The recent interest in comics as a literacy tool comes as graphic novels have cemented their status as sophisticated works of literature, and as teachers nationwide are struggling to boost reading scores. Proponents of comics in the classroom say that they can lure struggling readers who may be intimidated by pages crammed with text. They also say that comics, with their visual cues and panel-by-panel sequencing, are uniquely situated to reinforce key elements of literacy, like story structure and tone.
The piece focuses specifically on the State of Maryland’s Comics in the Classroom initiative, which TOON Books is participating in, and includes commentary by TOON Books Editorial Director Françoise Mouly. Other individuals quoted in the piece include Lisa Von Drasek of the Bank Street College of Education and New York University’s Diane Ravitch, who sounds a dissenting note. Following publication, several readers responded to the article with letters to the Times, offering support and testimony in favor of comics’ utility as tools for early readers.