Lesson Plans

Using Graphic Novels in Education

  • American Born Chinese is a 2006 National Book Award Honor Book for Young People’s literature, the 2007 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award honoring literary excellence in Young Adult literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album, and a 2007 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year. In this work, Yang skillfully weaves three seemingly independent stories of Chinese folklore, a teenager’s need to fit in, and adolescents’ balancing of their Chinese American heritage.

    American Born Chinese

  • Aya was the winner of the Best First Album award at the Angouleme International Comics Festival, the Children’s Africana Book Award, and the Glyph Award. It was also nominated for the Quill Award, the YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels, and the Eisner award. It has also been included on the “Best Of” lists from The Washington Post, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. It has been adapted into a film, Aya of Yop City (produced by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux).


  • Babymouse is an award-winning graphic novel series that showcases the trials and tribulations of elementary school students and teachers, as seen through the eyes of Babymouse, as spunky, lovable mouse who wrestles with popularity, quirky lockers, competition — in the school band, school play, math Olympics, and even the best birthday party ever — and more. The series has won multiple Children’s Choice awards, the 2006 Gryphon Award, the 2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, the 2006 New York Book Show Award,


  • Boxers & Saints (First Second Books, 2013) was recently placed on the shortlist for the 2013 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature — the second time a graphic novel has been nominated. (The first American Born Chinese, also by Gene Yang, was nominated in 2006.)  We highlight Boxers and Saints here for two reasons: first, in honor of its prestigious nomination; but even more importantly, because this two-book set illustrates the importance of understanding and analyzing conflict from multiple perspectives, in the hope of teaching and reaching greater understanding and tolerance.

    Boxers & Saints

  • Drama (recommended for ages 9-14) is a fictional story about seventh-grader Callie, who like most kids her age, wrestles with a pesky, snooping little brother, while navigating middle friendships and school crushes. The interesting thing about Callie is her passion around being on the Drama Club’s tech crew and interacting with her friends in the club. What makes this book so special though, is its message to young girls. More specifically, what makes Callie happiest is not being cool or popular or even winning “the boy.” Instead, it’s working hard on her set ideas, becoming the best stage manager ever of the Drama Club, and refining her voice, her vision, and her skills within that role.


  • Hilo is a wonderful series about JD Lim, an average boy (in a family of super-stars) who thinks he’s only great at one thing – being Gina’s friend. But Gina moves away and DJ is on his own. Until one day something shoots down from the sky and in the crater, DJ finds Hilo, a boy in silver underwear. From that moment on, DJ is good at two things: being friends with Gina (who moves back) and Hilo. The problem is that Hilo doesn’t remember much about his past. He doesn’t remember where he’s from, or why he’s come to Earth. And he has no idea why he’s wearing silver underpants, although he thinks they’re really cool. Together, Hilo, DJ and Gina start piecing the fragments of Hilo’s memory together as strange robots continue to collide to Earth and the trio of friends bravely save the day. While a joy for all readers, Hilo is most appropriate for children grades 2-5.


  • Summary: In El Deafo (Newbery Honor Book (2015) Ms. Bell describes with grace and humor how difficult it was growing up with hearing loss. We better understand the communication hurdles Cece faced; how Cece’s hearing impairment set her apart from her classmates and friends; and how to more effectively interact with the deaf and hearing impaired. El Deafo follows Bell as she finds her inner strength and creativity to navigate in a hearing world and her often-problematic communication issues. El Deafo is most appropriate for children grades 2-5. Click "Download" for lesson suggestions.

    El Deafo

  • Summary: In El Deafo (Newbery Honor Book (2015) Ms. Bell describes with grace and humor how difficult it was growing up with hearing loss. We better understand the communication hurdles Cece faced; how Cece’s hearing impairment set her apart from her classmates and friends; and how to more effectively interact with the deaf and hearing impaired. El Deafo follows Bell as she finds her inner strength and creativity to navigate in a hearing world and her often-problematic communication issues. El Deafo is most appropriate for children grades 2-5. Click "Download" for lesson suggestions.

