Comic Book Classroom is a non-profit that implements school programs about art and writing with comic books. Glorious, literacy stimulating comic books. Based in Colorado, the group extends their resources to educational and community institutions free of charge. CBC is volunteer driven, running off of proceeds from the Denver Comic Con as well as through public donations.
CBC was created by Illya Kowalchuk in 2010 when he and his co-founders took notice of the absence of expanded literacy programs for local K-12 students. They focused their Storytelling Through Comics campaign on local elementary and middle school aged children with the goal of improving their literacy and art skills. However, their curriculum is not solely focused on reading and writing; the program is also designed to encourage students to examine their personal relationship with their communities:
The goal is to teach students not just reading and art skills, but engage them in discussions about the texts that may help them tackle problems in their own lives and communities. Through the curriculum and reading material, students may define (or redefine) their own identities and interrogate the choices they make about friendships and role models. Through the investigation of storytelling and the creation of story, students may also acquire problem-solving skills and self-expression in ways previously unavailable to them.
Schools and local groups can participate in the six week long instructional program at no cost, as either a stand-alone course, an after school program, or as a supplement to their present class offerings. After completion of the course, students’ entries are compiled into a group and are published in a collection of the class’ work.
The group is involved in other forms of community outreach, including an opportunity for each course graduate and a caregiver to attend the Denver Comic Con, where they are able to meet with industry professionals, attend speaker panels to learn more about the culture, and sell their own sketches to con-attendees. At this time over four hundred students have taken advantage of this experience.
CBC’s instructional materials have also proved to be an effective language learning tool for ESL students. The company’s website states:
The graphic and textual blend used in the comic art form is effective for teaching literacy and arts to all learners, including gifted readers as well as those that may be struggling, resistant, or English Language Learners (ELLs).
The group’s resources are mainly available to Colorado educators, specifically in the Denver area. But those of us outside that bubble can also make use of tons of informative articles, interviews, reviews, and activities posted on their blog at News/Blog.
All I know is that I’d love to enroll my kid in this program someday. Hopefully other communities will take note and replicate similar programs everywhere. Seriously. Every town on the planet should offer a program like this to their kids. And teenagers. And adults.