Like so many others who attended the CCIRA (Colorado Council of International Reading Association), Illya Kowalchuk simply wants to change the way literature is taught to kids for the better and get kids excited about learning the literature being taught. As a teacher himself, he is taking a unique approach at this goal. In a speech, he gave a compelling case for why comics should be given a chance in all classroom settings.
Rather than forcing the hard pieces of reading and writing at kids, he really tries to connect with kids, and make it fun for them. He’s been doing that through comics and pop culture in his own nonprofit classroom organization, Pop Culture Classroom, made up of teachers, artists, and students.
He works in league with Mile High Comics and Comic Con to promote his cause and get the word out to teachers. Most teachers are a little timid to bring in this style of teacher because it’s so different, but Kowalchuk says that by taking the risk, the kids get huge benefits, especially those who aren’t as keen to write the big essay or read the long book.
The whole idea behind using comics is that kids with all different reading levels will take something different away from the experience, whether it’s seeing a new side of culture, comprehending literature, understanding the elements of a story, seeing real-world issues, understanding themes, getting a history lesson, or inspiring change in the world.
“There’s just a power about comics that connects to everybody,” says Kowalchuk. He goes on to explain the logistics of comics in a classroom and the importance they can bring to learners. Even if you don’t love comics by nature, you should give them a shot and just see where they take you. Some of his recommendations are “Maus,” “Yummy,” and “Smile.”