Spotlight On: BOOM! Studios Comics

Founded in 1995, BOOM! Studios creates comics and graphic novels for all age groups.  While they have a number of original titles such as Lumberjanes, Slam!, Giant Days, and Mouse Guard they also focus on comics based on licensed properties such as WWE, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.1

Boom! Studios offers a WIDE RANGE OF SERIES for readers to choose from.  They are, without a doubt, a publishing company with something for everyone.

Other Imprints

Boom! Studios has a number of imprints including KaBOOM! which is aimed at children, BOOM! Box which features a number of experimental comics, and Archaia who they acquired in 2013.

This article will take a look at BOOM! Studios line of comics, highlighting a number of their texts, and how they should be placed within your classroom.

WhatBinder wrote a series for those who want to know more about using Comics in the Classroom.



Original Comics

Boom! Studios features a wide range of original titles.  Many of them focus on strong female protagonists, and other underrepresented groups.  While this wasn’t entirely by design, the strong female representation within their Editorial Department has ensured an equitable spread of topics throughout their catalogue.



Summer camp?  Supernatural creatures?  The bonds of friendship that keep everyone going?  Lumberjanes uses their well established backdrop to tell personal stories that connect with readers of all ages, but is created to appeal to a younger audience.

Feature strong female leads and helmed by female creators, they knew they were onto something then the planned mini-series was met with such critical success that it was extended into an ongoing that has as much buzz now as it did when it first launched in 2014.




Roller Derby has existed The Silent Generation transitioned in the Boomers, but it wasn’t until the 2009 Ellen Page movie Whip It came out that it was reintroduced into the mainstream.

With another Hollywood connection, Slam! in a graphic novel written by Pamela Ribon (story write for Disney’s Moana and Ralph Breaks the Internet).  In the tradition of Silver age Superheroes, Slam! introduces readers to a cast of colourful and costumed characters with unique names, and while a lot of the action happens on the tracks, it’s the personal stories, friendships, and struggles that come from putting oneself in the public eye that carries this book.

Perfect for introducing teenage girls to the importance of believing they can reach their goals, and that physical sports are nothing to be avoided, there’s enough on rink action, and character development to keep readers of all backgrounds turning to the next page.



Giant Days

Focusing on women who are trying to make sense of the world around them as they transition from one life stage to the next, Giant Days is a fresh take with modern feminism overtone.  Not planned to be a story that projects a political narrative, the comic isn’t feminist because the author is trying to find a place to insert their message, it’s feminist because there’s no way to tell an organic story about women without introducing those elements.

Because the characters in the comics face the same issues that surround all readers, the messages feel organic rather than forced.  The characters are not perfect, and their flaws reflect the flaws many have had to deal with.  Things are far from perfect as choices are questioned over and over.  Rather than presenting an image of what one thinks life should be like, Giant Days, instead, presents a version of life that is all too relatable to a high school audience.



Mouse Guard

Think Lord of the Rings, meets Dungeons and Dragons, meets The Secret of Nimh and you have yourself a strong understanding about what you’re in for with Mouse Guard.  Part of a larger series – some stories intertwined, and others standing alone in the same world, David Petersen  has crafted a campaign that shows even the very small must embrace large challenges.

Bravery, caution, and well laid plans all combine when discovering what is right, and when threats can no longer be resolved with diplomacy and strong words.

The fully realized world of Mouse Guard presents opportunity to satisfy one’s curiosity and wanderlust while forcing one to rethink their place, and their own values.




Licensed Properties

By focusing on familiar subject matter students will read at a higher level, and be more engages with their texts.  While teachers may feel that these comics lack an educational value it’s obvious that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The demonstration of your students’ LITERACY SKILLS is possible regardless of the text.  The most important part is to get our students reading, get them thinking metacognitively, and allow them an oppertunity to show their knowledge based on an accessible text.

Luckily, Boom! Studios creates high interest comics that explore a wide range of themes.  Costumed fighters provide a strong foundation for text-to-self connections, while muscled wrestlers create a platform for the exploration of a wide range of social issues currently impacting our world.


Mighty Morphing Power Rangers

Though easy to ignore as being nothing more than a children’s Show, the Boom! Studios adaptation of Mighty Morphing Power Rangers introduces a high school full of flawed students.  The Rangers are not a wholesome group of individuals that all believe in each other, but rather teenagers distrustful of new members, and slow to forgive misdeeds.

Telling a story of the Green Ranger trying to move on from a past of which he is not proud, this book presents themes that are infinitely relatable to children, teens, and adults alike.  By starting with a foundation of the familiar, heavy themes are brought to light and laid bare for those willing to overlook the Sunday Morning children’s programming veneer.





Though it shouldn’t have surprised me, given the quality of other Boom! Studios books, WWE is a fantastic graphic novel that uses Wrestling as a platform to explore complex interpersonal issues and deal with concepts such as betrayal, what success means and what it looks like, and the importance of choosing friends wisely.

Much like Power Rangers if one can look past the branding they will realize that wrestlers are not that different from Superheroes – flashy costumes, superhuman abilities, and outrageous names.  There are none that doubt that superheroes can explore complex issues, and as such one should realize that WWE rises to those same heights. Though marketed to a male audience, there are a number of strong female characters who demonstrate the different challenges that are faced by a variety of people in our schools.

