Reading with Pictures

Monday, January 14, 2008

Michael Bitz, who runs the Comic Book Project at the Teachers College at Columbia University, and Francoise Mouly, the art editor at The New Yorker and the editorial director of TOON Books, discuss a new curriculum that uses Comic books as teaching tools.

Plus, Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, weighs in on the merits of the image as instructor.


Michael Bitz, Francoise Mouly and Barbara Tversky

Comments [16]

Karen Wenborn from UK

As new publisher of graphic novel versions of Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte et al we've found that the response from children, parents and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. Our free downloads of the Shakespeare set texts launched in December, have been downloaded circa 100,000 times. Not just UK teachers using them, but emails of thanks from all over the world.
They are here
and vaialble to all.

Feb. 13 2008 06:56 AM
Freddy Jenkins

Teaching with comics makes perfect sense, especially with the expansion of a media culture that’s highly visual. For me, comics were a great introduction to some pretty complex ideas—or even tackled issues better than most all-text representations. I still will never forget that it was comic adventure stories that illuminated American military adventures in Russia during its civil war and its occupation of the Philippines—stuff that I never learned in 12 years of public school or 4 years of college.

And “zounds” I believe is from “God’s Wounds!” or “ ‘s Wounds!”—an old fashioned swear that pops up in Shakespeare and others.

Jan. 14 2008 12:36 PM

Does the Elizabethan oath/interjection "zounds!" really show up in comic books??

Jan. 14 2008 11:59 AM
Arthur Tebbel from Brooklyn

Comics were a huge influence on me as a young reader. My parents are big comic readers and the material was made available to me as far back as I can remember.

I agree with the caller who said that comics increased his vocabulary. While all comics might not be written to the most advanced audience almost all of them are written with a more advanced vocabulary than a four or five year-old possesses. Long multi-part stories also likely helped my transition from one-off stories to chapter books more readily as a child.

Jan. 14 2008 11:59 AM
Leon Freilich from Park Slope


Teaching methods

Need to be flexed;

Time for stretching,

For graphic text.

Jan. 14 2008 11:56 AM
Benita Black from Greenwich Village

I heard you ask the meaning of "Zounds." It comes from "God's wounds," and the original pronunciation was "zoonds" and not "zownds."

Jan. 14 2008 11:54 AM
MN from Rockefeller Center

Zounds is a shortening of "God's wounds" (i.e. wounds of Christ from the Crucifixion) and used to be a profanity ("bloody" has a similar origin). It's like the "'swounds" you see a lot in Shakespeare.

Jan. 14 2008 11:53 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

'Zounds comes from Shakespeare. It is an abbreviation of "God's Wounds" that was popular during his lifetime

Jan. 14 2008 11:52 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

I haven't been a huge comic book reader in the past, but I have read some graphic novels that have dealt with serious and complex issues in very touching and sophisticated ways. Specifically the comic-style series "Maus," which illustrates a holocaust survivor's memoir through storyboards, is a great example of some really high class literature in this form.

Jan. 14 2008 11:51 AM

Excelsior, Brian!

Jan. 14 2008 11:51 AM
Helen Webb from ct

My very first memory of really being able to read was at the supermarket while my mom was shopping. That was when I would read the comics, The one that I remember was an Illustrated Classic, of Joan of Arc. What I remember was the feeling of being able to get the story and how wonderful that feeling was. I was probably in first grade. I'm a prolific reader now.
I think it is a great idea to introduce, why it isn't already done?

Jan. 14 2008 11:50 AM
Al from Queens

Zounds (pronounced Zoonds) is old english for God's Wounds. Common in Shakespeare

Jan. 14 2008 11:50 AM
John from Jersey City, NJ

I studied Graphic Design at the University of Georgia. For my History of Design class I had to give a presentation for which I chose to talk about comics as a graphic medium. I used Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud as a reference. That book is now a required text book for the Graphic Design program at UGA.

Jan. 14 2008 11:49 AM
Elizabeth Lastique from nyc

I am the program director for a not for profit children's arts organization (CAW4Kids). We just had a comic book reading & signing yesterday at the Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem for a comic book written and produced by middle school children in an after school program. The kids wrote and drew about what they would do if they became president:

Jan. 14 2008 11:47 AM
Sammi Malek from NYC

I moved to the States at the age of 15 and did not speak any English, so when I enrolled in 11th grade English, I could not follow the class when they read Macbeth. So the teacher gave me a comic book version of Macbeth and that's how I was able to participate in the class. The experience was very interesting and really helped me out with feeling like I was part of the class, but also giving me something I could handle. In retrospect, I think she was quite clever to do that and made me less afraid of tackling Shakespeare with my limited English.

Jan. 14 2008 11:46 AM
chestine from NY

That's old hat in France where they call these books "bande dessiné" - I remember being shocked to see a medical doctor reading hardbound comic books to relax.

Jan. 14 2008 11:38 AM

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