Archive for Excellence in Graphic Literature

Pop Culture Classroom and KidLit TV Team Up to Unveil Finalists for Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards 2018!

Friends, mark your calendars and be sure to visit and bookmark so you know exactly where to go on the big day!

PCC and KidLit TV Team Up to Announced the EGL 2018 Finalists!We’re excited to announce that Pop Culture Classroom has partnered with children’s literature authority and content streaming site KidLit TV, granting KidLit TV the rights to stream Excellence in Graphics Literature (EGL) Awards announcements leading up to the awards ceremonies at Denver Comic Con 2018.

Announcing the 2018 Finalists

The first of these streams will occur at approximately 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 15 from the KidLit TV studios in New York City, hosted by Rocco Staino and Carol Fitzgerald of The Book Report Network.

During the event, Judging Committees Chairs for each of the EGL Award categories will present their finalist picks, reporting from libraries and bookstores in California, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Illinois and New York City.

To view the stream, visit at the date and time listed above and it should play directly in your browser (internet connection required). You can visit the page now to learn more and even set a reminder to have the site alert you when the event is about to start.

If your schedule won’t allow you to watch the event live, not to worry. You’ll be able to visit the same page after the event concludes to watch it at any time on-demand.

2018 Award Categories

We’ve made a few changes to the award categories since our last official press release, so here’s an up-to-date list for reference.

One particularly important addition is the Mosaic Award, which you can read about in detail in our blog post HERE.

  • Best in Children’s Books
  • Best in Middle Grade Books
  • Best in Young Books
  • Best in Adult Books
  • Mosaic Award
  • Book of the Year

Awards Ceremony at Denver Comic Con 2018

The inaugural year of the Excellence in Graphic Literature program will culminate in an awards ceremony at this year’s Denver Comic Con.

Finalists, award winners, luminaries and leaders from the publishing industry will be invited to the ceremonies scheduled for the evening of Saturday, June 16.  The event will also be open to attendees.

Denver Comic Con will have an even greater emphasis on literature, graphic novels and publishing this year, with more than 100 author and publisher guests scheduled to attend. You can view a complete list of guests announced to-date at

About the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards 

The Excellence in Graphics Literature program was begun by Pop Culture Classroom to help create a greater awareness of the value the comics medium and the graphic novel format brings the world of reading.

With these awards the intent is to grow legitimacy and respect for the graphic novel format, the comics medium and its creators, and drive growth for the graphic novel publishing category.

Learn more at

About KidLit TV 

KidLit TV (KLTV) is a winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, the Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy, and one of the American Library Association’s Great Websites For Kids.

KLTV is available in over 600,000 schools worldwide via our website and video distribution partners. We’re a diverse group of parents, educators, librarians, kid lit creators, and award-winning filmmakers, working together to create fun new ways to reinforce an appreciation of reading that children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Learn and see more at KidLit TV

For Next Time…

We can’t wait to unveil the Excellence in Graphic Literature Award finalists for our inaugural year and hope you can join us for the stream.

As always, if you have more questions or would like to suggest a topic for us to cover, feel free to write them in the comments below, post them on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages, or send them to

Future posts will continue to provide more updates on the awards process, plus guidance and resources to help make your exploration into the world of graphic literature (in, and out, of the classroom) the best it can be.

Be Well, Read More!

A Newbie’s Guide to Teaching Comics

Guest Post by John C. Weaver, Williamsport Area High School

So, you’ve decided to bring graphic novels in the classroom, have you? Excellent! You’ll find it immensely gratifying, and your students will love it. Comics and graphic novels immediately engage both high and low end readers. But, now that you’re committed to teaching with this medium, how do you start? 

Picking Your First Books

Perhaps you have already chosen a comic to bring into the classroom, but if you haven’t quite reached that point, your first step is to select a book.

Would you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Perhaps you’d like to start with a graphic adaptation of classic books (there are many of them).

An excellent resource for teachers new to the medium is There you will find plenty of book reviews; lesson plans sorted by elementary, middle school, and high school; and upcoming titles.

Although I’ve taught quite a few graphic novels (my classroom bookshelves are crammed with them), some of my (and my students’) recent favorites include Derf Backderf’s memoire My Friend Dahmer, which recounts Backderf’s high school acquaintance with future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer; and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which details her experiences as a child during the Iranian revolutions.

Before You Dive In

Once you’ve picked a text, the next thing I recommend you do is read Scott McCloud’s book Understanding Comics for your own benefit.