By presenting students with characters and scenarios they are familiar with, building the intrinsic desire to keep turning the pages and picking up the next volume and the next, they might not even realize their building their literacy skills and becoming stronger readers in the process.




Steven Universe

Steven Universe‘s strength lies with its diverse cast of characters who all work for the betterment of themselves and those they care about.  With positive messages on every page, this comic will appeal to students who are familiar with the television show, by expanding on the characters they already know rather than boring them by rehashing the same plots again and again.

By taking mundane tasks, as well as great large scale adventures, and presenting messages of strength and success one quickly learns that every actions has value and that even the smallest task can share the same highs of a great undertaking.




Bill & Ted Go to Hell

“Be Excellent to Each Other.”  These words are no less important now than they were when the world was first introduced to Bill and Ted in 1989.

Introducing characters ripped from the history textbook, Bill and Ted contain the totally tubular experiences of teenage boys from decades long past.  Fresh, and light this is a perfect text for students who have a hard time reading, or becoming invested in their texts.  With few word bubbles per page, and an art style that helps navigate students through the decoding process, Bill and Ted Go to Hell is a perfect option for any Literature Circle.





1. About|BOOM! Studios







SPOTLIGHT: Udon Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: Boom! Studios

November 22, 2018: Google Forms Training Session


If you’ve been putting off learning Google Forms then it’s time to take the plunge.  A free training sessions will take place on NOVEMBER 22ND, 2018 for all Toronto District School Board teachers.



Registration is MANDATORY but also FREE!  It can be completed through:  

Sign up for TLT421-A to attend the session led by Michael Barltrop and Brian Harriman.



You will walk away with a printed hardcopy of the INTRODUCTION TO GOOGLE FORMS.  This will take you from ZERO to BEGINNER knowledge all the way to creating SELF-MARKING tests and quizzes!



Literacy Skills: Short Stories

LITERACY SKILLS are the key, transferable skills required to process, and understand the multitude of TEXTS we encounter every day.  From VISUAL to AUDITORY, from video games to novels, we rely on our skills to make meaning and ascertain messages.

Like all skills, they must be developed, honed, and practiced.  One of the best ways to INTRODUCE or REINFORCE these skills with your students in through the use of SHORT STORIES.  For that reason, a number of lessons have been developed for specific stories.



What Are Literacy Skills?

For a primer on the TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS you should review the following articles:


What’s Included?

Each Lesson is fully explained and laid out in a WEB BASED format, that explains what PRIOR KNOWLEDGE is required, and what the NEXT STEPS should be.

MORE IMPORTANTLY each lesson comes with a FREE DOWNLOADABLE PDF of the lesson that is CLASSROOM-READY to be copied and handed to students for immediate use!

If you would like to SUPPORT ME you can choose to purchase the FULL PACKAGES of resources through my TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS account.  However, this is not necessary, and all individual assignments are completely FREE through this site.


How to Use These Lessons

You can introduce a class to one text, and have them work through all TEN assignments based on the specific text.  However, you may also find it more valuable to progress through the ten skills using a VARIETY of texts.  As each collection uses the same framework, and basic assignments, you will have no problem switching from one story to the next, so long as you MAINTAIN the order in which you tackle the TEN SKILLS.


The Short Stories

Below you will find links to the specific SHORT STORIES for which LITERACY SKILLS ASSIGNMENTS have been created.  Feel free to comment with recommendations for additional stories.

Charles, by Shirley Jackson – Lexile Level 760


Charles: Focusing on Literacy Skills [Synthesizing]

Having read your TEXT, you will create a MIND MAP exploring different connections between the story and the world around you.  Next, they will research THREE of the connections before choosing one PROJECT-BASED FORMAT.  Finally, you will use that format to create a SYNTHESIS of both the STORY and your RESEARCH in order to fully express the impact the story had on you.  A short written piece is required to explain your choices.

Charles: A Focus on Literacy Skills

Charles is a short story written by Shirley Jackson in 1948.  A full copy of the text can be READ HERE.  This SERIES will focus on all TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS.  The lessons are arranged in SEQUENTIAL ORDER which builds a strong foundation before moving on to the next skill.

This series is an excellent way to BEGIN your class’s semester, ensuring everyone has a strong understanding of BASIC LITERACY SKILLS before you gradually release responsibility, asking them to put those skills into practice.

Explore other SHORT STORY LITERACY SKILLS ASSIGNMENTS for more ways to instruct your students.






Readers can COMBINE ideas from the TEXT, with ideas from ADDITIONAL TEXTS, as well as with their own prior knowledge.  Through this process they develop a new, fuller understanding of a topic.  Synthesizing combines knowledge from varied sources, creating new insights into a topic.


This task is broken into a number of stages.  Ensure you read, and fully understand each stage before you begin.

Mind Mapping

Write the NAME of your story in the CENTRE BUBBLE.  Next, fill the other EIGHT bubbles with ONE WORD EACH.  Each word should be some the story made you THINK about.  FINALLY think of something most of the bubbles have in common.  This will be the THEME of your synthesis piece.

mind map



Once you have completed your mind map, select THREE of the concepts that best fit your THEME. For each concept, research ONE article (of any type) and take brief POINT FORM notes about them in the space provided.

