Graphic Novel Text Sets and Social Justice Inquiry Projects

Erik Jacobson is author of a new short piece in The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy titled “Graphic Novel Text Sets and Social Justice Inquiry Projects.” From the text:

Screen Shot 2020-07-18 at 10.55.23 PM 2“In this column, I suggest…following the students’ lead and helping them work with graphic novels addressing social justice issues that students are passionate about. Rather than beginning with an arbitrarily selected graphic novel, teachers should select texts that extend and expand the types of conversations they may already be having with students. Here, I begin by reviewing how graphic novels can be used as a teaching tool, and then focus on how adult students can use them as part of their own self-directed learning projects. I also suggest ways that text sets, rather than individual novels, can be especially beneficial when taking on complicated issues. I present a suggested text set about racism in the United States and conclude with implications for adult literacy teachers.”

The sample text set focuses on combatting white supremacist ideology and there are also suggestions for readings promoting anti-militarism.


Bagge, P. (2017). Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston story. Montreal, QC, Canada: Drawn & Quarterly.

Baker, K. (2008). Nat Turner. New York, NY: Abrams.

Bui, T. (2018). The best we could do. New York, NY: Abrams.

Guibert, E. (2009). The photographer: Into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders (A. Siegel, Trans.). New York, NY: First Second.

Hosler, J. (2011). Evolution: The story of life on Earth. New York, NY: Hill and Wang.

Korgen, J.O., & Pyle, K.C. (2017). Migrant: Stories of hope and resistance/Migrante: Historia de esperanza y resistencia. Juarez, Mexico: Hope Border Institute.

Lewis, J., & Aydin, A. (2013). March: Book one. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf.

Lewis, J., & Aydin, A. (2015). March: Book two. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf.

Lewis, J., & Aydin, A. (2016). March: Book three. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf.

Nakazawa, K. (1987). Barefoot Gen: Vol. 1. A cartoon story of Hiroshima (Project Gen, Trans.). Philadelphia, PA: New Society.

Sacco, J. (2001). Palestine. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics.

Spiegelman, A. (1991). Maus: A survivor’s tale: Vol. 1. My father bleeds history. New York, NY: Pantheon.

Walker, D.F. (2018). The life of Frederick Douglass: A graphic narrative of a slave’s journey from bondage to freedom. New York, NY: Ten Speed.

Yoe, C. (Ed.). (2018). The unknown anti-war comics. San Diego, CA: IDW.

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