Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing uses children’s interest in pictures, comics and graphic novels as a way of developing their creative writing abilities, reading skills and oracy. The book’s underpinning strategy is the use of comic art images as a visual analogue to help children generate, organise and refine their ideas when writing and talking about text.

In reading comic books children are engaging with highly complex and structured narrative forms. Whether they realise it or not, their emergent visual literacy promotes thinking skills and develops wider metacognitive abilities. Using Comic Art not only motivates children to read more widely, but also enables them to enjoy a richer imagined world when reading comics, text based stories and their own written work.

The book sets out a range of practical techniques and activities which focus on various aspects of narrative, including:

  • using comic art as a visual organiser for planning writing
  • openings and endings
  • identifying with the reader, using different genres and developing characters
  • creating pace, drama, tension and anticipation
  • includes ‘Kapow!’ techniques to kick start lessons
  • an afterword on the learning value of comics.

The activities in Using Comic Art start from this baseline of confident and competent comic-book readers, and show how skills they already possess can be transferred to a range of writing tasks. For instance, the way the panels on a comic’s page are arranged can serve as a template for organising paragraphs in a written story or a piece of non-fiction writing. The visual conventions of a graphic novel – the shape of speech bubbles or the way the reader’s attention is directed – can inform children in the use of written dialogue and the inclusion of vivid and relevant details.

A creative and essential resource for every primary classroom, Using Comic Art is ideal for primary and secondary school teachers and TAs, as well as primary PGCE students and BEd, BA Primary Undergraduates.

chapter 1|7 pages

Strong openings

chapter 2|9 pages

Opening lines

chapter 3|10 pages

What do you want the reader to see?

chapter 4|6 pages

Details add to the tension

chapter 5|14 pages

Jump into the action

chapter 6|10 pages

Small, important details

chapter 7|13 pages

Drawing as visual shorthand

chapter 8|4 pages


chapter 9|14 pages

Strong endings

chapter 10|7 pages

Creating quick characters

chapter 11|11 pages

Don’t take that tone with me!

chapter 12|8 pages

Heroes and villains

chapter 13|7 pages

Controlling pace

chapter 14|17 pages

Build up the drama

chapter 15|5 pages


chapter 16|15 pages


chapter 18|9 pages

Kapow! techniques and non-fiction writing

chapter 19|4 pages

A note on rough layouts

chapter 20|2 pages

Afterword – the learning value of comics