My students need to be actively engaged in reading during the summer and at home. Comic books have been an effective tool to secretly get them engaged in reading, decoding, and critically thinking about text.
My classroom is full of creative, resourceful, and thoughtful students. Every day I engage with critical thinkers who are able to pull the most interesting and insightful ideas from their literary texts. However these insights aren't always captured on a test. My current students are the lowest performing students in the school. They've been working hard all year to show their academic growth, even if it doesn't meet a grade level benchmark standard. The causes of this are related to everything from lack of academic engagement at home, to undiagnosed developmental issues.
"Ms. Massey, I don't have any books at home." This is a common statement heard throughout our grade bands every day.
Our school is in the middle of Highbridge, a low to mixed income, immigrant community in the South bronx. Most of my students have parents who take their education very seriously, but are not able to provide the funds, language, resources, and time needed to make sure they're able to compete academically with students in other areas of the city. It is my job to fill that gap and make sure that their thoughts and ideas translate on paper.
"If reading is to lead to any meaningful knowledge or comprehension, readers must approach a text with an understanding of the relevant social, linguistic and cultural conventions," she said. "And if you really consider how the pictures and words work together in consonance to tell a story, you can make the case that comics are just as complex as any other kind of literature" - Carol L Tilley.
One of the tools I have used all year to keep my kids excited about reading, is "Comic Book Friday, where students get to independently read grade level comics." Most of my kids who claimed to "hate reading" in the beginning of the year have chased, begged, and pleaded to borrow my collection of comic books I bought for the classroom library.
I have seen 2nd grade readers, who read at a 1st grade level, pick up 3-4th grade level comic books, and start connecting picture clues, with words, and begin to break down the text. I have seen this translate into deep comprehension of the text. I have seen them engage in critical thinking skills about these texts, and begin to translate that into their regular work.
With your help, my hope is to make summer library for comic books, where my kids can borrow my books over the summer, to remain engaged in reading. Most of my students, have already explained that they don't have books at home. With reading levels already expected to drop over the summer, I believe the best way to keep them engaged during the summer, is helping them continue doing what they love. Reading excited engaging comic books that challenge their thinking.
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