Various Comics: Captain Underpants, The New Kid, The Bad Guys, Heartstopper, The Boondocks

TE 579 - Comics for K-12 Educators

"Comics for K-12 Educators" is a course designed to (re)introduce students –who are also future/current elementary, middle, or high school teachers – to the socio-political importance and the literacy-enhancing value of comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels. Beginning with discussions related to the alleged “criminality,” “vulgarity,” “inappropriateness,” and “indoctrinating” influence of comics, originating in the early 1900s and continuing to present-day book bans, we will explore how efforts to keep (certain) comics out of the hands of children and out of schools have limited young readers’ opportunities to learn about their own and other – sometimes imagined or speculative – worlds, to think critically about their own and other (human) beings’ identities and experiences, and to challenge injustices. Through discussions of the literacy-related skills developed and honed by comic and graphic novel reading (decoding, comprehension, visual analysis, textual analysis, story pacing, etc.), as well as the need to engage young people with various texts from which they might construct relevance – especially in relationship to their own existences and their own growing conscientiousness – this course will emphasize the ways in which comic books and graphic novels can contribute to young people’s literacy success, as well as to their criticality and empowerment. As we situate comics and graphic novels within discussions of censorship and justice, students in this course will also develop ideas for educational practices that challenge notions of difference that advantage some groups over others.

Course Materials



Lesson Slides: Week One

Lesson Slides: Week Three

Lesson Slides: Week Six

About the Course Designer


Katie Sciurba is Associate Professor of Literacy Education at San Diego State University. She is an experienced elementary school teacher and still teaches writing to K-12 children through the SDSU Literacy Center’s WRITE TO RISE program. Her research focuses on the intersections of young people's lives and literacy practices with an emphasis on the reading experiences of Boys of Color, and representations of sociopolitical events in children's literature. Her forthcoming academic book, Reading and Relevance, Reimagined: Celebrating the Literacy Lives of Young Men of Color will be released by Teachers College Press in 2024. Her scholarly articles have been published in venues such as Teachers College Record, Journal of Literacy Research, Science Fiction Studies, and Children's Literature in Education, and she is the author of texts for children including the picture book, Oye, Celia!: A Song for Celia Cruz (Henry Holt, 2007).

Read Katie's blog post about the course.