Using Cartoons to Persuade
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
You may remember that at my website, I offer free PDFs to help parents, teachers and librarians - or anyone interested in children's literacy/learning. One is Using Comic Editors with Kids, a free PDF booklet with lots of ideas and resources to get kids started with comic editors. Further to the ideas I listed in that booklet under the heading, Ideas for Using Comics at Home and School, today I want to discuss encouraging kids to use cartoons to persuade others about something.
Persuasive text creation is a very important part of the Australian Curriculum, and I know it's a priority in US schools too. Creating a cartoon to persuade is a nice bite-sized activity that helps kids explore the basics, without daunting them with too much writing.
When we use persuasion in communication, we try to convince readers/viewers of an opinion or belief. We may want them to support a cause we're passionate about, or change their minds about something. Often we use humour to do that, or try to evoke emotion in our audience.
Using a cartoon to persuade is just like any other kind of communication. To be effective, kids must think of their audience, their purpose, and how they intend achieving that purpose. Let's look at some examples of cartoons I made for the purposes of this post, and my own process in creating them.
First of all, I cast around for ideas of subjects I care enough about to try to persuade others to think my way. Luckily, I found some! For quickness, I decided to use ToonDoo for all my cartoons.
|Read to Kids|
Newspaper cartoonists have been using their creations to persuade, provoke thought, stimulate discussion and make political and social commentary for years. Sharing selected such cartoons with kids will give them great models to discuss and learn from. While I don't think students under 12 necessarily need to understand the use of irony and symbolism by cartoonists, many children will have an instinctive understanding of the use of humour generally. Discussing techniques cartoonists use will help them not only create their own cartoons, but develop a better understanding of the cartoons they see. I like this list of 10 Things to Look for in Cartoons from VCE Study Guides. Mark Anderson's Andertoons is a good place to browse cartoons online (using parental/teacher guidance as always). Look out for books of cartoons too.
If you're interested in articles about children's own writing, you might like: Biff! Zap! Pow! Using Comic Editors for Education, Tips and Prompts for Young Writers, Fast and Fun Writing with Kids, Get Kids Writing with Lists, Helpful Resources for Young Writers, Start Kids Writing with Fun Image Editors and Quick Writing Online.
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