Our main aim is to make classical literature appealing to all; needless to say, this starts with younger readers and in education. To aid in differentiation in classes of mixed abilities, our range provides multiple text versions of each title, with the range broken down into "Shakespeare" and "Classics".
Shakespeare Range In order to be true to the Bard's works, our Shakespeare titles feature the entire script, unabridged, in the original setting. That is our starting point - the "Original Text".
Our research revealed how the complex Shakespeare language can deter many readers, especially those coming to a play for the first time. To cater for that, we publish a translation into plain English (from the entire script) that we call "Plain Text".
We took this process a stage further to create our third reading level, "Quick Text", that features reduced and simplified dialogue for younger and reluctant readers. This version is also ideal for students where English is not the first language, and also for a quick introduction to the play for even mature students.
Here is an example of the three levels of text in a panel from Macbeth:
Three text versions, linked to vibrant and exciting, yet realistic artwork, ensures that all students can engage with the text
Read what teachers say about our Resources
Remembering that the Classical Comics range of titles is designed to overcome a reluctance to reading, we decided that limiting the page count to 120-180 pages was important. Long enough to offer a satisfying read, but not too long that it discourages the reader. Therefore, our Classics Range needs to abridge the titles to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the length of the original novel.
The "Original Text" version features the authors words, carefully selected to augment the strong artwork that covers much of the descriptive prose.
We soon realised that the Original Text was straightforward to understand, and therefore decide not to create a Plain Text version of titles in this range; however we do create a "Quick Text" version that features a reduced and simplified version of the Original Text, just as for our Shakespeare titles.
Our three text versions allow a single class of mixed abilities to work with the same story. Lesser-able readers can use the Quick Text version, while the more-able readers can use the Plain Text or Original Text versions, giving you a classroom of pupils, of whatever ability, effectively reading from the 'same' page.
The books can be used to encompass core and foundation curriculum subjects including English language, English literature, history, art and drama as well as inspiring individual creativity within children.
Experts in the field, and teachers we are working with, believe that this medium promotes literacy in the most reluctant readers. A paper on the subject, courtesy of Mel Gibson and LTScotland gives the full picture: Graphic Novels Across the Curriculum
Teaching Classics at age 10
As our model schools have found, the books can be used from age 10 onwards utilising the Quick Text versions for classroom work, and Plain English plus Original Text for smaller reading groups.
GETTING BOYS TO READ
Designing cartoons based on the novels, then creating a new story, or ending, have been particularly successful with this age group. A current, well-documented challenge! Our books have been greeted by boys of all ages with massive enthusiasm. Quotes such as "I didn't know that Shakespeare could be so cool" and "I would read these at home too" came from our latest focus group looking at Henry V. The "high-impact" graphics make a world of difference here, appealing to readers on a visual level regardless of their reading ability.
For most titles in our range we publish a Teaching Resource Pack, full of activities that link with the text. Each 100+ page book includes a companion CD with the pages of the Resource Pack in Adobe Acrobat format, for printing and displaying on whiteboards, etc.