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Lesson Plan

Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares

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Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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Students examine graphic novels and comic books and discuss  the important components of the genre, such as captions, dialogue, and images. They then use an online tool to create a six-panel comic highlighting six key scenes in a book they have read. By creating comic strips or cartoon squares featuring characters in books, students are encouraged to think analytically about the characters, events, and themes they've explored in ways that expand their critical thinking by focusing on crystallizing the significant points of the book in a few short scenes.

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Comic Creator: This online tool allows students to easily create and print comic strips.

Comic Strip Planning Sheet: Use this worksheet for students to plan their comic strips before using the online tool.

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This activity invites the student to think symbolically. The students choose key scenes for their characters and books, find landscapes and props that fit the scenes, and compose related dialogue. These student representations of the books, with their multifaceted texts using symbols, images, texts, and metaphor, succeed in the classroom because they provide a snapshot of the students' comprehension of the ideas in the texts. As Vokoun describes, the alternative to a traditional book report "allows students to create something unique and show their understanding of what they read."

Further Reading

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Collins.


Voukon, Michael. “Alternative Book Reports.”  English Journal 94.4 (March 2005):  117-119.

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