The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP)
led by Founding Director, Lucy Calkins introduces a new unit for
Writing Graphic Novels—and
​TOON is thrilled to be a part of it!


Lucy Calkins, Founding Director of TCRWP with Françoise Mouly, Founder & Editorial Director of TOON Books

It's quite literally a dream come true when your mission as a publisher is to advance the comics genre for kids, and then you get the call from Lucy Calkins of the renowned Teachers College Reading & Writing Project at Columbia University about a new unit designed to help kids write their own comics.

TOON is thrilled to have our books selected by TCRWP as mentor texts for teaching comics in the classroom AND to have been invited to help introduce the new "Writing Graphic Novels" unit—with both Françoise Mouly and TOON author Kevin McCloskey as guest speakers.

Using Comics to Teach Reading and Writing

In a packed lecture hall at Columbia University, the day began with Françoise's presentation The Art and Craft of Graphic Novels, followed by a Q&A with Hareem Atif Khan, Staff Developer, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project and Instructor, Department of Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

​The audience was a group of teachers – many who had traveled from out of state – about the power of reading and making comics.  


Françoise Mouly speaks at the Writing Comics Institute

Some highlights...

You have to allow the flow of ideas, but focused on paper.

​"Let kids doodle, and don’t prevent them from copying.

A lot of cartoonists started out because they felt this was something they could do. The main thing is that they become fluent with the idea of expressing themselves!"


Ivan Brunetti's earliest drawings were inspired by Disney characters.

Let kids talk about the pictures.

​"Let them put the vocabulary to the pictures that they like.

It is impressive how receptive kids are... 

I remember the artist who draws Where’s Waldo came over to our house with his latest book which he had spent months on – it’s hard hiding Waldo! – And twelve minutes later my son comes back with the book, 'I found him!'" 


Human communication is multi-modal. So are comics.

​"Comics are phonetic, and you want the car to go THUMP, CRASH, BOOM because those are gestural cues."


The cartoonist can have sophisticated visual technique.


"Here, Sergio García Sánchez is using the space between the panels to make subway poles, which is the kind of thing that readers love finding because the artist is acknowledging that he’s created a work that is metaphorical as well as representational.” 

A love of the physical object.


"I spent all my youth reading and falling in love with the physical object. As far as I’m concerned, a book is a book; the pages are bound and there is something magical about the fact that every time you open it, everything is in the same place." 

After Françoise spoke, author Kevin McCloskey signed books as TOON's stock flew off the shelves...


Meanwhile, TOON's best dressed (yes that is a "FISHY" sports jacket), Kevin McCloskey chats with Lucy Calkins before giving his closing presentation: Creating Graphic Nonfiction Using the Comics Toolbox featuring his Giggle & Learn​ series.


Lucy Calkins & Kevin McCloskey


Hareem Atif Kahn with Françoise Mouly

Thank you to teachers emeritus Hareem Atif Kahn and Eric Hand and to Lucy Calkins and everyone at TCRWP for their incredible work bringing comics to the classroom!


About Teachers College

Lucy Calkins, Founding Director

The mission of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is to help young people become avid and skilled readers, writers, and inquirers. We accomplish this goal through research, curriculum development, and through working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, and school leaders. The organization has developed state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching reading and writing, for using performance assessments and learning progressions to accelerate progress, and for literacy-rich content-area instruction. Thousands of teachers regard the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project as a continual source of professional renewal and education. Well over 170,000 teachers have attended our week-long institutes, and over 4,000 participants return each year to annual Saturday Reunions.