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Students at a New York middle school learn history through comic books

NEW YORK (CBS) - Students in one school district are learning history and civics in a new way.

The sixth graders at PS 315 in New York City are immersed in comic books in the middle of class, but the superheroes in these comic books don't fly, or spin spiderwebs. They are famous civic leaders and historical figures, a tool their teacher, Ruth Duran-Chea, is using to teach history.

"It comes to life for them, and it has some of the emotion that they want to out of history, they don’t want it to be just facts and information," Duran-Chea said.

The graphic novels were created by "Civics For All." part of New York City Public Schools. They're drawn by top artists in the comic book industry. There are books on activism, Asian-American history, and democracy- all told through vivid, colorful pictures.

"Graphic novel and comics are way better because it’s more engaging and it hooks the reader more," said one student.

Duran-Chea says she's never seen her students this excited about reading. "The second I put them out, they start disappearing from my desk. So that speaks for itself," she said.

New York schools have printed 25 comics, with two million copies so far, making them one of the largest comic publishers in the country.

Jenna Ryall, director of Civics for All, says it's a lesson plan other school districts could follow. "The traditional textbook is not the only way to get the information that we want our students to have to them," she said.

The school district says the comics won't replace textbooks, but are being used as an additional way to get kids engaged in reading.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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