Every creative writing program includes a variety of ways for students to take their ideas and transform them onto the page. Teachers expose students to high quality literature with good stories and complex characters to enrich their reading and enhance their writing. However, teachers of students with a range of reading abilities do not have to sacrifice rich literary content. For this reason, many teachers incorporate graphic novels in their lesson plans!

Whether you want to introduce how to write graphic novels for students, or you want to have students transfer their knowledge of another piece of literature into graphic novel form, Storyboard That can help you create the perfect graphic novel assignment. Students will love using the Storyboard Creator to make a comic book or graphic novel for their school project.

Why Teach with Graphic Novels?

More and more teachers are encouraging their students to read graphic novels as part of their standard ELA curriculum. However, graphic novels are still sometimes given a bad rap because they make people think of poorly written comic books - rather than great literary works. "Graphic novel" really just means "long picture story" or "a novel in comic-strip format" and are often of the highest literary quality!

Comic books or graphic novels are a type of format for literature, not a genre. They can be in the form of fiction, non-fiction, history, fantasy; the sky's the limit! They use both illustrations and words in sequence to tell a story. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, graphic novels are generally more complex, stand-alone stories while comic books evoke the superhero genre. Both include detailed character descriptions and narrative arcs that are depicted in visuals as well as words.

In the earliest grades, when students are still learning letters and building vocabulary, they are encouraged to draw during "Writer's Workshop". As students get older, they are given fewer and fewer opportunities to create illustrated stories, despite the fact that we live in a very visual world. Most students (and teachers for that matter) are visual learners. It only makes sense to incorporate graphic novel projects into your curriculum in order to engage students, and help them develop their critical thinking skills in reading and writing! Written skills are vital for college and the workplace, but images are as well. Social media, advertising, marketing, television, film, construction, engineering, and many more industries use imagery as a crucial part of their business.

Graphic novels help struggling readers grasp the story as a form of visual literacy. They engage students, and help students develop confidence in their reading skills. Graphic literature captures student interest, and help make complicated ideas seem less intimidating. Not only is teaching graphic novels fun, but it is also the perfect way to raise student interest and student motivation, encourage independent reading, and boost your classroom ideas for new activities and lessons.

Graphic Novel Project Ideas

New Kid by Jerry Craft and White Bird by R.J. Palacio, are examples of moving and thought provoking graphic novels taught at all levels. New Kid is popular for grades 3-6 while White Bird is often used in grades 4-7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Key Fitzgerald is a classic novel that has been taught in high school classrooms for decades. This graphic novel version adapted by Fred Fordham and Aya Mortonmakes allows this complex work to become accessible to all students. The storyboard graphic novels below are just a few examples of what students can create!

A graphic novel project is the perfect way for students to use their imaginations and write their own stories, summarize the plot of a graphic novel that they have read or to have students transfer their knowledge of another piece of literature into graphic novel form. Many popular novels have been turned into graphic novels to meet a broader audience and introduce students of all abilities to classic works of literature.

How to storyboard a graphic novel can be daunting. But, never fear! We have many graphic novel organizers to choose from in our templates collection. Check out our versatile Graphic Novel Templates! Remember, when giving your students an assignment in Storyboard That, you can add as many templates as you like to differentiate and provide student choice!

My point: Both images and words tell stories. Both images and words can tell great stories, on their own or together. Don't know how to make a comic book for a school project? These templates can help! Click on any of the storyboards below to be brought into the Creator to customize as you wish!

Popular Graphic Novel Examples for High School

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds deals with mature themes and is a powerful book to introduce to middle and high schoolers in grades 8-12. While New Kid and White Bird were originally written as graphic novels, Long Way Down was a novel written in verse that was later converted into graphic novel format by Jason Reynolds and Danica Novogorodoff. Many high school English teachers have been incorporating graphic novel project ideas into their curriculum. They have included graphic novel versions of literature as both a way to reach all readers and to enhance the original literary work with visual art! Teachers and students have been overjoyed to find many of the classics that are often taught in school are now available in graphic novel format.

The comic book storyboard example below showcases how students can use Storyboard That to demonstrate their understanding and analysis as well as their creativity for a book like Long Way Down. Using the Creator, students can retell a story or create a graphic novel storyboard of their own!

Graphic novel ideas are everywhere! Literary works of all genres are being adapted into graphic novel form. Some other graphic fiction examples of classic novels that are perfect for high schoolers are:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault
  • The Odyssey by Homer and Gareth Hinds
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Harper Lee and Fred Fordham
  • Jane by Charlotte Brontë, Aline Brosh McKenna, and Ramón K. Pérez
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell and Odyr
  • Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy and Octavia Butler
  • Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carrol
  • Dune: The Graphic Novel by Brian Herbert, Kevin Anderson, Frank Herbert, and Raul Allen

Powerful graphic story examples written for high school students and adults are:

  • The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
  • I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib
  • Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green/li>
  • Displacement by Kiku Hughes
  • Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell
  • I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, John Jennings, and Stacey Robinson

Utilizing a comic book graphic organizer helps students dissect complex literary works. Check out the comic book storyboard examples below for the classics: The Handmaid’s Tale, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Odyssey.