Research Piece Number One





Research Piece Number Two





Research Piece Number Three





Project-Based Synthesis

Now that you have finished your RESEARCH choose and create ONE of the following forms to create a GESTALT SYNTHESIS that demonstrates those concepts to the best of your ability. (A GESTALT is something that when combined is more valuable than the sum of its individual parts).

Remember, your SYNTHESIS must include aspects from both the ASSIGNED TEXT and your RESEARCH PIECES.

Synthesis Forms

  • A short story (600 – 1000 words in length)
  • A collection of poetry (400 – 600 words in length)
  • A short essay (500 – 800 words in length)
  • A visual art piece (8.5 x 11 minimum)
  • A song (1.5 – 3.5 minutes in length)
  • A short live-action video (1.5 – 2.5 minutes in length)
  • A short animated video (30 – 60 seconds)
  • A photo essay (7 – 10 pictures in length)
  • OTHER – Confirm with your teacher before proceeding


You are required to WRITE a short (200 – 400) word piece explaining HOW  your finished piece was INFORMED by both the STORY and your THREE RESEARCHED ARTICLES.


Finished PROJECT shows strong connection between the text, and three researched concepts. Selected form is used to FULLY and CREATIVELY explore the all aspects of the PROJECT. All pieces are of HIGH QUALITY and show strong evidence of EDITING and REVISION. Self-Reflection shows strong METACOGNITIVE skills, thoroughly exploring all aspects of your creation.

What’s Next

You’ve reached the end of your LITERACY SKILL journey with CHARLES;  However, this is but one journey.  For each story, there is another path to be explored.  Feel free to VIEW ADDITIONAL STORIES or apply these skills and lessons to a personal favourite of your own.



Charles – WhatBinderDotCom Literacy Skills – Synthesizing.PDF





Charles: Literacy Skills Series

Charles: Annotating

Charles: Determining Importance

Charles: Summarizing

Charles: Visualizing

Charles: Inferring

Charles: Questioning

Charles: Connecting

Charles: Comparing

Charles: Predicting

Charles: Synthesizing

Common Essay Problems – Formal Writing

Formal essays, and short writing pieces can often leave students grasping to understand why their assessment doesn’t match their expectations.  This is because there are a number of common mistakes that students make.  In a number of cases, this isn’t even their fault as, often, they aren’t even taught to look for them.

Here are FIVE common mistakes students make in their formal writing.



1. Use the Formal Voice

The FORMAL VOICE is used to remove both the author and the reader from the piece of writing.  When you write an essay you want your writing to stand alone, presented from the perspective of an expert who does not need to involve themself in the piece.

What it Looks Like

The FORMAL VOICE requires that students DO NOT use “I”, “you”, “we”, “my”, or other similar pronouns in their piece.


Poor Example: I think that Batman is the best book, and you will like it because he’s cool.

Better Example: Batman is the best book.  One will enjoy it, as Batman is cool.

Why the Second Example is Better

In the first example the author involves themselves by stating, “I think…”.  This problem is overcome in the better example by simply stating the fact that they believe.  It is implied that the statement is what they think, as they are the author of the piece.

Next, the first example is problematic as it involves the reader by stating “you will…”.  The better example solves this problem by using the FORMALLY REMOVED term “one”.  Should you ever need to refer to an other in your formal text, using the term “one” helps overcome the use of informal language.


2. Be Confident and Sure

In a formal piece of writing the reader should not have to GUESS or make ASSUMPTIONS.  Students often will write vague or unspecific sentences that remove credibility from their otherwise strong impact.

What it Looks Like

Using terms like “probably”, “may”, “sometimes”, or “many” often (but not always as is the case with the use of the term often in this sentence) remove confidence and credibility from a formal piece.


Poor Example: You may like Batman, because he sometimes acts as a hero, which is something you’ll probably enjoy.

Better Example: One will enjoy Batman comics as he is a hero.  The reader will be engaged by his actions.

Why the Second Example is Better

In the first example the reader states that one “may” like Batman.  As their duty is to prove that the reader will like Batman, they have already created a self-imposed roadblock for success.  Rather than stating that one “may” like Batman, they need only say that one “will” like Batman.

Next, rather than explaining that the reader will “probably” enjoy something that Batman “sometimes” does, they can be sure, confident, and direct by stating that the reader “will” enjoy the actions that Batman takes.  While Batman may not always do the same thing, that doesn’t need to be expressly stated – as it is assumed that characters take a variety of actions.

Even if the reader wants to draw attention to the fact that Batman makes different choices based on the specifics of a situation, they should give SPECIFIC EXAMPLES rather than just stating “Sometimes Batman does this, and other times he does that.”


3. Always Be Specific

When you are making a point, you must ALWAYS SUPPORT IT with SPECIFIC TEXTUAL DETAILS.  It’s not enough to claim that something is true – it must be supported with examples that come from specifically summarizing an event or text, or from direct quotations from the source.

What it Looks Like

Students make claims but fail to support them with specific examples that prove the claim to the reader.  Students feel that because they know something is true, or obvious, the reader should as well.

The trap of the obvious is what normally leads to students failing to use specific examples.


Poor Example: This text is great because Batman stops criminals.

