Try adding words to comic book art to lure young writers

Looking for a lure to get younger kids to write?

I’ve found something that works great for kindergarteners through third graders:  retelling comic book stories.

In the back of an old comic book, I found three pages telling the story of Aesop’s Fable “The Lion and the Mouse.”  I photocopied the three pages and cut out the words, taping blank paper over the cut-out sections.  I labeled each frame with a letter.

Aesop Lion and Mouse cartoon

Then I told my student writer the story, pointing to each frame as I went along.  The last frame contains a moral, so we discussed what a moral is, and what might be appropriate for this story.

On notebook paper, the child wrote his own version of the story, labeling each sentence or group of sentences with a letter corresponding to a frame from the comic book.

Next, we revised, substituting better verbs and making sure sentences began with variety.  One third grader was learning figures of speech, so to her version, we added alliteration, simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, rhyme and hyperbole.

When the words were ready, I typed them to fit in the blanks, printed them, and taped them to the photocopy.  My students were dazzled by their own work, and set right to work on the next comic book story “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Try it.  Page through some old comic books or the Sunday funny pages for appropriate stories.  I recommend stories which are two or three pages long, with no more than five frames per page, or a total of ten to 12 frames.  Writing words for that many frames can be done in a half hour to an hour—not long enough for a child to get discouraged.  And once done, the rewritten story plus art can be displayed easily on your refrigerator, or copied and emailed to Grandma.

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