This is the sixth in a series of ten posts about my recent visit to the 2010 Education Show in Birmingham. They document some of the products that I saw, liked and enjoyed from the exhibition.
I’ve already written about Classical Comics earlier in my review of the 2010 Education Show. I was also really impressed with some of the graphic novels and comics that were on display from Raintree (formally Heinemann Library).
Initially, I started looking at some of the books because they included some of the classic cartoon characters from DC comics such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. These sort of playful adventure stories with well developed characters have go so much potential in encouraging young people to read and to help them engage with text.
Of course if you take a developed character like Batman and combine this will a well written adventure narrative such as the texts that Raintree have produced along with DC Comics you have the first stages in developing a really interesting progressive reading strategy and linking it to other aspects of media and moving image education.
But Batman is a highly developed comic book character which can really allow the reader to progress and explore his stories in any number of directions using a variety of tests and media that is available on the commercial market as the reader outgrows the Raintree series.
There are 1000s of people that read batman stories in comic books and graphic novels every week around the globe and many of these people are adults. Some of the more recent Batman Graphic Novels including the Dark Knight Returns (that I put into the library at Musslebugh Grammar School) has a highly complex narrative and complicated plot and was mainly signed out by 15 – 18 year olds. How’s that for progressive reading programme that follows the same character!
It is also worth mentioning that characters such as Batman and Superman currently have a real cultural significance for children due to the recent Hollywood feature films of both of the superheros (with more sequels on the way). This provides another great opportunity for teachers to use current and relevant text that children have already been exposed to via the media. Even if children have not seen (or are old enough to have seen the film) they are likely to have played the computer games that always accompany new movies.
Raintree didn’t just have superhero graphic novels on display. They also have some really other interesting graphic novel texts to support other areas of the curriculum. These included ‘Graphic Expeditions’ to support the teaching of geography and place. These would be ideal and a great resource for schools to help embrace the cross-curricular philosophy of Curriculum for Excellence. I liked the look of the ones called ‘Rescue in Antarctica,’ and ‘Getting to the bottom of Global Warming.’ There are also graphic novel tests to support history, English and science.
I loved the idea of the Graphic Science Texts because they combined the idea of using superheroes (Max Axiom) and superpowers to introduce children to more complicated scientific concepts.
For example a superpower might be to be able to travel at the speed of sound and ride a sound wave – providing a great concept to introduce children into the science of sound. Or the ability to shrink to the size of and ant – providing a great context for learning about eco-systems, the food chain and mini-beasts!