medicine!

Which books are your comfort reading? Please leave a comment and share them!



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First Day with First Grade

I saw the first 1st grade class of the year on Friday, and we had a great time together! I like to mix it up with them because if we spend too long sitting still in one spot they either get the fidgety-wigglies or they fall asleep!

mr. wiggles bookWe begin by sitting on the story rug while I read Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula Craig, and we discuss all the things that make Mr. Wiggle sad when people don’t take care of books. Unfortunately the book is out of print now, and the prices on Amazon (at the time of this posting) are ridiculous! If you have a copy of the book, it’s a great introduction to book care for younger students, and it leads right into a fun song.

Wwhaddaya think of thate talk about what we see on the cover of the book — Mr. Wiggle wearing his reading glasses and “holding” a book — and then I introduce them to These Are My Glasses from the CD Whaddaya Think of That by Laurie Berkner. We then sing the chorus together a few times, using simple motions to act it out, and the kids love it! (By the way, when you order the CD from Amazon, you get the mp3 version free with your purchase.)

2-Mr. Wiggle0003

Mr. Wiggle is sad when you throw your library book.

Then we move to the library tables and review book care with a Mr. Wiggle powerpoint on the Promethean board. Finally, I hand out drawing paper and crayons and ask students to draw a picture of Mr. Wiggle, and a picture of something you should or should not do when borrowing a library book.  We talk about the “No” symbol (at the end of the book, and on slide 8 of the powerpoint) and they feel extremely sophisticated when they use it on their Do Not drawings! 1-Mr. Wiggle0002

If we have time, I allow volunteers to share their pictures with the class. We then practice the song one more time so they can sing it for their teacher when she picks them up.

I love to hear how indignant the kids sound when they tell me about things that are bad for books. Most of them take book care very seriously, which is just the way I like it!


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The WWW is Back!

One of the ways I’ve shared technology with my teachers in the past is to email them a WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) to share an online resource that might be useful in the classroom.  Starting today I’m resuming those emails, and I’ll be sharing the sites here as well.  I’ve also created an archive of all the sites I’ve shared so far so that teachers can find a particular website without having to search through a list of emails.

Today’s WWW is…

discuskids    DISCUS Kids

The South Carolina State Library provides access to $2.2 million worth of research, reference, and learning resources for students in our state via the DISCUS website.
These resources include:

  • Britannica Elementary (general encyclopedia)
  • BrainPop Jr.  (early elementary lessons and online activities)
  • CultureGrams (social studies resources)
  • Kids InfoBits  (general encyclopedia, with magazine and newspaper articles)
  • NovelList K-8 Plus  (fiction and nonfiction book recommendations)
  • Searchasaurus  (kid-friendly search engine)
  • Biography in Context (biographical information, including photos and videos)

If you don’t live in South Carolina, I’m sorry to say that you can’t access these databases.  If you do live in South Carolina, I hope you’ll take advantage of them!

Discus Kids



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Amazon Prime: Free Trial for College Students!

Just wanted to pass along the information on this Student Prime deal from Amazon for those of you who are enrolled in graduate school, or who are taking a re-certification college course:  You can get a six-month FREE trial of Amazon Prime that includes free two-day shipping on your purchases with no minumum order!  (Perfect for ordering those books you hear about on Twitter and just can’t wait to read!)  Amazon also offers special deals and discounts for students, and pays you a $10 credit when you refer a friend!

amazon prime logo  When the six-month trial ends, you can then enroll in Amazon Prime for just $49 (half off the normal $99 rate) and receive: unlimited instant streaming of their 41,000 movies & TV episodes; unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs and hundreds of playlists; and a free monthly download of one of over 500,000 Kindle books.

Sound good?  Unfortunately I’m not a college student, so I’m paying full price for my Prime membership, but maybe you qualify for the discount!