McCloud’s text is a comic book about the medium of comics, which will teach you both the theory and the practice of the form.

Order a class set of these for your classroom as well.

Ready, Set, Go

Your books have been chosen and ordered, so now you need to figure out how to introduce and begin to teach students the graphic novel.

What follows will not be a full unit plan (that’s a different, and vitally important, subject). Instead, this is a step-by-step guide to begin a unit on your comic.

Understand, this is what I do; feel free to adopt or ignore any of these steps, which also goes for the examples I include: use them as is or adapt them as you choose.

Step One (Duration: One or Two Days)

Take the temperature of the room.  Find out, whether through a bell ringer or a show of hands, what their experience with comics is—and newspaper funnies count.

Some students will have no experience at all, and others go to their local comic book shop every Wednesday. (For newbies out there, Wednesday is new comic book day.)

When you identify your comics fanboys and fangirls, RELY on them. They are your experts and will help the other students figure out how to read comics.

Once you have done this, you’ll need to show them how comics work. I suggest introducing the distinction between illustration and comics that Jimmy Gownley (writer and artist of the Amelia Rules series) has discussed in a teacher training that I attended.

Look at Figure 1 below.  (While the idea and the words are Gownley’s, the “art” is my own. Gownley is an actual artist!)

The EGL Blog | Where to Start | Illustration 1In the above examples, Gownley would call the one on the left an illustration, because the text and the art are very closely related, much as you would see in a children’s book.

The one on the right is a comic, according to Gownley, because the reader needs to connect text and art into a single idea that isn’t immediately apparent.

You can ask students to talk about the differences between the two examples. Having them discuss why the man is running for milk helps drive the differences home.

The last thing to do is to show a variety of short comic strips is among many websites that have free online strips, and ask students to discuss the connection between art and text. With the online comics, you can point out that they will read comics the way they read books: left to right.

Step Two (Duration: One Day)

Once students have become familiar with the form, you could consider the create-a-comic activity.

When I do it, I create three panels, each with a different piece of clip art.

In groups, students turn random pictures into a coherent story with some combination of additional art, captions, and speech/thought bubbles. They then share them with the class, which works really well.

My students make me proud with their imaginative responses. I’m sure yours will, also. Figure 2 shows the actual exercise I use.

The EGL Blog | Getting Started | Illustration 2

Step 3 (Duration: Two or Three Days)

Now that students are familiar with how text and art interact in comics, and they have done it themselves with the create-a-comic exercise, it is time to expose them to some comic book theory.

Bring out your class set of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and assign them to read Chapter Three. 

While you may wish to assign them the whole book—which would be lovely—for practical purposes, chapter three of Understanding Comics is very useful.

McCloud looks at the same phenomenon that Jimmy Gownley does, that reading comics requires understanding the juxtaposition of text and art, or art and art. McCloud refers to the concept of closure, which means we can look at a series comic book panels and understand what point the comic artist is making.

Using the idea of closure, McCloud examines the different types of transition of one panel to the next. The taxonomy he creates in chapter three will be useful for you and your students as you discuss the writer and artist’s purpose for setting up the panels as they do.

It would be a good idea to create a graphic organizer such as the one in Figure 3 to help focus your students during the reading.

The EGL Blog | Getting Started | Illustration 3

Step 4 (Duration: As Long as It Takes)

Once your students have both a practical and a theoretical understanding of comics, and all of you have a common vocabulary to discuss them, it is time to distribute the graphic novels and start assigning readings.

While teaching the text for the first time, you will need to rely on the students who read comics or manga regularly. They will be your greatest allies. However, keep in mind, English teachers can always discuss plot, character, setting, theme, and metaphor, just as with any book.

Comics simply add one more element—the interaction of art and text.  All of your students, both the high performing and the struggling students, will respond well to comics.

Have fun with it, and allow yourself to learn from your kids. I did, and I have never been more grateful for taking a risk with a group of teenagers. 


There are a number of teacher-generated resources for teaching with graphic novels, including Pop Culture Classroom.

Another great resource is Dr. Katie Monnin from the University of North Florida at Jacksonville. Her books, which can be purchased at are very useful, and filled with practical teaching strategies and reproducible handouts for classes.

Another useful source is Maureen Bakis, whose books can be purchased on Amazon at this link:

Introducing the EGL Mosaic Award

In our previous post we covered why we believe the time is right for the EGL Awards. In today’s post we begin our ongoing series that introduces each of the awards, and gives you more background on why and how we structured them as we have.

