Books About the Comic Book Project

Manga High: Literacy, Identity, and Coming of Age in an Urban High School

by Michael Bitz

Harvard Education Press

When Commas Meet Kryptonite: Classroom Lessons from the Comic Book Project

by Michael Bitz

Teachers College Press


Based on a four-year study, this book explores the convergence of literacy, creativity, social development, and personal identity in one of New York City’s largest high schools.

Since 2004, students at Martin Luther King, Jr., High School in Manhattan have been creating manga--Japanese comic books. They write the stories, design the characters, and publish their works in print and on the Internet. These students--African-American and Latino teenagers--are more than interested in the art and medium of manga. They have become completely engrossed in Japanese language, culture, and society.

Manga High is highlighted by reproductions and content analysis of students’ original art and writing. An appendix includes guidelines for educators on starting a comic book club.

Praise for Manga High:

"In this valuable book, Samantha, Tenzin, Treasure, Kischer, Keith, and other students come to life for us through their creations. Michael Bitz has a message, one that is often forgotten: When teachers understand that young adolescents have value, everyone learns, and everyone teaches. Comics, especially manga, are a powerful way to tap into youthful talent and energy. The result, as Bitz shows us, is confident, capable young people who, against the odds, are ready to be productive adults."
-John Merrow, Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour and President, Learning Matters

"Manga High describes one of the most powerful literacy-based student-engagement projects I have encountered. It captures what many educators strive to accomplish--the use of a compelling medium to promote literacy and motivation. Teachers around the country will find this an invaluable resource, particularly those searching for literacy-based, hands-on projects."
-Michael Nakkula, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania

"As the manga phenomenon goes global, most American kids are content merely to draw manga-like characters. In Manga High, Michael Bitz follows kids as they grapple with the complex and demanding tasks of plotting, writing, editing, designing, drawing, and producing comics--and consequently shaping their own lives. Manga High reveals that the most engaging learning occurs when pedagogy is directed by kids themselves."
-Brent Wilson, Professor Emeritus, School of Visual Arts, Penn State

This definitive book presents the newest research linking graphic narratives and literacy learning, as well as the tools teachers will need to make comic book projects a success in their classrooms. The Comic Book Project is an internationally celebrated initiative where children plan, write, design, and publish original graphic narratives in diverse media and formats. In one accessible resource, Bitz presents a comprehensive program that is just as fun for teachers as it is for students. Teachers will learn how to incorporate socially relevant materials and instruction into daily activities, how to differentiate instruction across the K-12 curriculum, and much more. This informative, hands-on book:

Advances a creative approach to teaching core literacy skills, including narrative construction, spelling, publication, and assessment.

Includes adaptable lesson plans and examples of professionally published and student-created comics.

Details classroom applications and resources to help teachers launch their own comic book clubs.

Praise for When Commas Meet Kryptonite:

"Whether you're an educator, a writer, illustrator, parent, or a Superman fan who got drawn in by the word "kryptonite" in the title of this book, I know you'll find this work fascinating, relevant, and possibly life changing. Enjoy. I'll see you in the funny pages."
-From the Foreword by Jim Davis, creator of Garfield

"Michael Bitz is a leading scholar among those of us who study comics' pedagogical potentials. . . . [With this book] you are in for an exciting, well-informed, and illuminating reading experience packed with examples of authentic learning."
-From the Foreword by James Bucky Carter, University of Texas at El Paso

"I've had the opportunity to work with some kids coming out of the Comic Book Project and I could see firsthand the results of passion intersecting with education. The Comic Book Project changes lives. Educators in all fields should be aware of Michael Bitz's groundbreaking work."
-James Sturm, Director, The Center for Cartoon Studies