Better Example: This text highlights the importance of the failing Justice System when Batman decides to stop the Organized crime boss, Falcone, by becoming a vigilante.

Why the Second Example is Better

In the second example the reader doesn’t simply state the vague idea that “Batman stops criminals”.  Instead, they point out that “Batman … stop[s] … Falcone”.  This specific example allows the reader to fully understand the impact and importance of the action, while also offering specific evidence from their text.

The second example also explains that the “text is great” without needing to state that, as the reason the text is great is clearly pointed out: It “highlights the importance of the failing Justice System”.


4. Don’t Editorialize

Formal writing should be filled with FACTS and DETAILS.  At times students decide to add an emotional explanation to their piece which is better left to the reader to arrive at on their own.

What it Looks Like

When students write that something is “unfortunate” or “sad” they are adding an emotional slant to their piece.  Likewise, when students write that a “great” or “exciting” event has occurred, they are similarly tarnishing the integrity of their piece by remaining removed from it.


Poor Example: It was sad when Batman discovered the Joker had lead to the upsetting death of Barbara’s child.

Better Example: Joker’s use of an electric buzzer caused the death of Barbara’s child, leading to Batman’s relentless hunt.

Why the Second Example is Better

The first example tells the reader that the event was “sad” and that the death was “upsetting”.  In both cases, these can be removed as the specific details of the event are more than enough to convince the reader of the emotional resonance of the actions.

By remaining removed from the emotional subtext, the reader is allowed to come to their own conclusions based on the facts and evidence provided.


5. Don’t Involve the Reader

While we have already seen how to keep the reader removed by removing the use of pronouns that specifically refer to them, it is just as important to keep a formal piece as a one way piece of communication.

A piece of formal writing is NOT CONVERSATION.  Due to that, the writer should not ask questions of the reader, as they have no way to answer.  Now, many of you may be asking, “but what about rhetorical questions?”  There’s obviously no need to address that is there?

I won’t leave that as an unanswered rhetorical question.  While there is a place for them, students often have a hard time using them effectively, and their use normally leads to them undermining their own piece.  While they can be powerful, they require EXPLICIT direct instruction as to their effective use.

What it Looks Like

Involving the reader in a ONE SIDED DIALOGUE looks like the use of a QUESTION MARK.  There is rarely a reason for a question mark to exist in a piece of formal writing.  The purpose of the formal piece is to impart knowledge, not to seek it.


Poor Example: Do you like superheroes?  Then you’ll dig on Batman!

Better Example: Superheroes are popular in modern film and television.  This popularity translates to one’s enjoyment with written text as well.

Why the Second Example is Better

In the second example the write simply explains that readers most likely enjoy superheroes.  And, rather than “dig[ging] Batman” it explains that the “popularity translates to … enjoyment”.

By keeping the question out of the piece, the reader is better able to continue reading the piece, without having their flow interrupted by being abruptly addressed and forced to stop and consider something before moving on.

Teaching Literacy Skills through Assignment Creation

The best way to demonstrate that you understand something is to explain it to someone else.  Allow students the opportunity to demonstrate that they understand a concept by flipping expectations and allow them to create assignments rather than complete them.



This lesson focuses on having students READ A SHORT STORY and then break into small groups (I suggest four as a manageable number).  Each group will be assigned one of the TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS and work to create an assignment that will allow other students to demonstrate their mastery of that skill.

Required Foundation

Students must have already been introduced to the ten literacy skills.  I recommend using a one or two page short story before spending two days quickly running through each of the ten skills.  For more information on teaching the skills please refer to the LITERACY SKILLS – AN INTRODUCTION series.

Students will need to have read a SHORT STORY and be prepared to apply their Literacy Skill knowledge to the piece.

Required Materials

At least one student per group will require access to a device capable of using GOOGLE DOCs or MICROSOFT WORD.  While Microsoft Word is an effective tool, it is more beneficial if students use Google Docs.  That way they can SHARE their working assignment with each other, using multiple devices to co-author their piece at the same time.


Girl Reading - PIXABAY.jpg


Assignment Creation Assignment:

Lesson Plan

This lesson plan will reinforce student knowledge of the ten key literacy skills, while also strengthening their knowledge of their group’s assigned skill.  By creating an assignment they will learn how to use digital HEADINGS to format and chunk their work, creating a framework of expectations for assignments their teachers create for them.  Students will also engage in METACOGNITIVE reflection, exploring why their choices were most effective.



Desks must be arranged into groups of four.  A copy of Ten Key Literacy Skills.PDF  must be printed out and cut into ten slips (one per literacy skill).


Minds On

Desks will be prepared in groups of four when students walk into the classroom.  Each desk group will have one Literacy Skill slip (see preparation) on it.  One of the following images will be made available for students to see.


Students will be tasked with applying their specific skill to the image.  Each group should write a brief P.E.E. PARAGRAPH that supports their use of the group’s skill.

Students should then present their paragraph to the class, while explaining the importance of their assigned literacy skill.



Once students have a strong understanding of their specific skill, and have applied it to a visual image, they will be ready to begin the focus of this lesson.

This lesson can be run completely in the computer lab, or it can be split into two days – the first day for IDEATION and the second day for typing up and formatting their assignment.