Why We Chose to Call It the “Mosaic Award” 

A mosaic is an arrangement of differently shaped and colored pieces, which creates a picture that has more depth and vibrancy than the sum of the separate parts.

Our communities — whether defined by location, or pop-culture tastes — are made up of individuals from different ethnicities, belief systems, gender, and sexual orientations. And therefore the books, comics and graphic novels they read should reflect the backgrounds of their readership.

In recent years, the entertainment industries — particularly in the areas of movies, TV and music — have made strides towards providing products that speak to this variety of populations, but the comics and graphic literature industries have lagged behind. This is not so much from a lack of desire to serve a diverse readership, but more due to their inability to understand what these readers want. Fortunately, that is beginning to change.

The Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards strives to bring together these variegated pieces to create that broader and deeper picture for publishers, educators and librarians — to create a mosaic. We hope that in turn the Mosaic Award will serve to illustrate what kinds of graphic literature their readers want, and which new works will appeal to those diverse communities.

Why This Award is So Important, Right Now 

You may wonder about this award’s focus and why it diverges from the fiction/non-fiction and age-group categories.

Works of graphic literature have been produced by women, creators of color, and members of the LGBTQ community for years. But, until there is a medium for spotlighting these creators and their works, their intended audiences might not ever know there is graphic literature that addresses their experiences, speaks to their needs and honors their concerns.

It is our hope that the Mosaic Award will encourage creators and their publishers to submit their works so that libraries and book stores will carry them and educators, parents and students may seek them out because of their common message as well as literary merit. 

The Mosaic Award Judging Panel and Process

We are confident that the Mosaic Award will maintain its integrity and accomplish the above missions, as the jurors who have volunteered for this EGL program come from a diverse cross-section of the publishing, library, educational, academic, retail and industry professions.

To help create this program, we purposefully reached out to find the best minds from the widest range of cultural backgrounds. They are: Asian American, African American, Native American, Hispanic American, Straight, LGBTQ, and come from every geographic region of the U.S.

It is our hope that eventually there will be no need for a Mosaic award, and each work will be judged solely on its literary value and artistic merit. However, until that day, we will continue to present the Mosaic Award to help break down the current barriers and amplify the voices of creators from the widest range of communities, so they are heard by the audiences that so desperately need them. 

For Next Time…

We hope this gave you a good introduction to the award, but as always if you have more questions or would like to suggest a topic for us to cover, feel free to write them in the comments below, post them on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages, or send them to

In our next post we’ll provide advice to the educators in our audience who may be interested in using graphic novels in their classrooms, but just don’t know how to start.

Be Well, Read More!

Why It’s the Perfect Time to Recognize and Celebrate Graphic Literature

When we came together to create the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards, the first question we asked was whether there was a need for such a thing; would it be different from all the other comics-industry awards? The answer is an unwavering yes.

Why We’re Doing This

We need to recognize the best in comics and graphic novels because there is nothing like the EGLs, whose purpose is to cast light on those works of graphic literature that the public should be reading – especially teachers and librarians, parents and their kids.

We may implicitly understand the education and communication value of graphic literature, but most people don’t. The time is now to help fully inform the public through the teams of publishing industry professionals who are currently submitting, scrutinizing and voting on the best of the best.

Why We Think Now is the Perfect Time

Readership tastes are constantly evolving, and the publishing industry has started to recognize this fact. As the previous generation of creators started increasing the length and broadening the topic of their stories, the current generation of student readers have come to expect a variety of books that reflects their culture and beliefs.

Both comics and book publishers have recognized this paradigm shift and are working to hire the hottest creators and publish the best books for this growing audience. Simultaneously, educators and librarians are eager to learn about the sheer scope of these offerings and feature the best of the best for their students and readers.

But the current review and ordering process is outdated, leaving these parties frustrated by the lack of accurate information about what readers want and what is available to fill their needs.

Through our year-long submission, judging and awards process, the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards will shine a spotlight on these superior works.

Our hope is the award will establish a recognizable high-water-mark of industry credibility and quality, helping publishers more quickly identify the best creators, help educators more confidently choose books they present to students, and help eager students discover their next great read.

Why We are Calling it “Graphic Literature”

Why not just “comic books” or “graphic novels”? While we are grateful that comics are finally getting their due as a legitimate art form having literary merit, the term “graphic novel” is in danger of becoming so overly-broad that it is misleading.

