The Comic Book Curriculum
Using Comics to Enhance Learning and Life
by James Rourke
May 2010, 189pp, 7x10
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-59884-396-5
$45, £34, 39€, A61

Comics have more depth than might be supposed. Superman is an immigrant from another planet. Batman exhibits a high level of moral development. The Bushido code is alive and well in Wolverine, while Spider-Man’s greatest strength is his compassion for others. What if these qualities could be tied to classroom topics, inspiring kids to read and learn?

This fascinating journey into the heart of comics connects their unique blend of entertainment and wisdom with school curriculum to invigorate teachers and students alike.

What an intriguing idea! The Comic Book Curriculum: Using Comics to Enhance Learning and Life shows teachers how to use these ever-popular stories to enliven any classroom. The book does not suggest replacing classic works with comics. What it does offer is ideas and techniques for using comics to generate interest in a topic and for transferring that enthusiasm to more-traditional classroom lessons.

The first section of the book introduces superheroes and the sometimes-surprising depth and thoughtfulness of comics. For example, it shows how the X-Men can be used to illuminate the Civil Rights movement, the dangers of fundamentalism, and the power of diversity. Similar treatment is afforded other popular characters such as Batman and Superman, and curriculum connections are made to topics that include the struggle between freedom and security, Norse mythology, the Holocaust, and nuclear disarmament. The second part of the book offers specific tools that will help teachers use comics as a welcome—and effective—doorway to learning.

Features

  • 11 individual chapters introduce and analyze famous comic book characters, including Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man, and the X-Men
  • Teacher tools, including a vocabulary list, curriculum connections, and lesson plans, complement each hero
  • A bibliography of comics and graphic novels can be used in the classroom or for further research
James Rourke is a history teacher at the Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, CT. He is the author of From My Classroom to Yours: Reflections on Teaching.

Reviews

"...a superbly written and presented compendium that is especially recommended for teachers seeking to develop effective supplemental materials for their classroom curriculums."—Midwest Book Review, June 1, 2010

"This author knows his comics, and his connections to real life will be useful for teachers who would like to use comics in their classes to spark interest, as well as bridging the gap between comics and traditional literature. Recommended."—Library Media Connection, November 1, 2010

"James Rourke has written a masterful work that develops questions and insights about the virtues, personal identity, justice, and the meaning of life, by way of engaging the many characters and plots of the Comic Book. This is a delightful, brilliant work for students and general readers who wish to think philosophically about the worlds of Superman, Batman, and other superheroes."—Dr. Charles Taliaferro, Professor of Philosophy, St. Olaf College

"James Rourke does an excellent good job of showing how major superheroes and their stories raise some of the deepest and most important ethical and psychological questions we all need to ask and answer. This book will be a major help in the classroom and beyond, and will help introduce many readers into the world of classic literature through a new doorway."—Tom Morris, author of If Harry Potter Ran General Electric and Philosophy for Dummies, and Editor of Superheroes and Philosophy

"In this fabulous and timely book, Rourke combines a fan's love of comics with an educator's zeal for knowledge. Comic books have always been rich with human emotion, morality, and conflict, and in this book Rourke shows, with a wealth of examples and practical advice for teachers, how to present this to high school students as a supplement--not a replacement--for traditional literature." —Mark D. White, professor, co-editor of Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul, and editor of Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test and Iron Man and Philosophy: Facing the Stark Reality
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