Students will be instructed to take out their SHORT STORY from a previous class and consider how they could apply their Literacy Skill to that story.  They will have five minutes to plan and take brief notes as a group.

After some time has been given to consider the application of their skills, students will be handed a copy of Assignment Creation Assignment – Literacy Skills (No Example).PDF

Using that handout, students will see that rather than answering questions, and creating a traditional assignment, as they are used to, they will – instead – be the ones responsible for creating the assignment.

The various sections of a strong assignment are laid out of the sheet, and the specific headings that each title needs to be typed in are recorded.

Students will notice that they are creating an assignment in the same style and format as the one they have been handed.  The assignment itself is an exemplar.

Should you wish to offer an additional exemplar, student can be given the Strength through Synthesis – Working Through the Short Story.PDF assignment.

At this point, students are free to work on their creation.



Just before the end of class, each group will be asked to write down ONE question, concern, or problem that is hindering them in the completion of their assignment.  This will be handed to the teacher before they leave the classroom.

The teacher will then read through those slips, noting any difficulties students are having with this new style of task, and work to create resources or instructions for tomorrow’s class that will help students find success.


What’s Next?

Continue to learn about the best ways to TEACH THE KEY LITERACY SKILLS, or choose to focus on one of the following: Summarizing, Determining Importance, Inferring, Predicting, Connecting, Visualizing, Comparing, Questioning, Annotating, or Synthesizing.



Ten Key Literacy Skills.PDF

Assignment Creation Assignment – Literacy Skills (No Example).PDF

Strength through Synthesis – Working Through the Short Story.PDF

Top 10 Key Literary Devices

Literary / Poetic devices are used throughout both fiction and non-fiction to add depth, understanding, and beauty to otherwise dreary prose.  Students need to have an understanding of the devices, as well as how they’re used, before they develop the ability to appreciate the author’s careful crafting.


The Top Ten Devices

  1. Metaphor
  2. Simile
  3. Alliteration
  4. Hyperbole
  5. Imagery
  6. Onomatopoeia
  7. Symbol
  8. Repetition
  9. Allusion
  10. Personification


Teaching the Devices

Even though most of us are familiar with these devices, what they’re used for, and how they work, it can be difficult to explain their value and importance to students.  By offering a definition of the device, along with an example, followed by a visual teachers will ensure students gain a strong understanding of the key concepts.  Finally, you can offer an auditory example for students to identify and explain the device to illustrate mastery of the concept.

Note: Ensure you preview all songs, and are comfortable using them in your classroom.



A Metaphor is a comparison of two unlike things – without using the words like or as – with the intention of offering a stronger understanding to the reader.


The girl is a Cheetah on the gridiron.

By comparing the girl to a Cheetah, the reader has an understanding that she is fast.  They may also picture her as sleek, agile, and slightly predatory.  The use of this comparison offers a far deeper understanding of the girl than had the author simply said “the girl is fast”.


Cheetah - Pixabay.jpg

Audio – Commodores: Brick House




Simile is similar to a Metaphor in that it is a comparison of two unlike things, with the intention of offering a stronger understanding to the reader.  However, a Simile must include the words like or as.


She’s as big as an Ox.

This simile informs the reader that she is big.  It also gives that idea that she might have broad shoulders, and strength beyond that which would normally be expected.


Ox - Pixabay.jpg

Audio – Madonna: Like a Prayer




Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter, or sound, at the beginning of a string of connected words.


Though the winter was cold, a number of crafty crimson cats cuddled on the covered porch.

By repeating the “c” sound, the reader’s attention is focused on the crafty crimson cats, even if only unconsciously.


Crimson Cat - pixabay.jpg

Audio – Blackalicious – Alphabet Aerobics





A hyperbole is a large exaggeration to draw the reader’s attention to a specific feature or concept.


This homework is going to take forever!

The homework will not take forever.  It might take an hour or two, but odds are time will not end before the homework is completed.


Homework - Pixabay.jpg

Audio – Katy Perry – California Gurls




Imagery uses descriptive language to paint a detailed image in the reader’s mind, allowing them to better transport themselves into the world of the story.


Walking out of your hostel in Bangkok you go from dry to wet in the time it takes to cross the threshold.  Ash from the nearby noodle stand clings to your arms, made both slick and sticky by the ninety percent humidity.  The scent of burnt pork reminds you of the emptiness from not having eaten last night, choosing instead to spend your last few Baht on the bracelet that still shimmers and shines, while also cutting into your wrist ever so slightly.  Though it growls, your stomach will not be filled today, the only flavour you’ll taste is that of the other passengers sweat as you’re pressed against them on the two hour bus to the Cambodian border.

By describing all five senses, the author attempts to place the reader into the setting, allowing them a better understanding of the needs and feelings of the protagonist.  By writing in Second Person the author attempts to fully place the reader within their text.


Bangkok - Pixabay.jpg

Audio – Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven




Onomatopoeia is used to replace sounds with words.


The fire engine went woosh as it drove past.  Wee-ew! Wee-ew! Its siren let the cars know it was coming.

While there is no word that mimics the sound of a vehicle rushing past, or a siren blaring, we can approximate the noise by doing our best to spell what the noises sound like.