Popular Graphic Novel Examples for Middle School

Some examples of popular literature turned into graphic novels that are perfect for middle schoolers are:

In addition, some graphic novel examples for students in middle school include:

  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Elsinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker;
  • Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
  • All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
  • Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale
  • The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
  • Smile, Drama, and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

These storyboards depicting the narrative arc of the story for The Giver and The Diary of Anne Frank are an engaging way for students to summarize the important parts of a story in graphic novel form.

Popular Graphic Novel Examples for Elementary School

An example of a classic book that was turned into a graphic novel that is compelling for upper elementary school is:

More examples of award-winning graphic novel stories that elementary students love are:

Reading graphic novels with students and using these graphic novel lesson plans in the classroom engages even the most reluctant readers. Once they are captivated by the story they will forget that they are reading a complex work of literature that encourages them to utliize their critical thinking skills! The copiable storyboards below depict examples of what a student could make if they were to turn A Wrinkle in Time or New Kid into their own graphic novel.

How to Make a Graphic Novel on Storyboard That

Writing is difficult for many people, for many different reasons. Sometimes words aren't enough to convey a message, and sometimes images aren't either. They say "a picture is worth a thousand words," but some words, like war, love, and loneliness, are worth much more than a thousand pictures.

Give your students the chance to incorporate both words and pictures into their creative writing by assigning a graphic novel project. Some students will be able and excited about making their own graphic novel digitally or on paper. Some students may need Storyboard That to help them with the art.

Graphic novel indicates a long story. This is not just a quick comic that can be told in a few cells. Novel. So that means, lots and lots of pictures. However, pictures are not the only part of a graphic novel. Again: novel. While you may not be interested in having your students create hundreds of pages, short stories and modern adaptations of classic literature make an excellent graphic novel project. In addition to forming a plot, students still need to consider literary conflict, character development, themes, and a whole host of other literary elements.

True professional novel writing usually takes months, and more likely years, to complete. A professionally published graphic novel is no different. Graphic novels require the same writing process as any storytelling project. My example below is not a finished product, but it is a great start. Take a look at this quick guide to the writing process, so you and your students can get crackin'!

How to Plan a Graphic Novel Project

How To Infographic Templates }

Graphic story writing engages all of the same critical thinking skills of classic pen to paper writing. It is important to help students brainstorm their graphic story ideas by providing structured steps or scaffolding the assignment. Students can ask themselves: What is the story going to be about? What is the setting? Who are the main characters? Who are the supporting characters? What is the main conflict? What happens in the end? These are all important big ideas to think about when planning out your story. Details come later, focus on the big picture.

Need some help? Check out the article on spider maps, our storyboard templates, the "Story Starters" activity, or create your own graphic organizer to plan!

You can make your own handy visual for the steps in the writing process like the one on the left using our How-To Infographic Templates!

Make a Draft

Drafting with a storyboard is a lot of fun! Any graphic novel assignment can begin with a draft storyboard which is when your story really comes together. Take all those ideas and arrange them into a basic story structure. This could look very different for a graphic novel than a piece of straight writing. It might involve putting characters and/or scenes in the cells, but not customizing them. A handy trick with the Storyboard Creator is copying and moving cells. That way, you can add more cells in between other cells, copy cells and make slight changes, rearrange cell order, and more.

Drafts are supposed to be sketches of the final project. The first draft and the published work could be miles apart - and that's fine. Don't try to get everything right the first time - it will only be frustrating. The draft is there just to get the ideas in a coherent (or not) order - to move into the shape of a story. It is not until all of the ideas are laid out before you that you can make sense of them and make them good!

If you want to add another level to the storytelling when drafting, check out some pre-made graphic novel layouts that can be assigned as a template. Playing with the layout and flow of the story will help inform pacing and action, and really take your graphic novel to the next level!


You've got the basics. Now it is time for you to work in some magic: details, descriptions, new ideas, new angles, color, poses, speech bubbles, cropping, layering, customization... This is when you get to SEE your story unfolding.

Pro Tip: Copy the work you've already done. Save time by copying characters, scenes, and items that are already in your storyboard instead of looking for them again. That way, you will have the same color and/or filter choices selected. Copy entire cells if some things stay the same from frame to frame, especially if the action occurs in the same scene. You can still adjust everything to suit the needs of the new cell.

In the example storyboard below, the top row represents a very basic idea of what I want to happen in the story, or my draft. The bottom row shows what it might look like after I have solidified my story and started to make revisions and add details.