    El Deafo

  • The Faithful Spy: A true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

    “The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.” Letters and Papers from Prison (1967; 1997)


    In The Faithful Spy, John Hendrix discusses Hitler’s rise to power (through auspicious timing, fear, and intimidation) and how Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German patriot and Lutheran pastor grows increasingly uncomfortable with Hitler's agenda of genocide and hatred. It is the story of his trip to the United States where he met a fellow theologian who introduced him to Dr. Clayton Powell and his Abyssinian Church in Harlem, NY where Powell preached the Gospel of Social Justice, raised Bonhoeffer’s awareness of social injustices and the ineptitude of the church to bring about integration. It is a story of Bonhoeffer's eventually finds his own (dangerous) way to integrate his faith and ethics with his love of Germany and humanity at large. It is how Bonhoeffer eventually came to believe that Hitler had to be stopped and was willing to sacrifice everything to do so.

    In The Faithful Spy, Hendrix weaves an inventive and highly effective mix of prose and images, maps, and statistics, as well as more standard graphic novel panels - all told in either red (depicting Hitler's story) or blue (depicting Bonhoeffer's story), to explain Hitler’s rise to power and his military strategies – and Bonhoeffer’s inner struggles and eventual role in the plot to kill Hitler. Each page is uniquely designed graphically, grabbing out attention at each glance while being chock-full of facts, constantly engaging the reader in Bonhoeffer's internal struggle and then later in his work to stop Hitler.

    It is an outstanding work of art and literature and well worth the read in or out of a classroom (for ages 10+).

    For a much more detailed summary, please visit my blog “The Faithful Spy: A True Story!”

    In short: John Hendrix does a wonderful job of explaining Hitler’s rise to power – how and why he was so successful. And while it is the story of World War II, it is more a story of conflict within Dietrich Bonhoeffer who must decide whether to act as a German patriot, supporting his beloved country (regardless of its leader), or hold true to his faith and ethics and stop Hitler at all costs to himself and his family. It is a story of war, of faith, of addressing and resolving inner conflict, and of finding and learning how to see the truth in front of us.

    Throughout The Faithful Spy, Hendrix relays:

    • The importance of perspective and of considering diverse points of view;

    • The effects of racism and hatred and how two different cultures in the 1930’s

      and 40’s dealt with them (Germany and Hitler’s hatred and planned extermination of Jews, Gays, and Gypsies; and racism experienced in Black Harlem and the deep South of the United States);

    • The challenges of inner struggles and conflict;

    • The development of local and of national leaders and understanding how

      their power was found and used;

    • The struggle in understanding how to use and balance civic and ethical

      responsibilities in times of war;

    • The power of friendship and how unexpected friendships can sometimes

      have profound influence on us.




    Cultural Diversity, Civic Responsibilities, and Relaying Facts and “news”

    • On pages 14-17 Hendrix provides background information noting that, “To understand Dietrich’s place in the war against Hitler and the Nazi party, waged twenty year later, the story of Germany following World War I must be told first.”

    o Discuss why this background is so important to the story (making sure that one of the reasons is that it explains how a man like Hitler was able to rise to power as World War I and the Treaty of Versailles marked the end of German’s monarchy, with total defeat and loss of hope, and a crushed economy due to harsh sanctions).

    o Discuss how Hendrix uses text, image, headlines and statistics to relay the information. Discuss what works well and why. Discuss what does not work as well and why.

    o Discuss HOW Hendrix provides this background – making sure to note that he relays the Allie’s and German’s side of the war and its aftermath.

    • As a side exercise, discuss HOW one might provide a balanced explanation and relaying of facts relating to a pick a modern problem your students are aware of .

    • Have them then work in groups to collect and relay the “facts” relating to this problem making sure to present a balanced explanation.

    o Discuss how important this background information is in understanding ‘sides of an argument’ – both historical and personal. Make sure to discuss that this information

    • On pages 48-49, Bohoeffer lectures on the radio arguing that, “The true power of a leader comes from his willingness to serve the people... “ With your students, create class definition of “Leader” and of “Civic leadership.”

    • Define and discuss “racism”

    • Compare and contrast racism in the United States (during the 1930’s and

      beyond) to that of Racism found in German.

    o Analyze how the Germans and Americans dealt with racism. What was

    the same? What was different? How and why?
    o Instigating German anti-Semitism, Hitler wrote in his book, Mein

    Kampf (as seen on page 18), “I had at last come to the conclusion that the Jew was no German....the personification of the Devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.” Hendrix notes that what was so interesting about Hilter’s approach was that, “Playing on the nation’s Christianity, Hitler didn’t frame this struggle as political... but spiritual!” Discuss what this means and then compare Hitler’s racism to the racism seen in America at the same time. How was is similar/different?

    o On pages 32-33 on Dietrich’s trip to the deep South Hendrix notes, “[Dietrich] couldn’t believe what the nation had done to people like Frank. He wrote to his mother...trying to process what he was seeing: ‘The way the Southerners talk about the [Blacks] is repugnant... and the pastors are no better than the others!” But there was something Oddly familiar bout what he was seeing. It reminded him of the rhetoric of... Adolf Hitler...”