Firetruck Pixabay.jpg

Audio – Nursery Rhyme – Old MacDonald Had a Farm




symbol is when a shape or object is used to represent a much larger concept.


An apple rested on his desk, freshly plucked and ready to be offered.

Due to the literary significance of apples there are a number of implications that could be made based on the above sentence.  Apples are closely tied with teachers, though they also carry the connotation of being poisoned gifts.  Biting into an apple is also related to loss of innocence.  Due to the apple in the above example, the reader can infer a number of things that would not be possible if the fruit were, instead, a kumquat.


apple - pixabay

Audio – The Rolling Stones – Paint it Black




When a particular phrase, or word, appears over and over in a written work, that is an example of Repetition.


A lion looked at me from the porch, its face frozen in stone.  Walking home a lion followed me halfway around the block, until it jumped over the neighbours fence.  A lion looked down at me from my father’s bearded face.  Even as I lay in bed, a lion watched from the stars above.  And I wondered, would I ever find my way back to K2-18b and finally escape from this unspoken persecution?

By repeating the word lion the reader is offered great insight into what the character is perseverating about.


Leo - pixabay

Audio – Daft Punk – Around the World

Looking for more songs that use repetition?  Try here.




An Allusion is when an author references something well known, without literally stating what they are talking about.


“Contrary to the rumours you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth.”
Barack Obama

By making this statement, Barak is alluding to the fact that he is not Jesus Christ, while at the same time telling people he is Superman.  Through this statement people are given an understanding of who he is, as well as his personality.


cape - pixabay.jpg

Audio – Five For Fighting – Superman




Personification occurs when human characteristics are given to something non-human, including animals.


The lamp hung its head in shame, unable to offer Sandra the answers she so thoroughly needed.

By ascribing the emotion of shame to the lamp, the author draws attention to the natural shape of the desklamp, while also highlighting Sandra working tirelessly, to no avail, on her current task.


lamp - -pixabay.jpg

Audio – Frank Sinatra – New York, New York




A Final Recap

For those looking to use a song as an evaluation piece, I Love the Way you Lie by Eminem featuring Rihanna has a number of devices.

This song can also be used to transition into a unit on Gender in the Media.  A full unit plan can be found at this link.



10 Key Literary Devices – With Examples and Definitions and Explanations.pdf

10 Key Literary Devices – With Examples and Definitions.pdf

10 Key Literary Devices – No Examples.pdf

10 Key Literary Devices – No Definitions or Examples.pdf

10 Key Literary Devices – Song Identification.pdf

Spotlight On: Udon Entertainment Comics

UDON Entertainment publishes graphic novels based on well-known properties such as Street FighterOkamiMega ManDark Souls, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Robotech.1

Their new line, Manga Classics, has positioned UDON as leading publishers for educational and classroom use.  Their Cheif, and founder, Erik Ko stated that his mother asked why UDON didn’t make graphic novels that students could relate to, while also engaging with well know – and important – novels.  In that instance, Manga Classics was born.

This article will take a look at both Manga Classics and the traditional UDON Entertainment line of comics, highlighting a number of their texts, and how they should be placed within your classroom.

WhatBinder wrote a series for those who want to know more about using Comics in the Classroom.

Manga Classics

Bringing classic novels to life for students is the main focus of UDON Entertainment’s Manga Classics line.  They have an ever-growing list of texts which can be found here.

While the primary focus of their books has been on classic novels, they are also expanding to include a number of Shakespeare plays.  While they currently offer Romeo + Juliet, their next two upcoming projects include the Shakespearian play Macbeth, as well as the classic Stoker novel, Dracula.

A number of teachers have been using Manga Classics in their classroom.  You can read their testimonies and blog posts to gain a deeper understanding of how others have put these books into practice.  But, there are few better ways to gain an understanding of the value these Manga Classics offer than by taking a look at some sample pages.



Art by: Julien Choy | Adapted by: Crystal Chan

The crisp line art complements the text, adding a layer that improves students’ ability to decode complex texts.  Furthermore, the authentic retelling of the classic texts allows the student to have a full understanding of the material, leaving them well positioned to demonstrate their Literacy Skills.

For teachers looking to imbue a love of the classics in their students, there are few greater texts to look at than the Manga Classics like by UDON Entertainment.

Pop-Culture Graphic Novels

UDON Entertainment publishes Comics based on a number of well-known properties.  As we know, students read at a higher level when they are familiar with the material.  By introducing texts the student connects to and feels an intrinsic desire to read, they will be fully able to demonstrate the extent of their literacy skills.

Street Fighter: Akuma

This graphic novel is based on the popular Video Game series Street Fighter.  The character of Akuma was first introduced in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, released in 1994.  Since then he has been an enigmatic character who is most often viewed as a villain.

This comic tells the tale of how a young boy faced tragedy, made different choices than his brother did in dealing with his emotional turmoil, eventually rising to power, becoming the man he is in the video game series.



Though it might be difficult to believe, this comic deals with the importance of familial relationships, the unforeseen consequences of  seemingly well-intentioned choices, a lust for power once one has felt a small taste.



This text is based on a popular video game series that was first introduced on the Play Station 2 in 2004.  Katamari Damacy was the first in a long line of games that has seen its latest iteration of iPhones and Android devices.