Revise Again

Yep. The revision stage can last a long time. Revising is my favorite part, but it is also the hardest part. Changing the hard work you have already put in might be difficult to take. Students often think, "Well, I put something there, so it's done!" No. Revising is essential to any good story. Stories need a chance to grow! Your story is not a magic bean; it needs cultivation and care that only you can give because it is your story. That being said, I do suggest having someone else look at your work during an optional peer-revision step. It is important that someone that doesn't have the story mapped out in their head can follow your story!


Here is where you go through the graphic novel pages with a fine toothed comb. Check to make sure you have the colors you want, the cropping right, the transitions just how you want them. Are all the words spelled correctly? Do you have the right punctuation? Is the progression of cells clear to the reader?


Yes, you spent some time editing. Now is the time that you get that magnifying glass out. You might even want to have someone else proofread your work, since you have already gone over it many times.


Share your work in class or online. Storyboard That has several options to print your amazing graphic novel, too. There is nothing like holding a published piece of your work in your hand.

Printing your Graphic Novel on Storyboard That

Add in video and audio for some amazing digital storytelling! Be sure to check out Storyboard That with PPT and More for more ideas on what to do with your masterpiece.

My First Chapter of Juniprix

Related Activities

Why Use Storyboard That?

Storyboard That is the perfect tool for novel lesson plans and activities because it's so easy to use and extremely versatile. With Storyboard That, you can create a wide variety of storyboards such as the story from the main character's perspective, or any other character's point of view.

You can also use Storyboard That to create a summary of the book, a movie poster, or analyze themes and events. Plus, our printable worksheets make it easy to take the fun offline.

Why is Storyboarding a Great Method of Teaching?

Storyboarding is an incredibly powerful tool for educators because it helps students process and understand the information in a deep, meaningful way. When students storyboard, they are actively engaged in the learning process and can make connections between the text and their own lives.

Storyboards also promote higher-level thinking by encouraging students to synthesize information and think critically about what they have read. Finally, storyboards are a great way to assess student understanding because they provide a visual representation of student learning.

How To Integrate Graphic Novels With Other Subjects In The Classroom Using Effective Cross-Curricular Connections

1 Choose The Appropriate Graphic Novel

Select a graphic novel that is appropriate for your subject area and grade level. Consider the themes and concepts that you want to teach and choose a graphic novel that aligns with your goals.

2 Plan The Cross-Curricular Connections

Identify specific connections between the graphic novel and other subjects. For example, a graphic novel about a historical event can be used to teach history, while a graphic novel about climate change can be used to teach science.

3 Introduce The Graphic Novel

Introduce the graphic novel to students and provide context for the subject area and themes that it explores. Preview the graphic novel and discuss any unfamiliar terminology or historical events.

4 Read And Analyze The Graphic Novel

Read the graphic novel with students and analyze it using specific critical thinking skills. For example, in a social studies class, students can analyze the author's use of imagery to convey historical events or the use of dialogue to develop characters.

5 Make Cross-Curricular Connections

Incorporate the cross-curricular connections that you planned into the lesson. For example, in a science class, students can analyze a graphic novel about climate change and use it as a springboard for a research project on the topic.

6 Assess Student Learning

Assess student learning using a variety of methods, such as a quiz, a written response, or a project. Provide feedback on student work and assess whether they have met the learning goals for the lesson.

7 Reflect On The Lesson

Reflect on the lesson and evaluate its effectiveness. Consider what worked well and what could be improved for next time. Make adjustments as needed to improve the integration of graphic novels with other subjects in the classroom.

Frequently Asked Questions about Graphic Novels in the Classroom

How to storyboard a graphic novel?

Storyboard That makes it easy to storyboard your own graphic novel! We have dozens of graphic novel and storyboard templates to choose from! Students can:

  • Choose the important moments and events that make up the story.
  • Illustrate each event or moment in a separate frame.
  • Add text in a description box or speech bubble!

There is no drawing required! It is so easy to illustrate using the thousands of artist-created, customizable images in the Storyboard Creator! Students can easily rearrange and copy the cells or frames. They can also add as much or as little text as they want with speech bubbles and other textables.

How to make a comic book for a school project?

Teachers love to see their students engaged and excited about learning. Storyboard That makes it easy for students to create a comic book on any topic for school. They could create a storyboard or comic to explain a historical event in social studies, delve deep into a science topic, write their own creative story or even illustrate difficult math concepts! Students comics can be easily downloaded, printed or even turned into an animated gif! Here are some ideas for storyboard school projects in elementary, middle and high school!

How to plan a graphic novel?

Planning a graphic novel is very similar to planning any other kind of writing. Simply follow these steps: brainstorm, draft, revise, revise again, edit, proofread, and publish!

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