Recommended Watches – The Importance of Comics as an Educational Tool For Students

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Credit: Casea Smith | @coffeewithkrow

About the Event

Panel: Comic-Con@Home 2021 – CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund): Defending Comics Today

Panel Description: Protecting the intellectual freedom rights of the comics community is no longer just a matter of defending comics retailers who run afoul of local authorities in search of an “easy” obscenity case or writing a letter in defense of a challenged graphic novel. Contemporary attacks on the right to make, publish, sell, and read comics and other expressive content have become legislative, algorithmic, and organized. Moderator Betsy Gomez (CBLDF, Banned Books Week) is joined by Alexis Huddleston (English teacher, Leander Independent School District), and Stephani Bercu (she/her, parent and volunteer) for a discussion about attacks on comics in Leander, Texas, while Jeff Trexler (interim executive director, CBLDF) and Karen Evans (education coordinator, CBLDF) offer perspective on other censorship issues impacting the comics community.

Why Watch

This panel is an important watch to get an idea of the struggle to expand literature among teenagers. Graphic Novels are being deemed as “inappropriate content” and pulled out of the curriculum, taking away the student’s choice and opportunity to expand their perspective. When including stories that involve LGBTQ+ experiences or books that have darker yet cathartic themes, there is push back and a call for suppression. This is only one example of a wider issue comic books, comic artists, and sellers have been facing for decades all over the world. There have been government regulations, social backlash, and outright censorship of graphic novels because they challenge social norms. This panel does a great job of expressing these challenges and what is being done to overcome them.

About the Event

Panel: Comic-Con@Home 2021 – Graphic Novels are the New Textbooks

Panel Description: Modern, dynamic teaching means thinking outside the textbook. Michael Gianfrancesco (LitX founder and teacher), Shveta Miller (author of Hacking Graphic Novels: 8 Ways to Teach Higher-Level Thinking with Comics and Visual Storytelling), Deborah Benjamin (educator), Ronell Whitaker (English curriculum director), and Dr. Jay Hosler (writer/artist The Way of the Hive) discuss techniques to engage students using the comics medium in a way that will demonstrate practical positive educational results. Visit https://linktr.ee/michaelgteach for links to all participants.

Why Watch

This panel expresses how comics are a living medium and can be critical when used as a way of better understanding classic texts (Shakespeare, etc.) as well as explaining social issues that can be difficult to tackle without a visual and symbolic description. The panelists also give practical ways of incorporating comic books into the classroom that have shown positive results, as well as how to make the argument that graphic novels are a beneficial tool for engaging, encouraging, and educating students.

About the Event

Panel: Comic-Con@Home 2021 – The POW(!)er of Graphic Novels to Support Youth Literacy: Successes in Libraries

Panel Description: Amie Wright (former inaugural president of the ALA Graphic Novel and Comic Round Table), Angela Ocana (community services manager at the Eugene Public Library), and Deimosa Webber-Bey (director of Information Services and Cultural Insight at Scholastic, Inc.) discuss how graphic novels have proven to be an extraordinarily effective medium for literacy and learning, how they have become increasingly recognized as ‘legitimate’ literature, and how they have impacted the movement for equity, diversity, and inclusion. The three panelists specifically focus on how graphic novels function in libraries and how those serving children and families in libraries can advance the use of graphic novels and comics within their communities.

Why Watch

This panel aso does a great job of breaking down the stigma of graphic novels not being seen as “real books” and the notion that comics are not a valid way for children to experience literature. Libraries are a well respected and thoroughly recommended institution in society. So, including these books into libraries and having librarians encourage children to read them is crucial as it solidifies the importance of comics. This panel explains the benefits of graphic novels as well as the ways we could include them in our education system for children, which is why I’ve put it on the watch list.

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