Intrepid Alaska Third Grader Overcomes Classroom Comics Ban

by Betsy Gomez

Chris Wilson with The Graphic Classroom, a website dedicated to “promoting the use of high-quality comic literature in the elementary, middle school, and high school classroom,” shared a story over the weekend about a third grader in Alaska who used his science fair project to overcome his teacher’s ban on comics in the classroom.

Wilson writes about Sam, the student in question:

Sam wanted to read. He wanted to read comics, but his third grade teacher banned comics in class and refused to count them on his daily reading log. It is a common practice in elementary school across the nation to assign reading homework. Students must then log the books, pages, or minutes read on a form and then have it signed by a parent. The form is typically turned in on a weekly basis and assigned points for completion. Sam was okay with that, but he wanted to read comics: BONE, for instance. That was a no-go in his classroom.

Sam knew what he loved to read and refused to accept the ban lying down. With the support of his science-loving parents, Sam choose comics-in-education as his science fair project. One late night for me –– not so late for them thanks to time zones –- Sam, his father, and I Skyped for about an hour. Sam had a list of excellent questions written out. He wanted to know how comics work. He wanted to know why comics help kids read and why kids love them. He wanted to know my favorites. Sam also wanted some research –– data –– on comics-in-education.

I gave him my opinions, cited Scott McCloud, sent him the power point I presented to my district’s board of education on the effect of comics on student achievement, and gave him some citations. Sam went to work and created a project that later won a first place at the Alaska State Science Fair.

Sam proved that anyone can help overturn a book ban. Upon seeing Sam’s project, his teacher relented and allowed her students to include comic books in their reading logs. You can read the rest of the story and see photos of Sam’s project here.

If a third grader can change his teacher’s mind, what can the rest of us do? Please do your part and help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!