Reading graphic novels made me think about how powerful a teaching tool these readings are. In particular, as I read nonfiction graphic novels, I soon realized, how much these books pushed me to learn more and more about the historical dynamics that certain countries faced. Nonfiction graphic novels are incredible tools that teach history and, in my opinion, should be used more often as teaching material also in schools. Thanks to the illustrations the representation of events is immediate, making learning more fluid and simple.
In this article, I would like to introduce you to some graphic novels that I think are great teaching tools.
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Graphic Novels That Teach History
1. The Life of Frederick Douglass
The first graphic novel of this list is “The Life of Frederick Douglass,” a book about slavery and civil rights. This graphic novel tells the story of Frederick Douglass, tracing important stages of his life. From his childhood, forced to separate from his grandmother because owned by a landowner in Maryland, to the years spent as a slave working hard in the fields, where secretly, he started learning to read and write. It is thanks to these skills that he manages to escape and free himself from his state of slavery. He will become a point of reference in the American anti-slavery battle, fighting for equal civil rights for African-Americans.
2. March: The Trilogy
Staying on the subject of civil rights but moving into the twentieth century it is worth reading March: The Trilogy. The trilogy covers the life of John Lewis from his childhood until 1965. The story jumps around in time to describe key events that shaped the civil rights movement and the fight to stop legalized racial segregation in the United States. Also common to the three books are some scenes from January 20, 2009, the day of Barack Obama’s first inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. Read more about “March: The Trilogy” here.
3. It was the war of the Trenches
Staying in the twentieth century “It was the war of the trenches” by Jacques Tardi. dThis graphic novel wants to immerse the reader during the years of the great war showing how crazy and horrible it was. The great war is represented by a collection of stories with soldiers in the trenches as protagonists. Soldiers who wanted nothing more than to survive and return to their families. A graphic novel that should be read by high school students who are studying early twentieth-century history.
From the Great War to World War II is Maus. This graphic novel by Art Spiegelman is a must-read. Maus is also on my other lists, such as the best award-winning books list or the best books of all-time list. Maus should be read by every teenager to delve into how the political dynamics were negatively affecting those years. The representation of the characters in different animal species makes their association with the different nationalities immediate, making the reading and involvement with the story more fluid. If you want to know more about Maus, read my review
5. They called US enemy
Another graphic novel always related to World War II is “They called US enemy” by George Takei (Author), Justin Eisinger (Author), Steven Scott (Author), Harmony Becker (Illustrator). This graphic novel analyzes the Second World War from another point of view, that of the Japanese population in the United States. The graphic novel is a biography based on Takei’s childhood, imprisoned in American concentration camps during World War II. Japanese people who, during the 30s and 40s, had become an integral part of the American social life, are suddenly considered enemies and forced to live in isolation in camps surrounded by barbed wire.
6. Joe Sacco’s graphic novels
Jumping towards the end of the twentieth century, there are several titles that I recommend because they teach history. Certainly, Joe Sacco’s graphic novels are must-read history graphic novels. From Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza, Safe Area Goražde, to his latest graphic novel Paying the Land, they are all journalistic graphic novels that describe dynamics and situations experienced by Joe Sacco during his time in those places. To read more about Palestine, click here.
Conclusion |Graphic Novels That Teach History
These are just a few titles but the list is constantly being updated. If you’ve read any graphic novels that you think would fit on this list, write it in the comments! Be a part of this blog by sharing culture!
Enjoy your reading