French Publishers: A Second Round of ‘Comics in the Classroom’

In News by Porter Anderson

The French publishers’ association, SNE, is rolling out its second round of ‘Comics in the Classroom’ to promote learning and reading skills.

Image: SNE

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘For Avenues of Reading and Reflection’
With a title like “Bubbles of Nature,” the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE-France) today (March 23) has announced a second round of the “Comics in the Classroom” program, designed “to deepen a theme through a collection of comic strips.”

The initiative—nicely timed, as Italy’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair goes through its paces this week—provides this message to the news media, something certainly not heard in all the international markets of publishing: “Comics are now one of the major literary genres in France and around the world.”

For years, France has been moving ahead of many of her sister cultures in acceptance and interest levels for comics and graphic novels.

“Comics have their place in the classroom,” the publishers’ statement reads. “Popular with young readers when they have access to them, recognized by book professionals for the benefits for the benefits they bring, the comic form still has only a modest place in the school world.”

Pages from the student activities section of the ‘Comics in the Classroom’ curriculum. Image: SNE

So it is that the SNE’s comic book group has worked with Moïse Kissous (of the Steinkis Groupe) in the lead, to create 2020’s first iteration of the “Comics in the Classroom” project in 2020.

Initially, the focus, we’re told, was “the theme of monsters—as in dangers to the ecology and what’s needed for sustainable development.”

The project rolled out as “La BD en Classe” or “When Comics Come to the Classroom.” As many of our readers know, “BD” stands for bandes dessinées, the French term for comics.

The French publishers’ messaging goes on to develop its rationale, saying, “Because comics can play a major role in the artistic and cultural in the artistic and cultural education of children and are an educational medium in their own right, the
comic book group of the SNE launched ‘Comics in the Classroom,’ bringing together a teacher’s guide and a student’s notebook designed for all professionals working in the school environment.”

Those professionals, SNE says, include educators, chaperones, librarians and teachers.

The program is structured around small groups of three students each and supplies educational resources and excerpts from French and Belgian work, international comics, manga and more, “to articulate the pleasure of reading with the discovery of graphic literary works.”

These curriculum pieces, the SNE says, were created by book and media pros.

  • And the new edition includes:
  • A 52-page educational guidebook
  • A 116-page students’ notebook A them
  • Extracts from 17 comic books

The program is constructed, according to the SNE to promote “avenues for reading and reflection, keys to analyzing the codes of comics, the drawing of emotions, an insight into the literary genres present in comics (anticipation, science fiction), various activities such as creative workshops, team projects, and workshop debates are offered to teachers and students, so they can use comics as a support for image education, scientific education, and discussions on ethical and civic issues, such as sustainable development or acceptance and tolerance.”

You can download the student handbook to have a look at how the material is presented. It’s in PDF here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the French market is here, more on book fairs is here, more on comics and graphic novels is here, and more on the SNE is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.