For example, while they are certainly graphic, seminal literary works such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Rep. John Lewis’ March, relate factual stories of profound historical significance and as such are anything but novels.

In addition, we want to give publishers and creators the ability to submit for peer review works that don’t neatly fall into the GN or comic book categories, such as illustrated works that may contain as many words as pictures.

The key is that these will be works of literary and educational merit, that children and adults can enjoy and benefit from, that parents and educators will be confident of their literary value, and that students will enjoy at the same time they are learning.

Each jury will consider fictional works, but unlike other awards programs, works of non-fiction will have their own category to raise public recognition and awareness in a way that helps educators justify their use in classrooms.

In addition, even more than 60 years after Dr. Frederick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, great works like Maus and March have not been able to diffuse the stigma of the term “comic book”.

Our goal, therefore, is not only to highlight the year’s best graphic works with the greatest educational and literary value, but also to help publishers and educators undo the damage of seven decades of “bad press”, by highlighting those creators and their works of the past year which have the most literary and educational merit.

For Next Time…

We hope this helped answer some of the questions you may have, but as always if you have more questions or would like to suggest a topic for us to cover, feel free to write them in the comments below, post them on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages, or send them to

Keep an eye out for our next posts coming in a few weeks. We’ll be introducing the major award categories, along with general topics regarding the awards and advice on how to get more involved with graphic literature both in and out of the classroom.

Be Well, Read More.

Introducing the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards

Comics and graphic novels are taking a leading role in driving the circulation of libraries, and students are reading them from pre-K through higher education, in every learning environment possible.

More today than ever before, readership and content accurately reflect society. Librarians everywhere are noticing how the size of their graphic literature collection directly affects the circulation of their entire collection. Pre-K through adult educators see that graphic novels engage students across the entire ability and interest spectrum.

It is time for the publishing industry to have its own Graphic Literature award.

Celebrating the Best in Fiction and Non-Fiction Graphic Novels

Responding to this need, Pop Culture Classroom and Denver Comic Con are excited to host the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards (EGL Awards).

The EGL Awards recognize the phenomenal expansion of graphic literature across multiple industries. The creators and content of graphic literature are more diverse and eclectic than ever, and the format is experiencing tremendous growth in the book market.

Our Advisers and Judges – The Most Respected in the Industry

Our Advisory Board and Juries are composed of diverse, experienced and informed professionals that span the publishing, library, and education industries. These team members will select the best in graphic literature through a clearly defined and transparent process.

Now Accepting Submissions

Even as comics and graphic novels have become big business in other media such as gaming and movies, mainstream and independent publishing still feeds that creative pipeline.

We are aware of this symbiosis, which is why we are accepting submissions for any-and-all works published during the calendar year of 2017, regardless of publisher size. Individuals, creative teams, editors, agents, and publishers are all welcome to submit their books for consideration.

A Trophy Like No Other

The physical EGL award should be just as treasured as the winning of the award itself. To achieve this, we have been working with world-renowned sculptors Colin and Kristine Poole to create a trophy that will be a treasured reminder of this achievement, along with an associated medallion that can be used for book promotion following the award ceremonies.

Brought to life through the uniquely interdependent combination of words and pictures, graphic literature is a distinct narrative art form. It’s an art form that deserves to be celebrated. It’s time for the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.

Award Categories

Awards will be given to the best in graphic literature for the following categories:

  • Children’s Fiction (Grade 5 & Under)
  • Children’s Nonfiction (Grade 5 & Under)
  • Middle Grade Fiction (Grades 6-8)
  • Middle Grade Nonfiction (Grades 6-8)
  • Young Adult Fiction (Grades 9-12)
  • Young Adult Nonfiction (Grades 9-12)
  • Adult Fiction
  • Adult Nonfiction
  • Mosaic Award –  This award recognizes the ever-growing number of talented storytellers and rich content that come from our diverse communities, ethnicities, nationalities, faiths, genders, and orientations. The Mosaic Award is open to titles that span any age range. Qualification for this category is determined by the person submitting a title.
  • Book of the Year– Winners of each of the above nine categories will be entered into competition for the Book of the Year. Book of the Year will represent the year’s very best in graphic literature.

For Next Time…

We hope this provided a solid introduction and overview of the awards program. We will be updating the website frequently, so check back often. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages. If you have more questions or would like to suggest a topic for us to cover, feel free to write them in the comments below, post them on our social channels, or send them to

In our next post we’ll explain why it’s so important right now to recognize and celebrate graphic literature excellence.

Be Well, Read More!