Network With Us
Join us on Facebook to get the latest news and updates.
Jackie Regales's Story
Gutters, Balloons, and Panels: Understanding Persepolis
“Wait, do I have the wrong book? Mine is just pictures!” This is one of the many surprised comments I heard when my ninth grade students started reading Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, a memoir written in graphic novel style. This was the first time many of them had experienced this genre, while others were thrilled to see a resemblance between a text for school and their beloved anime/manga fiction. However, none of us (including me) knew how to talk about this book, without the familiar language of paragraphs and chapters. What kind of quote do you draw from a book that’s mostly pictures? Thankfully, I had a secret weapon: the ReadWriteThink lesson “Pictures Tell the Story: Improving Comprehension With Persepolis”. Not only does the lesson explain how to use terms like “gutter” and “frame” (not just for bowling anymore!), it walks students through a close reading of the first section of the memoir, “The Veil.” I began my lesson by defining the term vignette and asking students to copy the definition into their books. I had already printed and copied the RWT handout on Graphic Novel/Comics Terms and Concepts, so I passed out papers and paperclips so my students could secure the handout to the inside front cover of their books. We looked at the first five panels together, making connections and drawing inferences, and talking about the graphic weight we saw, and how the captions contrasted with the speech balloons. I then passed out post-It notes and asked the class to continue reading “The Veil,” choosing one panel on each page to make notes on, using the graphic novel terms, on their post-its. Persepolis is a rich and challenging text in an unfamiliar format for many students, but also filled with relatable themes and clear connections to current events. Providing my students with the tools and techniques for close reading graphic novels helps make us all more confident as we engage in making meaning and analysis from this exciting story of an Iranian childhood, set against a backdrop of revolution.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students get the big picture of the Middle East when they read and analyze Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis.
Grades K – 12 | Student Interactive | Writing & Publishing Prose
The Comic Creator invites students to compose their own comic strips for a variety of contexts (prewriting, pre- and postreading activities, response to literature, and so on).
Grades 3 – 12 | Student Interactive | Organizing & Summarizing
Bio Cube is a useful summarizing tool that helps students identify and list key elements about a person for a biography or autobiography.
Use the Comic Creator Interactive to have your students create their own graphic memoirs.
Use the Webbing Tool to help with unfamiliar vocabulary or concepts like Islam.
Use the Bio Cube to have sutdents research Satrapi or other historical figures mentioned in Persepolis.