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English Comic Strip Assignments


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Lesson Plan

Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares


Grades6 – 8
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeTwo 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author





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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Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).



Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.



Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


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Resources & Preparation


Graphic novels and comic book versions of well-known books for inspiration and comparison (optional)

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Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Comic Creator

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).


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  • Before this lesson, students will read a book independently, in literature circles, or as a whole class.

  • Ask students to bring copies of the book that will be the focus of their comic strips to class for reference.

  • Make copies or overheads of the planning sheet and the rubric.

  • Practice the steps for using the Comic Creator with your computers.

  • Visit the Website of Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics, for background on the genre, inspirations, and sample comics. Additional information can also be found at  Integrative Art: American Comic Strips from Pennsylvania State University.

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Instructional Plan


Students will

  • identify appropriate landscapes, characters, and props that relate to the events and characters in the books they've read.

  • interact with classmates to give and receive feedback.

  • explore how audience, purpose, and medium shape their writing.

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Session 1

  1. Introduce the writing activity, sharing the planning sheet, rubric, and sample graphic novels and comic books.

    1. Share the example graphic novels and comic books with students and explain the assignment, pointing out each of the parts that are included.

    2. Lead students through discussion of the key elements for each part. Sample discussion questions can include the following:

      • What are the important characteristics of a caption? What do the words in the captions tell you about the scene depicted?

      • What kind of landscape makes sense for the scene?

      • What props can you associate with the scene?

      • How kind of dialogue bubble makes sense for the interaction?

      • What connects one scene to the next in the comic strip?
  2. Once you're satisfied that students understand the assignment, demonstrate the Comic Creator student interactive and discuss its relationship to the Comic Strip Planning Sheet. Be sure to cycle through the options for characters and dialogue bubbles to show students the range of options available.

  3. Have students begin work with the Comic Strip Planning Sheet to plan their book reports. Students can work individually or in groups on this project.

  4. Encourage students to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for comic strips. Since these comics will be shared in the class as well as in the library, hearing the feedback and comments of other students helps writers refine their work for their audience.

  5. Students can continue working on the project for homework if desired.

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Session 2

  1. Remind students of the goals and elements included in this project. Answer any questions students have.

  2. To make comic strips, have your students follow these basic steps, referring to their planning sheet as they work in the Comic Creator:

    1. For the comic title, name the scene (or scenes) that will be depicted.

    2. For the comic subtitle, name the book where the scene is found.

    3. Include your name or the names of the members of your group as the authors of this comic strip.

    4. Choose the six-frame comic strip. (Alternately, have students choose the one-frame cartoon square and focus their work on an important scene in the book).

    5. In each of the six frames of the comic strip show a significant event from the book.

    6. Under each picture or cartoon, write a caption that provides additional detail on the scene.

    7. Print at least three copies of your finished comic strip.

  3. While students work, again encourage them to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for comic strips.

  4. After the comic strips are printed out, students can decorate them with markers or other classroom supplies.

  5. As students finish, ask them to turn in two copies of the comic strip (one for you and one for the librarian-the third copy is for the students to keep).

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For more formal assessment, use the Comic Strip Rubric which is tied to the elements included in the planning sheet.

On the other hand, nothing is as useful as the feedback that they'll receive by sharing their comic strips with their peers. Informal feedback from students who read the comics and search out the related book are excellent feedback for students.

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Related Resources


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Characters for Hire! Studying Character in Drama

In this alternative to the traditional book report, students respond to a play they have read by creating a resume for one of its characters.


Grades   5 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Glog That Book!

In this alternative book report, students identify the elements of fiction in books they have read by creating glogs, interactive multimedia posters, and then share their glogs.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: The Elements of Fiction

Students identify the elements of fiction in a book they have read and share summaries of them by writing and illustrating their own mini-book.


Grades   6 – 10  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

"Licensed" to Drive: Old West Figures

This lesson invites students to create a "Driver's License" for characters that have made a contribution to western expansion in the United States.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Character and Author Business Cards

Students respond to a book they have read by thinking symbolically to create a business card for one of the characters.