    • Discuss how hurtful racism can be – to those targeted as well as to the general population.

    • Discuss racism today – in the U.S. and abroad. How has it changed? How has it not changed? How have peoples’ responses to racism changed/not changed?


    Critical Reading and Thinking

    • Have students continue the discussion Dietrich has with Jean Lassarre (pages 34-37):

    o Are there ever good reasons to fight in a war? If so, what might that reason/reasons be?

    o Are there ever good reasons NOT to fight in a war? If so, what might that reason/reasons be?

    o Does one have a duty to God? If so, what is it?
    o Does one have a duty to Country? If so, what is it?
    o Is there such a thing as “A Good War?”

    • Discuss Lassarre’s comment (p. 36) “Dietrich, the Church must be independent from the State! It is called to be an agent of morality fighting for radical peace. It is not as a wing of the army.”


    • In 1933 Dietrich noticed that, “the German church itself was also buckling” to Nazi/Hitler dictates (p. 51): “Soon enough they even began baptizing babies to Hitler instead of God! Some pastors would even end their services not with the Christian Doxology, but with Hitler’s official salute,... Heil Hitler!” In response, Dietrich published a public paper, “The Church and the Jewish Question” for those who might want to oppose Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy – coming up with three pieces of advice: 1. Question the state and its methods – a true church must protect itself and reject government encroachment on its beliefs; 2. Aid the victims of State action – the church as an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society.; and 3. Strike back. It’s not enough just to bandage the victims under the wheel – but to put a poke ithe wheel itself.”

    o What does the metaphor in #3 mean?
    o Discuss these there suggestions – do you agree/disagree? Might there

    be alternatives? Might there be exemptions?

    • Discuss with students what Dr. Clayton Powell meant when he preached

      (page 31), “Obeying God means challenging injustice! You don’t just think about God. ... You act!” Discuss how obeying God means challenging others and acting. When does one decide to challenge; what might they challenge; and how might they effectively challenge injustices.

    • Discuss page 53 where Hendrix notes that Dietrich realized, “a real faith demanded action or it was no faith at all and that a church unwilling to stand up for suffering Jews would eventually stand for nothing."

    • On page 58, Bonhoeffer notes that, “To delay or fail to make decisions may be more sinful than to make wrong decisions out of faith and love.” Discuss what he means by this and when you think analyzing when this might hold true and when it may not.

    • On page 78 after Kirstallnacht “ The Night of the Broken Glass” Bonhoeffer ontes, “If the Church in thin moment, did NOT EXIST TO PROTECT THE OTHER HURCHES, it had no right to be called THE CHURCH at all.” Comment and discuss.

    • Given Bonheoffer’s beliefs and background, what would you have done under the same circumstances. Would you have put your life and the life of your family in jeopardy to save the country you loved from Hitler?



    Language, Literature, and Language Usage

    • This book is full of rich metaphor and word play. Metaphors with rats, wolves, David and Golaith and more. Have your students search for these metaphors and then discuss them. Below is one example you may want to use to introduce this activity. There are many more. Also note that the metaphors in this book are both visual and verbal. You may want to discuss them together or separate the visual from the verbal – using the visual metaphors for discussions of visual literacy and visual communication (more on this in the next section).

    o On page 25, “...But for a country like Germany, still reeling from the financial terms of the Treaty of Versaiiles, it was a disaster. Hitler was delighted. This crack in Germany’s economic foundation was just big enough to let his rats into the cellar.”

    • On page 37, “His year in America had given Dietrich a new foundation. His theology had been transformed from thought to action. The creation of something called “CIVIL COURAGE.” Discuss this term what it means to you, what it meant to him.

    • On page 69, Hendrix includes a powerful poem written by Bonhoeffer’s fellow pastor and co- founder of their Pator’s Emergency League. Read it together and discuss the language as well as the intent:

    o Who is Niemoller’s audience?
    o What is he saying in the poem? o What is it’s underlying message? o What makes it so powerful?