The basic concept of the game is that a small Prince (of the Cosmos) pushes a little ball around, sticking things to it as it grows larger and larger.  Though simplistic in nature, the game has themes and concepts that the comic greatly expands on.


This text deals with the – sometimes painful – relationships between father and son.  By demonstrating examples of how gender-normative emotional expression can have negative repercussions on children, students will be able to make a number of connections between this text and the world around them.

Introducing a variety of characters, each with their own unique style, concepts such as selfworthinward validation, and personal growth are also greatly touched upon.


Mega Man

Mega Man, known as Rockman in the original Japanese, was first introduced to the public in his eponymous 1987 NES game.  Since then, he has appeared in dozens of video games.

Known by almost all students, Mega Man is a character who chooses to stand up for what he believes in.  Standing against the other robotic creations, he has a sense of justice that goes beyond what he was created to be.  Having spanned decades, there is a rich history that explores a number of key themes that are relevant to your classroom.


One of the key concepts in Mega Man is society’s dependence on technology.  With a near complete automation of manual labor, and service level jobs, the world seemed at peace; however, one rogue hacker was able to greatly disturb the existing system.

Comparisons between this fictional world, envisioned long before the Internet was carried around with us in our pockets, Mega Man allows students to use it as a basis for insights into our own technology-driven world.


1. About|UDON Entertainment







SPOTLIGHT: Udon Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: Boom! Studios


Comic Book Publishers for Teachers to be Aware Of

There are a wealth of Comic Book publishers out there.  Obviously, there are the big two: Marvel and DC.  There are also the two other large houses, Image and Dark Horse.  But those are only a small handful of the many publishers in the Comic Books scene today.

Many people are probably familiar with Scholastic, as there is no warmer feeling that opening a coloured newsprint book order, and searching for all the best deals to be had.  And, of course, there is the Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly that looks towards showcasing talent from coast to coast.  But these are still just a small handful of publishers in the wider landscape.


Publishers with an Educational Focus

There are a number of Comic Book publishers with a clear focus on Education.  They see their texts not only as escapist fiction, but also as a tool that can help students focus on their Literacy Skills, or enhance other areas of their academics.

Four key publishers to watch out for are UDON Entertainment, Boom Studios, Renegade Arts Entertainment, and Top Cow.


UDON Entertainment – Manga Classics

UDON Entertainment is the leading Comics Publisher when it comes to focusing on education.  Not only have they created strong manga adaptations of classic stories such as Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter, Jane Eyre, and many more.

While maintaining the integrity and writing style of the original versions, Manga Classics translates texts for student consumption, while helping with decoding by juxtaposing images and text.

Not only has UDON Entertainment created strong texts for students, they have also created a number of Education Resources for their texts, including teacher guides that conform to Common Core standards, as well as a number of text-specific Lesson Plans.

Striving to make their products as classroom-friendly as possible, they continue to develop new resources, leading the way in Educational Graphic Novels and Comics.

“We were inspired to create Manga Classics as way to bring classic stories to a new generation of readers.  This format is a brilliant tool for providing context for the reader.  Once the student has a sense of what the world looked like during the time of Dickens, Austin, Twain or Bronte, their embrace of that story becomes permanent.  Their ability to retain and recall the story, as well as the themes is so much greater than if they were to rely on text alone.”
-Manga Classics and UDON Entertainment Inc.


Boom! Studios

Boom! Studios is a fantastic Comic Publisher that focuses on high-interest texts for young adults.  Their texts range from those that tackle complex gender issues, such as About Betty’s Boob, to coming of age stories like Giant Days.  Their most popular text is currently Lumberjanes.  As you may have noticed, a number of their texts feature strong female protagonists.  While this wasn’t entirely by design, the strong female representation within their Editorial Department has ensured an equitable spread of topics throughout their catalogue.

You can view their entire collection at their Series Website.

Understanding that students read at a higher level when consuming familiar subject matters, Boom! Studios also offer a number of texts based off of popular IP.  While some might easily overlook a number of their mainstream titles, doing so would be a great disservice.  Their Mighty Morphing Power Rangers and WWE: World Wrestling Entertainment comics both deal with complex themes, wrapped in a familiar narrative.  These texts are both excellent for encouraging young male readers to explore difficult concepts while making strong emotional connections to the material.

Understanding that classroom-ready material aids in comic integration into wider unit plans, both Teacher Guides and Parental Guides have been created for their title The Not So Secret Society.  They can be downloaded from the NS3 Website.  These guides are highly engaging, well designed, and include all handouts needed to use this text in your classroom.


Renegade Arts Entertainment

Renegade Arts Entertainment is a wonderful place to look if you want to infuse comics into your History curriculum.  They have a number of texts which focus heavily on historical events, such as The Loxleys and the War of 1812, as well as Redcoats-ish.  Both texts have lesson plans.  The Loxley’s has a number of Teacher resources, including a film created in partnership with the National Film Board.  The resources for Redcoast-ish can be downloaded at this link.

