Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares

Students examine graphic novels and comic books and discuss  the important components of the genre, such as captions, dialogue, and images. They then use an online tool to create a six-panel comic highlighting six key scenes in a book they have read. By creating comic strips or cartoon squares featuring characters in books, students are encouraged to think analytically about the characters, events, and themes they've explored in ways that expand their critical thinking by focusing on crystallizing the significant points of the book in a few short scenes. Comic strips are universally appealing; they use symbolism and encourage students to interpret as they think critically. This lesson fulfills differentiated instruction goals.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • identify appropriate landscapes, characters, and props that relate to the events and characters in the books they've read.
  • interact with classmates to give and receive feedback.
  • explore how audience, purpose, and medium shape their writing.


Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 

Helpful Hints


  • Before this lesson, students will read a book independently, in literature circles, or as a whole class. 
  • Ask students to bring copies of the book that will be the focus of their comic strips to class for reference. 
  • Make copies or overheads of the planning sheet and the rubric. 
  • Practice the steps for using the Comic Creator with your computers. 
  • Visit the Website of Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics, for background on the genre, inspirations, and sample comics. Additional information can also be found at  Integrative Art: American Comic Strips from Pennsylvania State University.


Materials and Technology:

  • Graphic novels and comic book versions of well-known books for inspiration and comparison (optional)



  • Comic Strip Planning Sheet 
  • Comic Strip Rubric



  • Integrative Art: American Comic Strips
  • Scott McCloud