    Modes of Storytelling and Visual Literacy

    In graphic novels, images are used to relay content, emotions, metaphor, essential facts and more, with and without accompanying text, adding additional dimension to the story. Compare and contrast the authors’ use of verbal versus visual imagery. Discuss with students how images can be used to relay complex messages. For example:

    This book is all about individual incidents of racism and discrimination. Have students hunt for visual and verbal examples, comparing how they are relayed through language and how they are relayed through image. Discuss the impact of these various forms of communication.

    • As noted above, Hendrix tells the story in two basic colors: Rad and Blue, with some white and black. You may want to ask students when and why he uses the red and blue – allowing them to recognize that Red represents Hilter and his story, and Blue to represent Bonhoeffers. Discuss:

    o How effective this is in the story telling?

    o Why does he use red for Hitler and Blue for Bonheoffer? What do these colors tell us about these men?

    o Chart when he does each and discuss why this might be.

    o Evaluate how effective this is.


    • Also, as noted above, this book is a hybrid of traditional prose, images andgraphic novel panels and images. As a result, Hendrix relays a great deal of information – facts, maps, statistics, poems, giant powerful images, etc. and each is designed differently. How does this affect the storytelling? How does it affect the reading experience?


    • Have students search for their favorite images and discuss what about the image makes it so compelling. You may want to start this discussion/activity with one of your own favorite images. Here are two of mine you might want to use (or use your own):

    o Have students search for their favorite images and discuss what about the image makes it so compelling. You may want to start this discussion/activity with one of your own favorite images. Here is one you might want to use (or use your own):

    • Page 60, we see a feral wolf, breaking its collar, there are Nazi soldiers struggling in its mouth with sharp teeth. The wolf’s eyes are blank white. The text reads: “The effect of this brazen massacre [The Night of Long Knives – where Hilter killed politicians, writers, soldiers, to centralize his powers] was instantaneous. A ghastly chill fell over the country. Hitler, the feral wolf was casting off the collar of domestication. It was evident he was capable of anything... even eating his own young. [NOTE you may chose to just discuss the image and/or use the text along with it.]

    o Pages 78-79, we see an image of a Nazi giant wearing armor versus Bonhoeffer – who is much smaller. Bonhoeffer has a slingshot in his hand with the text, “Goliath has returned.” Discuss the image, it’s biblical reference, its intent here , and its effectiveness in telling this part of the story.

    Points of Departure for Further Research

    As this is a work of nonfiction, there are many historical references made to people, places and events that are integral to understanding this moment in time and to understanding Bonheoffer and the enormity of his challenges, decisions, and actions. Here are a few you may want to have your students look into in further detail.

    • Treaty of Versailles

    • Mein Kampf

    • Dr. Clayton Powell and the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York

    • The Aryan Paragraph (p. 45)

    • Kristallnacht – The Night of the Broken Glass

    • The Night of the Long Knives

    • The 1936 Olympics – who came, who didn’t, public response, Hitler’s political


    • Bonhoeffer’s fellow conspirators.


    Suggested Reading Pairings

    • March (Book One of three) (August, 2013) (a graphic novel) by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell V. This first volume spans Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement and their battle against segregation. NOTE: This book has an awesome teacher’s guide too.

    • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series – while considered historical fiction (as Hale adds fictional characters to add levity while telling a story from history) this series also does a wonderful job of relaying what are often complicated facts to complicated periods of history.

    Common Core State Standards:

    This book of assimilation and racial tolerance is full of advanced vocabulary, simile, slang, idioms, and cultural folklore. It promotes critical thinking, relates a hero and a coming of age story laden with issues of identity, justice and friendship, provides verbal and visual story telling that addresses multi-modal teaching, and meets Common Core State Standards including:

    Key ideas and details: Citing textual evidence, determining a theme or central idea, describing how a plot unfolds, analyzing how particular elements of the story interact; analyzing how particular lines of dialogue or incidents of a text reveal aspects of a character or provoke a decision; analyzing a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1, 6.2,6.3
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.1, 7.2, 7.3
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL8.1, 8.2, 8.3
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1, 9-10.2, 9-10.3

    Craft and structure: Determining the meaning of words and phrases including figurative and connotative meaning; analyzing how particular sentences, chapters, scenes or stanzas fit into the overall structure of a text; explaining how a point of view is developed; analyzing how a text’s structure or form contributes to its meaning; analyzing a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies; describing how a text presents information

