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Classics Illustrated in the classroom

The Classics Illustrated series were first published with the express aim of bringing classic stories to young readers in an easy to access format. With full colour, original and highly acclaimed artwork, the two series – Classics Illustrated Junior aimed at 4 to 7 year old readers and the original Classics Illustrated for 7 to 12 year old readers – engage even reluctant readers whilst delivering the world’s greatest stories.

The Classics Illustrated series are each 48 pages of living colour and contain notes on the author, a timeline of events taking place in the world when the story was first published, and short essays on the work, as well as a number of questions to challenge the reader.

The Junior books are 32 pages of bright, captivating artwork and also contain notes on the author and a full colouring page from the story itself.

To compliment the series and to facilitate use of these wonderful books in the classroom, we also produce Teachers’ Resources which are full of information, exercises and assignments, quizzes and wordsearches. They also provide cross-curricula tasks and ideas and are photocopiable for ease of use.

These superb classroom tools are available as free downloads for the Junior series and can be located by clicking on the Teachers Resources button on the left.

"I like these illustrated Children's Classics. I'm a great fan of comics and the comic strip and I think these books offer a good way for young readers to get into some of the greatest stories ever told. My three-year old was particularly keen on the Goldilocks one and has asked for it again and again!"
Michael Rosen (Children's Laureate)

"My son Jack didn't like English at high school so I bought him a lot of comic versions of classic books such as Jekyll And Hyde, Kidnapped and Macbeth - now he wants to go to see the Shakespeare play. It's a great way to get people to read. The problem is that there just aren't enough comics out there any more."
Ian Rankin - author

"Brit Lit is one of my favourite classes to teach. I mean, who can resist heroes like Beowulf, King Arthur and Robin Hood, not to mention folklore rich with fairies and ghosts? Throw in famous characters like Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes and introduce the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver and Jim Hawkins and you've got yourself a class most teens can really sink their teeth into."

"I feel that comic strips and cartoon books can be very powerful and engaging literacy tools not to mention a whole heap of fun. So let's tap into their passion for the genre."
Adrian Bruce

"It's exciting to see someone so well respected in Scottish education (Ollie Bray) advocating comics in schools. As an English teacher and huge comic fan, I've often tried to convince colleagues of the power of comics as worthy texts"
Katie Barrowman - teacher

Reluctant Readers

"But weak or reluctant readers also need something more - books whose text suits their reading level but whose content suits their age level. Pictures can also break up text into bite size chunks as well as adding extra information and speech bubbles. Graphic novels often win in this respect, providing the visual clues still needed by weak readers in a way which has street cred with their friends."

"When working with teens who are reluctant to read the classics, you need to employ covert tactics; you need to sneak in, hit 'em with the story, and get out before they know what happened."

Lecturers, experts in education and literacy, parents and teachers alike, all agree that the comic, or graphic novel, engages even the most reluctant readers. A paper on the subject, courtesy of Dr. Mel Gibson and LTScotland examines the topic in detail: Graphic Novels across the curriculum. Please browse the links page for more sites exploring the subject.

Teaching Classics at Key Stage 2

With KS2 the objective has to be making the stories relevant and fun. Film animations are always a great draw for these age groups.

Although Disney does have a tendency to remove the ‘teeth’ from the Brothers Grimm tales of intrigue and violence!

Link those cartoons with a comic version of these classic tales and even the most reluctant 8 year old will be drawn in.

Moving on from a straightforward literacy theme, designing their own comics based on the stories, then going on to create a new story, or simply change the ending of the original, have been particularly successful with Key Stage 2. The links page will take you to comic creation sites where you can download free software or simply create your comics online.

Our teacher’s resources also provide lesson plans for KS2, from simple wordsearches to more complex tasks. They cover cross-curriculum topics too.

We all know of the challenges involved in engaging this ‘Playstation’ generation in literature and learning. Let’s start by introducing KS1 children to classics folk tales with Classics Illustrated Junior. Titles include Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rumpelstiltskin and many more.

Getting Boys to Read

"A lot of the old myths and stories are attractive to boys but we need to help them with the story telling and the reading."
Michael Rosen (Children's Laureate)

In 2007, the National Literacy Trust conducted a survey of pupils in 29 primary and secondary schools in England. Some of the key questions revolved around the reader self-concept. They found that girls perceived readers differently from boys, believing that readers are clever/intelligent and someone who will do well in life, while boys were more likely to view readers as geeky/nerds. Outside of school more boys than girls read newspapers, comics/graphic novels and manuals/instructions. So, leaving the playstation instruction manual as an after school activity, lets draw on the other favoured media, and GET BOYS READING!!

Teachers’ notes - Study Guides

We are in the process of developing a package of resources for each book, designed for teachers, tested on children and suitable for KS2 and KS3. The resources provide a synopsis of the work, information about the author, a timeline of the period and the flexibilty to tailor lessons to meet individual needs. Covering the requirements of the UK curriculum guidelines, the teaching resources provide exercises ranging from anagrams through comprehension exercises, fun activities and exploring literature through drama and art. For KS1 please check out our free teachers resources downloads.

School Libraries

The school library is a powerful force for the development of literacy. The stock of books and other resources, the provision of an attractive and stimulating environment and the school’s approach to library use are all important factors in developing pupils’ ability to read purposefully and critically and in promoting reading for pleasure. Graphic novels and comics now command a prominent position in collections designed to attract large volumes of students. Once students are in the habit of reading for pleasure, the wonderful world of literature opens up to them. The key is a starting point they can engage with. That’s where the Classics Illustrated series can provide that first step. Gripping stories, action and adventure, classics by well-loved authors from around the globe all in full colour.

For school libraries annual subscriptions to both series are also available (as well as individual copies and class sets)

Receive an issue every month, hot off the press. ORDER NOW.

"The presence of comics in a junior high school library resulted in a dramatic 82% increase in library traffic and a 30% increase in circulation of non-comic books."
- Dorrell & Carroll
School Library Journal

"If you’re old enough to remember the Classics Illustrated comic books, you’ll be glad to know that they’re back, along with a whole army of other graphic novel lines that promise to encourage readers to get into, and through, the classics."
Dodie Ownes -- School Library Journal, 10/15/2008

"Comics are the most exciting medium today for teachers who want to grab their students' attention without sacrificing depth, and for librarians who are intrigued by this artform and its possibilities for encouraging new readers."
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