In recent years, the educational community has come to recognize that comic books and graphic novels can be excellent instructional tools. The Maryland State Department of Education believes that comic books can serve as a conduit to book reading and help motivate reluctant readers as well as engage and stimulate outstanding students.
Several years ago, the MSDE developed an instructional team of teachers, principals, administrators and comic book experts to develop strategies for introducing comics in the classroom as part of Maryland’s Voluntary State Curriculum. Under the title Comics in the Classroom, Maryland’s Comic Book Initiative, the MSDE worked with Disney Publishing and Diamond Comic Book Distributors to develop educational strategies and an instructional toolkit for reading instruction in third and fourth grades. The toolkit was piloted in eight elementary schools and evaluated by outside researchers at University of Maryland Baltimore County. The results of the study were very positive, and have led to efforts to continue and expand the program.
In a new phase of the initiative starting this spring, MSDE will be selecting a number of Maryland elementary schools, on a first come first serve basis, to work on further developing the graphic novel/comic book project. These schools will receive an updated toolkit of lesson plans and class materials in exchange for feedback and ideas for future Comics in the Classroom programs.
Concurrent with the program for third grade classes, there is also an opportunity geared toward first and second grade classes. Francoise Mouly, Art Editor of The New Yorker, and her husband, Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prizing-winning author of MAUS, have teamed up to create and publish TOON Books, a new series of comics for beginning readers. Interested Maryland elementary school teachers will be able to receive advance copies of three of these books. If a teacher submits a sample lesson for one or more of the books, he or she is eligible to win a full classroom set of books for the students. To learn more about TOON Books, please visit www.toon-books.com
Over 130 1st and 2nd grade teachers in Maryland were invited to submit lesson plans for TOON Books Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons and Otto’s Orange Day! The winning entries are posted here and on the TOON Books official website. Congratulations to the winners!
Benny and Penny in Just Pretend
Lesson Plan by Patricia Phillips
Phelps Luck Elementary School
Otto's Orange Day
Lesson Plan by Kathryn Kavlick
Indian Head Elementary School
Indian Head, MD
For more information about the Maryland Comic Book Initiative, please see the MD State Department of Education's Comics in the Classroom website.
If you are a Maryland school teacher and are interested in participating in the Comic Book Initiative, please contact:
Dr. Darla Strouse / Office of the State Superintendent of Schools
Maryland State Department of Education / 200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD21201 / Fax: 410-333-2226/ Phone: 410-767-0370
If you are in a school district or educational area outside of Maryland and are interested in developing your own comic book initiative program, please contact:
Mark Banaszak / Graphic Novel Marketing Associate
Diamond Comic Distributors/ 1966 Greenspring Drive, Suite 300
Timonium, MD21093/ email@example.com