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4, 6.5, 6.6
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.4, 7.5, 7.6
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL8.4, 8.5, 8.6
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL9-10.4, 9-10.5, 9-10.6

    Integration of knowledge and ideas: Comparing and contrasting texts; distinguishing among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text; analyzing how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works describing how the material is rendered new; analyzing how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific way..
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.9
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.9
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.9
    o CCSS.ELA-Litracy.RL.9-10.9

    Range of reading and level of text complexity: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8, and in the grades 8-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.10
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.10
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.10
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL9-10.10

    Knowledge of language: Using knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.3
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.3
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.3
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3

    Vocabulary acquisition and use: Determining the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases; demonstrating understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in world meanings; and acquiring and using accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases.

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.5
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.6
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.4
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.5
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.6
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.4
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.5
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.6
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4 o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5 o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6

    • Research to build and present knowledge: Drawing evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research;
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.9
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.9

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.9

    Comprehension and collaboration: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1

    Presentation of knowledge and ideas: Presenting claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes.
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.4

    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.4
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.4
    o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4



    This book and related discussions also cover the following themes identified by The National Council for the Social Studies:

    • Culture and Cultural Diversity - “...students need to comprehend multiple perspectives ... to consider the strengths and advantages that this diversity offers to the society in general and to their own growth...to analyze the ways that a people’s cultural ideas and actions influence its members...”

    • Time, Continuity, and Change - “...facilitate the understanding and appreciation of differences in historical perspectives and the recognition that interpretations are influenced by individual experiences, societal values, and cultural traditions... examine the relationship of the past to the present and extrapolating into the future... provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment...”

    • Individual Development and Identity – “...describe how family, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and other group and cultural influences contribute to the development of a sense of self...have learners compare and evaluate the impact of stereotyping, conformity, acts of altruism, discrimination, and other behaviors on individuals and groups...”

    • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions – “...help learners understand the concepts of role, status, and social class and use them in describing the connections and interactions of individuals, groups, and institutions in society... analyze groups and evaluate the influence of institutions, people, events, and cultures in both historical and contemporary settings...identify and analyze examples of tensions between expressions of individuality and efforts of groups and institutions to promote social conformity...”

    • Power, Authority, and Governance – “...understanding the historical development of structures of power, authority, and governance and their evolving functions in contemporary American society... enable learners to examine the rights and responsibilities of the individual in relation to their families, their social groups, their community, and their nation... examine issues involving the rights, roles, and status of individuals in relation to the general welfare...explain conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations...challenge learners to apply concepts such as power, role, status, justice, democratic values, and influence...”

    • Civic Ideals and Practices - “...assist learners in understanding the origins and continuing influence of key ideals of the democratic republican form of government, such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, and the rule of law...analyze and evaluate the influence of various forms of citizen action on public policy...evaluate the effectiveness of public opinion in influencing and shaping public policy development and decision-making...”


    • On Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

    o https://tdbi.org/dietrich-bonhoeffer/biography/ The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute – with a biography; photo gallery; bibliography of his works; his life and and teaching as a pastor; articles and recommended readings; Bonhoeffer's life as a pastor and theologian of great intellect and spirituality who lived as he preached—and his being killed because of his opposition to National Socialism—exerted great influence and inspiration for Christians across broad denominations and ideologies, such as Martin Luther King Jr., the anti-communist democratic movement in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.

    Bonhoeffer is commemorated in liturgical calendars of Christian denominations on the anniversary of his death, 9 April, where he is sometimes identified as a martyr In 2008. And later in 1958, the Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (German Evangelica Church) in Sydenham London, where Bonheoffer preached between 1933-35, and which was bombed in 1944, was rebuilt and named Dietrich-Bonhoeffer Kirche in his honor.
    Finally, Bonheoffer also leaves a great many literary works from which you may want to take excerpts for students to read, comment upon and evaluate.


    Here are a few suggestions to look into – there are many more:

    • Letters and Pages from Prison. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, volume 8. Dietrich Bonhoeffer; John W. De Gruchy, Editor; Translated by Isabel Best, Lisa E. Dahill, Reinhard DRauss, and Nancy Lukens. It is the first unabridged collection of Bonheofer’s 1943-45 prison letters and theological writings that include correspondence with his family as well as his theological notes and prison poems. [ISBN 978-0-8006-9703- 7.]

