Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing  book cover
1st Edition

Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing

ISBN 9780415675512
Published December 16, 2011 by Routledge
186 Pages 97 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing uses children’s interest in pictures, comics and graphic novels as a way of developing their creative writing abilities, reading skills and oracy. The book’s underpinning strategy is the use of comic art images as a visual analogue to help children generate, organise and refine their ideas when writing and talking about text.

In reading comic books children are engaging with highly complex and structured narrative forms. Whether they realise it or not, their emergent visual literacy promotes thinking skills and develops wider metacognitive abilities. Using Comic Art not only motivates children to read more widely, but also enables them to enjoy a richer imagined world when reading comics, text based stories and their own written work.

The book sets out a range of practical techniques and activities which focus on various aspects of narrative, including:

  • using comic art as a visual organiser for planning writing
  • openings and endings
  • identifying with the reader, using different genres and developing characters
  • creating pace, drama, tension and anticipation
  • includes ‘Kapow!’ techniques to kick start lessons
  • an afterword on the learning value of comics.

The activities in Using Comic Art start from this baseline of confident and competent comic-book readers, and show how skills they already possess can be transferred to a range of writing tasks. For instance, the way the panels on a comic’s page are arranged can serve as a template for organising paragraphs in a written story or a piece of non-fiction writing. The visual conventions of a graphic novel – the shape of speech bubbles or the way the reader’s attention is directed – can inform children in the use of written dialogue and the inclusion of vivid and relevant details.

A creative and essential resource for every primary classroom, Using Comic Art is ideal for primary and secondary school teachers and TAs, as well as primary PGCE students and BEd, BA Primary Undergraduates.

Table of Contents

Introduction – comic art as a visual organiser for planning writing

Chapter 1: Strong Openings.

Chapter 2: Opening lines.

Chapter 3: What do you want the reader to see?

Chapter 4: Details add to the tension.

Chapter 5: Jump into the action.

Chapter 6: Small Important Details.

Chapter 7: Drawing as visual shorthand.

Chapter 8: Scripting.

Chapter 9 Strong Endings.

Chapter 10: Creating Quick Characters.

Chapter 11: Don’t take that tone with me.

Chapter 12: Heroes and Villains.

Chapter 13: Controlling Pace.

Chapter 14: Build up the drama.

Chapter 15: Anticipation.

Chapter 16: Genre.

Chapter 17: Using Kapow Techniques for Art Appreciation.

Chapter 18: Kapow techniques and non-fiction writing.

Chapter 19: A note on rough layouts.

Chapter 20: Afterword – the learning value of comics.



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Steve Bowkett taught English for twenty years and is now a full-time educational consultant, writer and storyteller. He is the author of more than fifty-five books including Jumpstart! Creativity and The Countdown to Writing series for Routledge.

Tony Hitchman has over thirty-five years of experience teaching throughout the primary age range in a variety of schools, culminating in eleven years as a primary headteacher. He has written scripts for the comic publisher DC Thompson and contributed cartoons to various small press publications.

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Support Material


  • Additional Resources

    This page contains additional material to accompany the Kapow! book, including The Dreamstones educational resource which combines story maps, scene breakdowns and further activities for encouraging children’s’ creative writing abilities. This material is all downloadable and made ready for you to print and use in the classroom.

    Click on the links below to view and download the materials for your class. These materials are to be used only by practitioners. Illicit distribution of these materials is prohibited.

    The Dreamstones Notes

    The Dreamstones: Years 4–5

    The Dreamstones: Years 5–6

    Roman motifs