From the Amazon website:

Your Amazon Student membership starts once you’ve filled out the application form and your .edu email address is validated.  You can enjoy all the benefits of being an Amazon Student member, even if you don’t have a .edu email address!  If you’re able to provide proof of enrollment in at least one course at a college or university located in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, you may be eligible to enroll in Amazon Student through an alternative process. To provide proof of enrollment, please send an e-mail to [email protected] from the e-mail address associated with your account. In the message, include a scan, photo or screenshot of one of the following:

• Your student ID displaying the current term or an expiration date; just a student ID number is not valid
• Your transcript or class list for the current term with your name and your school’s name on it
• Your tuition bill for the current term with your name and your school’s name on it
• An official acceptance letter for the upcoming term (must include matriculation date)

If we determine you’re eligible, we’ll send you a follow-up email within 3-5 business days that contains a link which allows you to complete the signup process without a .edu email address.

   Just click the Amazon Student icon to get started!

If you can’t view the Amazon Student icon, just click here.

And don’t forget to download the free Kindle Reading App on your computer at school so you can share your Kindle ebooks with your students on your interactive whiteboard!


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Story Style with Polyvore

I have been playing around on Polyvore — the fashion and style website — this summer and having a lot of fun with it, and I keep thinking that if I enjoy it, some of my upper elementary girls would probably enjoy using it too.  I’ve been noodling around for a couple of weeks to come up with ways to make it educational as well as entertaining, and that’s how Story Style was born!


My idea is that students can use the Polyvore database of clothing and images (or upload their own) to create outfits that fictional characters might wear, like the above example of clothes for Fern from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  Here I have re-imagined her as a modern-day girl caring for a runty pig on a farm, wearing overalls and rubber boots.

Here’s another example using historical fiction:

Molly from the MEET MOLLY SeriesOne from the fairy tale genre):

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror Mirror on the Wall by lori-june

And one from realistic fiction:

Clementine from the CLEMENTINE Series by Sara Pennypacker illus. by Marla Frazee

Clementine from the CLEMENTINE Series
by Sara Pennypacker illus. by Marla Frazee

clementine(Can’t you just picture Clementine doing a cartwheel?!)

And can you guess who this is?



babymouse queenOf course it’s Babymouse, from the series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm!

I can see students using this at a library learning center, and I can also envision teachers allowing students to create outfits for characters they meet in classroom novels (and justifying their clothing choices in a paragraph of persuasive writing) as an extension activity.  I could also hold  contests for students to create an outfit for a particular character; you’d have to Read the Book to Nail the Look!

I may also post some of these clothing sets on my kids book blog (Book Buzz) as interactives.  For example, students could look at the Junie B. Jones clothing set below and leave a comment voting for their favorite outfit.

Junie B. Jones: Pink or Blue?


I have created a StoryStyle Collection at Polyvore where I’ll be adding new sets periodically. Want to give it a try yourself?  I’d love to see — and share — your creations!  Just leave a comment here with the link to your Polyvore set(s), or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune.  I’ll be using the hashtag #StoryStyle on Twitter, so watch for it!

p.s. Polyvore is available online, or as a free iTunes or Android app.  :)

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Celebrating Summer Reading

Do you celebrate with your students who read over the summer?  I do!

Summer Reading Banner Filled

Every year we have a Summer Reading Ice Cream Sundae Party for students who read over the summer.  I require students to provide some sort of documentation of the reading they did — an official certificate or list of books read from a library or bookstore program, or a signed reading log that I provide for them.  (Click here if you would like to download a copy of the reading log I created.)

I ask parent volunteers to provide the ice cream and toppings, and to help with serving and crowd control.  (I also have one or two adults at the door with a checklist to make sure no one slips through uninvited!)  PTA assists us by decorating our cafeteria for the party, and our Art teacher makes a banner where everyone posts a favorite summer book.

Take a look at our video from last year’s festivities:

If you do something different to promote summer reading, please share it in the comments!



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