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Comics & Graphic Novels: Teaching Comics



On a November day in 1957 I found myself standing in front of Miss Grosier’s first grade class in Hillcrest Elementary School, trying to think of a really good word. She had us playing this game in which each kid had to offer up a word to the class, and for every classmate who couldn’t spell your word, you got a point—provided of course that you could spell the word. Whoever got the most points received the coveted gold star.


“Bouillabaisse,” I said, finally.


“You don’t even know what that is,” Miss Grosier scolded.


“It’s fish soup.”


“You can’t spell that.”


“Can too.”


“Come here. Write it,” She demanded.


I wrote it. She looked it up, and admitted that is was, indeed correct.


Easiest gold star I ever won. And right here, right now, I’d like to thank, albeit somewhat belatedly, whoever wrote the Donald Duck comic book in which I found the word bouillabaisse. Also, I’d like to thank my mother who read me that comic book and so many others when I was four and five…. I learned to read from those session long before I started school. While most of my classmates were struggling with See Spot Run, I was reading Superman. I knew what indestructible meant, could spell it, and would have cold-bloodedly used it to win another gold star if I hadn’t been banned from competition after bouillabaisse. 


Jim Shooter, as quoted in The Power of Reading by Stephen Krashen

Photo: Daniel Bönnighausen via Flickr


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