Based on a four-year study, Manga High explores the convergence of literacy, creativity, social development, and personal identity in one of New York City’s largest high schools.
Since 2004, students at Martin Luther King, Jr., High School in Manhattan have been creating manga—Japanese comic books. They write the stories, design the characters, and publish their works in print and on the Internet. These students—African-American and Latino teenagers—are more than interested in the art and medium of manga. They have become completely engrossed in Japanese language, culture, and society.
Manga High is highlighted by reproductions and content analysis of students’ original art and writing. An appendix includes guidelines for educators on starting a comic book club.
In this valuable book, Samantha, Tenzin, Treasure, Kischer, Keith, and other students come to life for us through their creations. Michael Bitz has a message, one that is often forgotten: When teachers understand that young adolescents have value, everyone learns, and everyone teaches. Comics, especially manga, are a powerful way to tap into youthful talent and energy. The result, as Bitz shows us, is confident, capable young people who, against the odds, are ready to be productive adults. — John Merrow, Education Correspondent, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and President, Learning Matters
Manga High describes one of the most powerful literacy-based student-engagement projects I have encountered. It captures what many educators strive to accomplish—the use of a compelling medium to promote literacy and motivation. Teachers around the country will find this an invaluable resource, particularly those searching for literacy-based, hands-on projects. — Michael Nakkula, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
As the manga phenomenon goes global, most American kids are content merely to draw manga-like characters. In Manga High, Michael Bitz follows kids as they grapple with the complex and demanding tasks of plotting, writing, editing, designing, drawing, and producing comics—and consequently shaping their own lives. Manga High reveals that the most engaging learning occurs when pedagogy is directed by kids themselves. — Brent Wilson, Professor Emeritus, School of Visual Arts, Penn State
Why does Japanese manga continue to fascinate youth all over the world? This book uses students’ words and artwork to explore what manga means to them. I was impressed with the stories of the students’ personal lives and the way they used their artwork to find their voices to express their identities, deal with their problems, and find hope for the future. Manga High is an important and valuable tool for today’s classroom, relevant and engaging for any reader. — Masami Toku, Director, Shojo Manga Project