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I am a US History teacher for middle school. All I ever see my kids reading are graphic novels. I think this medium could be great for teaching history. I have found only two graphic novels related to US history, one on the Gettysburg Address and one on the Constitution. I was curious if anyone else has used/found others?

I think a project/product I will be having my students do next year is to create their own comic books/graphic novels. The visual learners and artistic types could have a field day with it.

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This won't help you for U.S. history, but I know 3 great ones for Middle Eastern history. "Persepolis" is a graphic novel that is a true story of a girl growing up before, during, and just after the Iranian Revolution. The sequel ("Persepolis II") is also good but has some sexual content as she is coming of age in Vienna, where she was sent during the Iran-Iraq War. The award-winning movie is wonderful.
Another graphic novel/true story is "The Pride of Baghdad." It's about a pride of lions that flees the zoo after the American bombing. It examines the effect of war on the innocent. Yet another Iraq war story is "Alia's Mission:Saving the Books of Iraq," the true story of a librarian who rescued the books from the national library, which was destroyed in the U.S. bombing of Basra. (There's a kids' picture book version called "The Librarian of Baghdad" for elementary school readers.)
It depends upon whether you want a systematic coverage like a text book or whether you want something more artistic. I'll be suggesting a number of works and directions in my presentation at the conference, but here's a starter list:

If you want a counter-cultural read on American History you might look at the graphic novel adaptation of _A People's History of American Empire_ by Howard Zinn. You have to handle it carefully though because his reading of the historical record is quite provocative and might have some parents breathing down your back if handled improperly.

Capstone Press puts out a number of graphic novel biographies and histories that are specifically oriented for schools. You can buy sets. They are more didactic than artistic, but they do a good job of serving the purpose for which they were designed -- which is to engage reluctant readers and appeal to more visual learners.

Osprey Publishing has a good group of cheap graphic novels about American military history. Again they are more didactic than artistic, but they work.

There is also a graphic novel of the 9/11 comission's report that is fairly good, and Art Spiegelmann did a large format book that tells about his experiences the day the towers came down.

Ho Che Anderson put out a great work about MLK, called _King_. I don't know if it is still in print.

Your idea of having them use the graphic organizer format for sequencing is a great alternative to in class presentations. I'd suggest that you read Scott McCloud's _Understanding Comics_ so that you can contextualize the medium for those that associate comics with childishness. It has some great segments that connect comics with other historical media (ie Mayan Ruins).

Hope you can come to my presentation, if not, drop me a line at
In addition to the Zinn adaptation and the 9/11 report adaptation , there is also a graphic novel version of the Autobiography of Malcolm X.

If you're not familiar with Art Spiegelmann, be sure to check out Maus I and Maus II - which illustrate his father's experiences as a holocaust survivor.

American Born Chinese
, is not a "history" graphic novel, but is one of my favorite graphic novels that deals with cultural assimilation and the challenges teenage immigrants face.

Lastly, there are also Larry Gonick's Cartoon History series - I haven't seen them all, but I know he has the History of the Modern World, History of the Universe, and History of the United States.

Hope these help. I think graphic novels are a great teaching tool, and I wish I had the opportunity to use them more in my classes.

Alex Wood
Hey Austin - see this large list of American Lit Graphic Novels I posted here:

Pop Culture + US History + Best Practices Ning!

Also consider joining Making Curriculum pop where we have a Graphic Novels & Comics group loaded with this kind of information!!

I also use both Maus I and Maus II. Excellent resources on the Holocaust. I used them often in my summer school courses.
Also see..

24 Recommended Graphic Novels for Black History Month
In my class we have used Comic Life in the past to create graphic novels/educational comics. One example was last year my class was doing a challenge-based learning project with Apple. The class wanted to increase awareness of the problem of how a lack of health and literacy education adds to higher disease and lower GDP in developing countries. One group did a comic explaining about how children are being kidnapped and forced to serve in guerilla armies fighting civil wars throughout Africa. You can see the page HERE.

Now COmic Life is Mac-based. If you are using Windows machines, there are web-based alternatives such as:

This is a cool project, have fun! And be sure to share some of your students work with the group.
Actually, there is now a windows version of Comic Life.
I don't know much about graphic novels, but there are so many interesting historical novels that entertain kids, and they could then turn them into graphic cartoons or whatever they're interested in! Johnny Tremain, for example is an oldie, but goody! 1776 by David McCollough draws the reader right into the Revolutionary War. I admire you, Austin, for recognizing the need for kids to pursue thier interests! More kids will love to learn because of teachers like you!
This is a varied recommendation of graphic novels that looked good:

U.S. History recommendations:

Howard Zinn's "A People's History Of American Empire" Graphic Novel

Howard Zinn's A People's History of American Empire is a fantastic comic-book adaptation of Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States (the best and most important critical history of the life of everyday people in America from 1492 onward), a new edition illustrated by Mike Konopacki and aided by historian Paul Buhle. American Empire focuses on the history of American foreign policy, starting with the policy of conquering America itself, with brutal massacres like Wounded Knee.
Zinn is an uncompromising critic of the imperial history of America, the unilateral deeds of its leaders, the atrocities committed by its military and its contractors through Asia, Africa, Europe, and around the world. But the book is also part memoir, describing the emotional commitment to democracy and America that led him to join the military and fight in WWII in Europe -- a campaign that ended with the first-ever napalm drop on a village in France, roasting surrendered German soldiers waiting to be taken away to a POW camp.

Zinn is a fierce lover of democracy, of justice, and of freedom, and he makes it clear that America is a land divided by dreams of affluence (no matter the global cost) and dreams of liberty for all. As a wise man once said, "All countries fail to live up to their ideals. America fails to live up to better ideals than most." We can't forgive or forget the atrocities of Iran-Contra, My Lai, Wounded Knee, or the many other shameful moments in American imperial history, because the price of forgetfulness is fresh horrors, in Abu Ghraib, in Guantanamo, in Afghanistan.

Zinn shows us that loving American means taming her, controlling the plutocrats who assert the unilateral power to crush dissent, act in secret and go to war.

The comic book form is a great way of delivering this message, the spreads mix text, cartoons, reproductions of historical documents and photos, making the whole thing visual, dynamic, and absolutely captivating.

Gettysburg, The Graphic Novel has lots of suggestions. Just type in U.S. history graphic novels

Hope this helps!

Thank you for the suggestions!


I too LOVE Zinn!

Cartoonist Kyle Baker did a great graphic novel series called NAT TURNER, based on the slave rebellion.





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