Steve Jobs: Genius By Design

Steve JobsSteve Jobs: Genius by Design
By: Jason Quinn and Amit Tayal
Publisher: Campfire
Format: Softcover, 5 x 7, 104 pages, Full Color
ISBN: 978-9-38002-876-7

Steve Jobs was the most significant inventor and forward-thinking philosopher to span and brilliantly bridge the gap between the 20th and 21st century's emerging technological and media needs. His legacy and his impact on the world today may never be equaled. His passion, his search for perfection and simplicity (he always had the consumer's sense of convenience in mind), and his search for a futuristic-vision were unique to him and him alone. And even though we know he stands alone, we also know there will most certainly be more inventors and significant thinkers in the realm of communication and technology to come, hopefully from our very own current generation of students. At the end of the day, however, I would bet that whatever our younger generations' innovations and ideas may be they will be traced back to Steve Jobs. For this reason, I strongly believe we should teach today's students about this brilliant, challenging, and dynamic man, a man who who was human (just like all of us), who made mistakes (just like we all do), and who succeeded and failed (just like everyone of us has done at one time or another). But, in Steve Jobs' case students can further learn how to persevere no matter what life brings to them. Ousted from the Apple company he originally created, Jobs persevered and worked harder to jump over obstacles that stood in his way. In the end, he even out-jumped himself, persevering over Apple's ousting and coming back as CEO. Steve Jobs was not only the mind behind Apple and its success, but also its heart and soul.  

Campfire presents a graphic novel biography of this legendary and contemporary man in such detail that teachers, parents, librarians, and students will inevitably feel empowered and inspired to think anew about the capabilities they themselves have in regards to their dreams and inspirations for the future.  

Keeping legendary and spiritual company with Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers and many more, Steve Jobs' life is an inspirational platform from which we can all learn from and be inspired by. As Jobs said in his June 2005 Stanford University commencement address: "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
Elements of Story
Plot: The life of Steve Jobs

Major Characters: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula, Mike Scott, Jef Raskin, John Sculley, Johy Ive, Tim Cook, Mona Simpson, Chrisann Brennan, Laurene Powell, John Lasseter, Dan Kottke, Kobun Chino

Settings: Steve's childhood home, Apple facilities, marketing campaigns, snapshots of Jobs' personal life and locations

Themes: Identity, Individuality, Community, Collaboration, Family, Dreams and Goals

Suggested Literary Pairings: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglas, Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Reading Common Core Standards Alignment*

Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Craft and Structure
5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Range of reading and Level of text Complexity
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

* Numbering corresponds to the Common Core Standards numbering organization.

Example Lesson Plan for Middle and/or High School Readers

On the opening pages of Steve Jobs: Genius by Design the creators of this graphic novel provide readers with an inspiring and thought-provoking chart-like progression of Steve Jobs, from life to death.  Because this page is so sincerely thoughtful and well-executed I encourage teachers to make a copy of it for all of their students, before they begin to read. 
Before they read, ask students to take notes on the back of their handout. "What do they see or notice in the chart? What do they predict?" Engage the class first in small groups. Then, ask the class to share their small group notes with the rest of the class.  

As students read the graphic novel ask them to turn their handout back over (to the front-side which shows the evolution of Steve Jobs) and write down specific page numbers where important transitions/moments take place.

Finally, have students build from this image and page number documentation into an essay. The prompt could read: "Given all of the information (pages numbers) and visuals you have noted, write a chronological essay that highlights the key moments in Steve Jobs' life."


Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.