    • Conspiracy and Imprisonment 1940-1945 Dietrich Bonheoffer Works, volume 16. By Dietrich Bonheoffer; Mark Brocker, Editor. Translated by Lisa E. Dahill. It contains hundreds of letters, including letters to his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyr, as ell as official documents, short original pieces, and his final sermons. [ISBN 978-0-8006-8316-0]

    • A Testament to Freedom; The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1990). Geffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton Nelson, editors. Harper San Francisco 1995 2nd edition, paperback. [ISBN 0-06-064214-9]

      • On Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.: A brief history from Scholastic



    • On the Aryan paragraph:

    o https://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft Word - 5774.pdf – a

    brief description
    o On Bonhoeffer’s reaction to the Aryan Paragraph:



    • On Kristallnacht – Night of the Broken Glss:

    o https://www.history.com/topics/holocaust/kristallnacht - contains a

    brief description of Kristallnacht and its destruction (with images available in its gallery); background on Hitler and anti-semitism, U.S. Reaction to Kristallnacht; Jewish and non-Jewish reactions;

    o https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goebbels- kristallnacht/ from PBS – a description of Kristallnact and Hitler’s assault on the Jews

    o https://www.rferl.org/a/kristallnacht/29591897.html “Kristallnacht: Remembering the ‘Night of Broken Blass’

    http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/themes/civil- rights/exhibitions.html - multimedia resources from the Library of Congress that support the teaching about civil rights.

    The FaithFul Spy

  • Lumberjanes is on ongoing coming-of-age series about friendship and girl-power in the great outdoors. It is filled with humor, adventure where during summer camp, a lovably quirky diverse group of friends tackle wild, mystical mysteries using anagrams, astronomy, and Fibonacci series’ strategies, mixed in with brain power and pure brawn. Lumberjanes is a New York Times Bestseller; 2015 Eisner Award for Best Series; 2015 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens (13-17); 2015 Diamond Gem Awards for Best All-Ages Series and Best All-Ages Graphic Novel; Harvey Award Nominee for Best Letterer, for Best New Series, and for Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers; and is a nominee for GLAAD’s Outstanding Comic Book for 2016.


  • In March: Book One begins the trilogy of Representative John Lewis’s graphic novel memoir, co-written with his aide Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. It is a critically acclaimed best-seller that received the 2013 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award by the American Library Association and has been named one of the best books of 2013 by USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book, ComicsAlliance, and others.

    March: Book One

  • March: Book Two is the second volume of Representative John Lewis’s graphic novel memoir, cowritten with his aide Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. March: Book One was a critically acclaimed bestseller and received the 2013 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award from the American Library Association and was named one of the best books of 2013 by USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book, Comics Alliance, and others. Book Two promises equal success.

    March: Book Two

  • March: Book Three brilliantly and sensitively concludes Representative John Lewis’ story while documenting Americans’ struggle for equal rights and civil liberties. Through all three volumes of March, readers read, see, and feel those struggles first hand. Furthermore, while each part of the trilogy tells a continuing story, that they each can equally stand on their own as solid stories and historical resources. Alone and together, these three volumes relay the struggles, the pains, and the hopes of Black and White Americans in the early 1960s, while highlighting some of this country’s greatest modern heroes.

    March: Book Three

  • The Misadventures of Salem Hyde is a wonderful series about a strong-willed, spunky, impulsive young witch living in a non-witch community, who has a slight problem: Her spells tend to backfire. However, with the help of Whammy, her companion cat, she slowly deals with her “spelling” issues while boldly facing her nemesis Shelly and her teacher Mr. Fink (who “dislikes all kinds of kids but especially Salem”). The Misadventures of Salem Hyde received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, and was named one of the Top 10 graphic novels of 2013 by The School Library Journal. These books contain fun-filled adventures and wordplay that make them an awesome read for kids of all ages (even though it is geared for 7- to 10-year-olds)

    The Misadventures of Salem Hyde

  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales is an award-winning graphic novel series that showcases major events and individuals in history, primarily United States history. The series has won multiple awards including a 2012 Cybils Award Finalist; spots on the New York Public Library’s Children’s Books list in 2012 and 2013; 100 Books for Reading and Sharing list; YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list in 2013, 2014, and 2015; Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People in 2014; and an Eisner Award nomination 2014.

    Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

  • Nimona is an award winning graphic novel about a confident, occasionally snarky, and often inspiring shapeshifter named Nimona who ostensibly serves as supervilain Lord Ballister’s sidekick. Lord Ballister is a disfigured knight who must leave the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics (after losing his arm in a joust against Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and becomes the evil scientist. His only goal is to defame Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, his nemesis, and expose and destroy the underhanded and dastardly deeds of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. Readers, however, soon find out that nothing is as it seems, not even Nimona. Not even good versus evil. Even more fascinating (and engaging) is that the more we read about Nimona and the more we see her in action, the less we know or understand who or what exactly she is. All we know is that we are constantly rooting for her and can’t quite get enough.


  • Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a graphic novel adapted and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks from the young adult novel Voted Most Likely by Prudence Shen. It’s full of unlikely friendships and nicely nuanced characters who bend and shatter stereotypes and expectations. 

    Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

  • The Silence of Our Friends is a semi-autobiographical story told from the perspective of Mark Long, as a boy. It centers around civil rights incidents covered by his father, a television reporter in Houston, Texas, in 1968, following the Texas Southern University student boycott after the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was banned from campus. It ends with Dr. King’s assassination and the mourning of the larger Houston community as they marched in his memory that following Sunday.

    The Silence of Our Friends

  • So begins the adventures of the amoeba Squish and his friends, Pod and Peggy (an amoeba and a paramecium) in their microscopic world of Small Pond. In this column, we take a closer look at Squish, written by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, (Random House), providing teaching suggestions for the first four books in the series.


  • Smile is an empowering, heart-warming story about a typical teenager who feels out of place with her changing body, skin, and teeth, and whose only wish is to be a “normal” teen. What readers realize is that as Raina deals with accident traumas and earthquakes, navigates friendships with her childhood girl friends, and learns how to deal with boys in middle and high school, most of us have some kind of issue we must deal with in adolescence. As such, the book speaks honestly and humorously to us all. From beginning to end, Smile shows us how to gracefully embrace life’s twists and be more sensitive to others who are doing the same.


  • Soupy Leaves Home is a graphic novel written by Cecil Castellucci and illustrated by Jose Pimienta. Set in the early 1930’s at the heart of the Great Depression, this is a story about two hoboes: one young named “Soupy”, and one much older named “Ramshackle”. Together they journey south and then “Westward” while healing their hearts, facing their respective demons, and evaluating their paths and dreams.

    Soupy Leaves Home

  • The two comics, Karski’s Mission: To Stop the Holocaust by Rafael Medoff and Dean Motter , and The Book Hitler Didn’t Want You to Read: The True Story as Related by Senator Alan Cranston by Rafael Medoff and Dean Motter are both published by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies (2015). The graphic novel is Lily Renee, Escape Artist written by Trina Robbins and Illustrated by Anne Timmons and Mo Oh (Lener Publishing Group, 2011)

    Teach the Holocaust in Middle Grades

  • Trickster is the first graphic anthology with twenty-one Native American tales from across the continent. In Native American traditions, the trickster takes many forms and the diversity of the trickster’s form and talents are clearly reflected in this anthology. Whether a coyote, rabbit, raccoon, raven, beaver, fox, or man, he is always a crafty creature who disrupts, humiliates, or betters himself or those around him. In this anthology, Dembicki has paired storytellers and artists, and he has illustrated one of the stories as well. The stories come from all over the United States. The range of locations adds to the range and depth of the selected stories. It Trickster is the recipient of the 2010 Maverick Award, the 2011 Aesop Prize for Children’s folklore, and a 2011 Eisner Award Nominee.

    Trickster: Native American Tales a Graphic Collection

  • Told in warm prose and exquisite monochromatic blue images, This One Summer delicately balances the nostalgic power of summer traditions with the often harsh and intruding lessons of life. It embraces readers of all ages as two tween girls, local townie teens, and one set of parents all tangle in the delicate balances of friendships and relationships, grapple with the pains of growing up, deal with the torments of depression and of wanted and unwanted pregnancies, and cope with the heartbreaks and hopes of life. This One Summer has received outstanding praise and unprecedented honors for its stunning art and thoughtful, sensitive content.

    This One Summer

It's all about parenting, literacy, creativity, and having fun with your kids while making life and learning more meaningful.