Grades   6 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Getting Acquainted with Farcebook

In this alternative to the traditional book report, students report on their novel choices using Facebook-like pages.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Summary, Symbol, and Analysis in Bookmarks

Students make bookmarks on computers and share their ideas with other readers at their school, while practicing summarizing, recognizing symbols, and writing reviews—all for an authentic audience.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Hooking a Reader with a Book Cover

Students select a book to read based only on its cover art. After reading the book, they use an interactive tool to create a new cover for it.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating a New Book Cover

Students explore book covers of a variety of books then create a new cover for a book they have read.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Writing Resumes for Characters in Historical Fiction

Students write resumes for historical fiction characters. They first explore help wanted ads to see what employers want, and then draft resumes for the characters they've chosen.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating a Childhood for a Character

Students explore familiar literary characters, usually first encountered as adults, but whose childhood stories are only told later. Students then create childhoods for adult characters from books of their choice.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: A Character's Letter to the Editor

Students write a persuasive letter to the editor of a newspaper from a selected fictional character's perspective, focusing on a specific issue or situation explored in the novel.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating Careers for Characters

Students select a job listing for a character in a book they have read, then create a resume and application letter for that character.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Examining Story Elements Using Story Map Comic Strips

Comic frames are traditionally used to illustrate a story in a short, concise format. In this lesson, students use a six-paneled comic strip frame to create a story map, summarizing a book or story that they've read. Each panel retells a particular detail or explains a literary element (such as setting or character) from the story.


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Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Comic Creator

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).


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Grades   3 – 8  |  Calendar Activity  |  November 18

Mickey Mouse appeared in his first animated feature.

Students create a short, humorous story with at least one action character, and then use online tools to make a flipbook.


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Grades   8 – 12  |  Professional Library  |  Journal

Alternative Book Reports

This article describes different ways that students can report on books they have read other than the traditional "book report."


Grades   8 – 12  |  Professional Library  |  Journal

Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report

Offers 50 diverse suggestions intended to offer students new ways to think about a piece of literature, new directions to explore, and ways to respond with greater depth to the books they read.


Professional Library  |  Journal

How Comic Books Can Change the Way Our Students See Literature: One Teacher's Perspective

In this article, Versaci details the many merits of using comics and graphic novels in the classroom, suggests how they can be integrated into historical and social issues units, and recommends several titles.


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Grades   6 – 8  |  Activity & Project

Comics and Graphic Novels

Instead of creating traditional book reports or writing summaries, get "graphic" by creating a comic book or cartoon adaptation of the major scenes from the books.


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This is a great project. I had my students write their own story and then proceed to make it a comic book. All of this information was very helpful.


Lisa Fink, RWT Staff

January 19, 2010

We are very glad that you found this resource, and others to be helpful. If you are interested in sharing lesson plan or teaching ideas with the site, please fill out our Contribute form: http://www.readwritethink.org/util/contribute-to-rwt.html.


Hi, I'm Kaitlyn. I've experienced a lot with my class using this website to help me help them write they're book reports and share them with the class. Atleast I now know where to look when my class is doing book reports! This strategy helped me a lot in the 2009 - 2010 school year. Thanks very much for your help.



Product Description

The Odyssey by Homer comic strip assignment.

Save more than 20% when you purchase this as a BUNDLE:
The Odyssey Activity Bundle

This is one of my favorite projects for Homer's "The Odyssey." Students use 11x17 in. legal paper to create a comic strip that retells the story of Odysseus and his encounter with the Cyclops.

This assignment is aligned with the common core curriculum, and requires students to cite dialogue in MLA format as well as include original narration.

Students will analyze and discover the basis of the conflict of the poem with this assignment.

Other Resources for The Odyssey That Might Interest You:
The Odyssey Board Game Project
The Odyssey Group Research Project
The Odyssey Character Analysis Essay
The Odyssey Differentiated Writing Responses
The Odyssey Vocabulary Packet
The Odyssey Character Analysis Graphic Organizers

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Teaching Duration

2 hours

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