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Superheroes in the classroom

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a primary school teacher! To be more specific, it’s a teacher who knows that children love super heroes. Comic books and graphic novels are now recognised as a valuable resource in teaching reading. But they also help children learn about important concepts, such as bravery, loyalty and heroism.
“There can be a bit of snobbery when it comes to using such texts in schools, but they can be a brilliant way of bringing literature to reluctant readers, and are particularly useful for those who don’t speak English as their first language,” said The Guardian, in an article published in November, 2015.
“The more sophisticated examples contain the kind of complex themes and language (it’s not all KAPOW! and THWACK!) that will challenge even the highest-achieving students. And, of course, the books are beautiful to look at, combining illustration and text in a unique way.”
Many professionals agree with this assessment. Josh Elders, the founder of Reading With Pictures (an organisation that advocates the use of comics in the classroom) describes them as offering “Three Es”. They are as follows:
Engagement: Comics impart meaning through the reader’s active engagement with written language and juxtaposed sequential images. Readers must actively make meaning from the interplay of text and images, as well as by filling in the gaps between panels.
Efficiency: The comic format conveys large amounts of information in a short time. This is especially effective for teaching content in the subject areas (maths, science, social studies, etc.).
Effectiveness: Processing text and images together leads to better recall and transfer of learning. Neurological experiments have shown that we process text and images in different areas of the brain: known as the Dual-Coding Theory of Cognition. These experiments also indicate that pairing an image with text leads to increased memory retention for both. With comics, students not only learn the material faster, they learn it better.
ARB Books has put together a pack of 48 titles – all quizzed and labelled for Accelerated Reader – that is sure to satisfy every child’s appetite for web-slinging or flying over skyscrapers in pursuit of villains.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a review taken from Amazon for one of the titles, Batman: The Revenge Of Clayface: “If you or your child enjoys comic books, fantasy or science fiction, this is the book for you. A wonderful chapter book for young readers. The illustrations are awesome.”
David Collins - May 2016
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