The Comics Laureate Dave Gibbons and Oxford University Press create a new way to introduce children to classic stories and poetry

Oxford University Press Project X BooksCurrent Comics Laureate Dave Gibbons has teamed up with comprehension expert, Lindsay Pickton, and global education publisher, Oxford University Press, to create 28 brand new Graphic Texts, now available, as part of their wider Project X reading and writing programme.

Authors and illustrators involved in the project, supporting Dave’s mission as Comics Laureate to use comics and graphic texts to promote literacy in schools, include Rob Alcraft, Grenade Arson, Chris Baker, Pep Boatella, Xavier Bonet, Tony Bradman, Elen Caldecott, Eoin Coveney, Matt Dawson, Paul Davidson, Zosia Dzierzawska, Daniel Duncan, James Driver, Alan Gibbons, James Gifford, Santy Gutierrez, Becca Heddle,  J.A. Henderson, Ben Hubbard, Sam Hubbard, Nick Hunter, Emily Kimbell, Michelle Lamoreaux, Sam Ledoyen, Yishan Li, Ian MacDonald, Paul Mason, Ruben Megido, Liz Miles, Jorge Monlongo, Will Morris, Ciaran Murtagh, James Nathan, James Noble, Jo Nelson, Claire O’Brien, Neto Olivares, Alberto Pagliaro, Christian Papazoglakis, Craig Phillips, Giovanni Pota, Tashi Reeve, Jade Sarson, Briony May Smith, Joe Todd Stanton, Nuria Tamarit, Sally Jane Thompson,  Isabel Thomas , Steven Tillotson, Mike Tucker, Oriol Vidal, Miranda Walker and Alex Woolf.

The texts offer teachers a new way to introduce children aged 8–11 to classics such as The Secret GardenAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Oliver Twist, as well as beautiful poetry from William Wordsworth , Wilfred Owen and Edgar Allen Poe, and engaging non-fiction about famous inventors, scientists and explorers.

“As with the works of Dickens, comics have been around since Victorian times and arguably even before that,” Dave notes. “The Bayeux Tapestry or Trojan’s column have been described as being forms of comic strips and I think there is something intrinsic in telling a tale in words and pictures that has always appealed to people.”

Dave first established himself in underground comics and fanzines in Britain before becoming a frequent contributor to the seminal 2000AD, illustrating “Harlem Heroes”, “Dan Dare” and co-creating Rogue Trooper. Since then, he has drawn and written for most comics publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, his work encompassing Doctor Who, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, Dr Strange, The Hulk, Predator and Aliens.

Watchmen, his collaboration with writer Alan Moore, is the best-selling graphic novel ever published and became a major motion picture. His autobiographical graphic novel The Originals won an Eisner Award in 2005. His recent work has included Kingsman: The Secret Service, with Mark Millar.

In 2015, Dave was appointed the first ever Comics Laureate by the charity CLAw (Comics Literacy Awareness); part of his remit in this biennial post is to spearhead campaigns to improve child literacy in the UK by using comics and graphic novels. In June of the same year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University Of Dundee in recognition of his achievements in comics.

Dave will be on hand as the next Comics Laureate is announced tomorrow, at the opening event of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Lindsay Pickton is an experienced independent Learning and Teaching Adviser, specialising in all aspects of primary literacy with a particular focus developing children’s comprehension and  fostering enjoyment of reading. He was himself a reluctant reader at school and was finally ‘hooked’ by comics and graphic texts.

Lindsay worked as a primary school teacher before serving as a literacy consultant to a local school authority for over thirteen years. He is a prominent speaker at conferences promoting children’s literacy and has co-authored teaching handbooks for Project X. Lindsay has also led the Literacy Subject Leaders’ Network in Kingston since 2001.

With recent analysis from this year’s Key Stage 2 reading assessments showing how children are falling behind with comprehension, and reports such as the Save the Children Read On. Get On. campaign highlighting how many children are ‘switched off’ from reading, Graphic Texts can offer an alternative way to help children to re-connect with reading.

“Graphic Texts have visual appeal; every page and every panel has something in it to attract the readers’ attention and to propel them forward through the narrative,” says Dave.

The detailed illustrations and clear text layout also offer children support with their comprehension skills such as vocabulary development and inference.

“Reading a graphic text is a really active experience which requires the reader to synthesise the words and the pictures as they read,” Dave explains. “Inference has to take place, not only within the panels with the words and the pictures but also between the panels where the reader has to infer the change of circumstance or location or the action that has taken place.”

“Ask any teacher what holds children back in their progress as readers and they will probably say ‘inference’,” says Andrea Quincey, Head of Primary English at Oxford University Press. ” Graphic texts can really help in this area because they encourage readers to think, to question, to infer meaning and to form their own opinions and responses to a text. And when children understand and are emotionally connected to what they read, they are far more motivated to read more.”

To help teachers explore and get the most out of these graphic texts, educational advisors, Lindsay Pickton, Christine Chen, and James Clements have developed clear guided reading notes for teachers. In addition, Lindsay has made some films for the Oxford University Press school improvement service, Oxford Owl, and is running free guided reading workshops throughout the UK, to help teachers get the most from using graphic texts in the classroom.

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford, furthering the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford University Press is part of a charitable organisation with deep roots in the educational community, with a presence in more than 50 countries around the world. OUP’s educational division publishes books and supporting materials for the Primary, Secondary and International markets.

Oxford University Press also publishes fiction for children including the number one home learning series Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper.

• All the Project X Graphic Texts are available from amazon.co.uk and other book retailers physical and digital

• Project X Graphic Texts webpage: https://global.oup.com/education/content/primary/series/projectx/project-x-graphic-texts

• Oxford Owl School Improvement Platform: www.oxfordowl.co.uk

• Oxford University Press: www.oup.com  

 

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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