It’s probably not on your Hallmark Calendar, but this Saturday (May 7) is Free Comic Book Day all across the nation. That means that comic book stores and other book sellers (although, mostly independent shops — which are always worth supporting) will have stacks and stacks of free comics for people. That includes you!
So, why should you celebrate? We love lists on the Internet, so here is my mine.
Ten Reasons Why Teachers Should Love Free Comic Book Day
- The comics are free. If you are a teacher like me, you love free stuff for the classroom. That said, the comics are shorter than normal and have snippets of stories. They’re free, but limited between the covers.
- They’re comics. I know. Duh. But there are still plenty of teachers who dismiss comics as “not legitimate literature,” even though there are places like PopGun Chaos and The Graphic Classroom (where I write reviews) that bring to light the potential of comics in the classroom.
- It will bring your students into a book store (ask them if they remember what those places are? Just kidding. Sort of). Let them know about Free Comic Book Day. Use the handy “store locator” to find the nearest place. Get their feet in the door and who knows: their interest in comics might lead to another shelf of books.
- If you are a teacher, I urge you to at least go to the event. Look around the room. What kind of kids are there? In my experience, I bet you will see many of our “reluctant readers.” My own visits to a local comic book store opened my eyes. Here were all those boys, in particular, reading on their own time.
- Think Common Core Standards. (sorry). The fusion of media, art, writing and story in a variety of narrative formats is what comics are all about and which do so well. And there are more and more graphic novels with a non-fiction, informational stance, too.
- As a way to teach writing, comics offer one way into lessons around inference (what is not being said), character development (strengths and flaws), dialogue, figurative language, and story lines that often connected to traditional stories (The Odyssey is everywhere).
- The day might break you free of some stereotypes of comics. Or it may not. I can’t defend which stories are going to be free. But dig deep for the comics that go beyond your expectations (last year, I was happy to get some copies of Mouse Guard, which became a minor hit in the classroom).
- Do you ever give out prizes in the classroom? I sometimes use the free comics as a replacement for candy (which we don’t do anymore) or pencils (which I do do). You might want to ask the comic book store manager if you can get extra copies for the classroom.
- There’s plenty of humor in the free comics. Whether you find it appropriate or not will be up to you. But it is always a good idea to lighten the mood with some funny stories. Comics can be a nice anecdote to serious reading.
- There an app for that. Of course there is. The free Comic Book Day App comes with free e-comics and the store locator built right into the app itself. I’m going to give it a try and see how it looks.
This is the 10th year of Free Comic Book Day. Ten years of anything is worth celebrating, and worth mentioning to our students. Go get yourself some comics!
Peace (in tiny little boxes),
PS — If you have time, read the post on Popgun Chaos entitled A Letter to a Prospective Comic Reader. It is well worth your time, particularly if you are ambivalent to the idea of comics in general.