“The importance of graphic novels as a gateway to reading must not be underestimated. As many teachers and librarians will attest, using graphic novels to engage reluctant readers is a proven and effective strategy to cultivate a love for reading that will grow to encompass all forms of literature. At Renegade we are well aware and actively invested in our stories engaging readers of all levels, whether it is to foster a love of our history or to entertain whilst giving our readers an insight to do different viewpoints and aspects of society.”
-Alexander Fishbow, Publisher – Renegade Arts and Entertainment


Top Cow

Top Cow has made a number of their comics available for free download.  These issues can be used with your class without any budgetary concerns.  While their comics may not be strictly geared to the needs of your classroom, their title Think Tank includes a 14-page Afterword titled Science Class which explains the real-world connections to the text.

The entries include information on Carbon Nanofibers, Military Golf Courses, Love [as] a Biochemical Response, and Albert Einstein.  These entries often include weblinks so students can continue their personal research.  This makes for the perfect jumping off point for a personal research project in your Science Class.


What’s Next?

Next, we will look at what comics are well suited for your classroom, shining a spotlight on both UDON Entertainment and their Manga Classics line, as well as Boom! Studios diverse line of texts.






SPOTLIGHT: Udon Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: Boom! Studios

Comic Books Help Our Students With Decoding

Decoding is the process of making meaning from text.  You’re doing it right now.  Where some might see nonsensical shapes, you see letters – or perhaps you just see the words.  In your mind you give these shapes meaning.  Some do so by subvocalizing, while others translate the text directly into internalized meaning and understanding.  Our students do not all have this ability, and must be taught skills to aid in the decoding process.  By combining visuals with their text, comic books are an excellent tool that help our students decode meaning.

This is part of and ongoing series on Comics in the Classroom.  When teachers looks to introduce Key Literacy Skills to their students, they often overlook the most powerful tool in reaching their students – Comic Books.  This multi-part series explores why comics should be used in your classroom, as well as what books are best suited for your classroom.  All articles in this series can be Read Here.


Our Students All Have the Ability to Succeed

We know that all our students have the ability to consider complex ideas and express them to us.  They do this every day, when they describe the events of their weekends, why they’re mad at their best friend, the inexcusable unjust action of their parents’ taking away their cell phone, or a – possibly fictitious – series of events that led to their homework being incomplete by deadline.  However, when we put a piece of writing in front of our students and ask them to infer why the protagonist chose to engage the antagonist before they were prepared, or when we request that they make a text-to-self connection with the antagonist in order to better understand their decisions, they may spend an entire period producing nothing.

Some teachers are quick to conclude that the student just doesn’t have what it takes, complaining in their staff room that the child is obviously misplaced in their level.  Despite the mountains of evidence that show the student connects with the lyrics of their favourite song, and can make an educated guess as to what the outcome of their unfinished assignment will be, some teachers decide to take the path of least resistance.  They assure themselves that the problem lies with the student rather than with the teaching.


Why Students Find it Difficult to Succeed

The reason why many students find it difficult to demonstrate their literacy skills when responding to teacher-assigned texts is often due to the fact that they have trouble decoding the text itself.  While some comic books offer complex concepts at a lower reading level, there are some – like UDON Entertainment’s Manga Classics – that use the same language that is present in the original novels.

Why then might a student have an easier time understanding Jane Eyre or the unabridged The Jungle Book in comic format, even though the text is still as complex as in their original prose?


Learning their Language

Imagine that you are learning a new language.  Picture yourself sitting at your favourite desk, your kitchen table, curled up on your sofa in front of a roaring fire, or even lying barefoot on a dock gently rocking with each passing wave.  You have a notebook in front of you, and a pencil in your hand. You’re ready to start diving into French, or Japanese, or Maori, or Basic Conversational Ojibway. Now, picture the things that surround you to aid in your studies.

Do you have a four hundred page book with black text on cream coloured pages, with nothing else to aid you?  Or do you – perhaps – have a full coloured text book chunked into specific sections with pictures to aid you along the way?  Is it possible that you might have your laptop, or television so that you can watch videos that have actors speaking a sentence aloud, before acting out a short skit that visualizes what they explained?  Now, if you don’t fancy bringing technology down to the lake, you might realize that you can easily replace those videos with a few comic strips that do the same thing – they show parallel actions that complement the written text.


The Importance of Visuals

And why are these visuals so important when learning something new?  Because, though we are unfamiliar with the words, we can use our prior knowledge to help us make meaning from the pictures.  By doing this, we attribute meaning to the words, so that the next time we see them we can associate them with the visuals, look for connections, and attain mastery of language.

For our students understanding:

“Mother! Mother! Give me sunshine on the roof”
“No, my little pearl.  You must gather your own sunshine.  I have none to give you.”
The Scarlet Letter, UDON Entertainment (110-111)

can be just as complicated as when we try to understand:

Densha wa doko desu ka?
(Where is the Train – Japanese)

In each example, having pictures accompanying the text can help the readers make meaning, and learn from their readings.

When given the opportunity to use visuals to understand the meaning of the texts they are reading, students are able to fully decode their texts, enabling them to demonstrate their literacy skills for whatever follow-up tasks and projects you assign.


What’s Next?

Having looked at why comics should be used in the classroom as well as why students are more willing to read comics we will next look at which comic book publishers you should be aware of for your classroom needs.


Part One: Comics in the Classroom

Part Two: Students Will Read Comics

Part Three: Comics Help with Decoding

Part Four: Publishers to Be Aware Of

SPOTLIGHT: Udon Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: Boom! Studios