Recently, I was lucky enough to get my hands on this fantastic book, Super-Powered Word Study.

What I love about the book is its focus on research-based strategies. This is not a simple ‘comics will make kids want to read’ book. The authors James Bucky Carter and Erik A Evensen have created a systematic approach to using comics to teach students how to decode words based on their Latin roots.  Their materials and methods are based on research on how the brain learns. The comics aren’t bad either…

The main characters of each short comic are named after a Latin root (prefix or suffix) and the stories are deliberately interlaced with context clues to help scaffold students’ understanding of the roots. Activities include word sorting and scavenger hunts within the stories as well as a final piece requiring students to craft their own stories using the roots themselves.  Each comic spans a week and follows the natural progression of building understanding through sorting and categorizing words through the application stage at the end of the week where students get to show what they understand by using the words in a new way.  In addition, understanding word roots will aid students in understanding the meanings of new words of all kinds that they may come across in the future.

I gave a copy to the sixth grade teacher across the hall and she reported that a few students snuck it away from her desk to read!

The book includes a CD that contains interactive comic-building software and pdfs of comics.

You can listen to a free webinar with the authors here.

I have a free copy to give away to the commenter with the best story about why their students will benefit from learning through Super-Powered Word Study!

The comment with the most ‘thumbs up’ votes by Monday, March 14th will win the book!


  1. Amy


    I currently work as a 6th-8th grade ELL teacher in Vancouver, WA. Last year I attended a workshop on how to use graphic novels in the classroom to motivate students to read and also use the key text features in graphic novels to help struggling readers decipher meaning. The students loved the unit, and from there I shared it also with the Special Ed teacher. Together, this year we pulled all the books we had together and did the unit again, this year at the beginning of the year and for 6th graders. It really helped with the skills of helping students develop vocabulary in smaller text, allowing them to use the visual and text clues to help them improve their reading, and also they were eager to make their own lil' graphic novel story. I know that having this great vocubulary resource tool would be a major enhancement to my unit. I also teach an after school tutoring program to at risk students & we focus on vocabulary building, so this would be much more exciting for the kids! So please…please! PICK ME!

  2. Ms. BreAnna Evans Educator, Mentor, Student


    Ms. Mary Beth Hertz,
    I enjoyed reading about this new-age technology for kids! I occasionally scan different articles and blogs, but when I came across this blog, I stopped looking! As a teacher for ten years, I could have definitely used this! The great addition to this is the CD. I read that Super-Power Word Study is a “systematic approach to using comics to teach students how to decode words based on their Latin roots. Their materials and methods are based on research on how the brain learns.” I truly appreciate multiliteracies that assist with diverse learners, because they create a different approach to learning. I also loved the mention of students wanting to read it for fun in addition to their lessons. When students find something they enjoy, we need to take advantage of that. This comic book for learning vocabulary is a great technological tool!

  3. Reply

    I created a Graphic Novel class in my district last year. I wanted a class that would appealnto section of my school that felt the other English classes had nothing to offer. I created a class that not only focuses on traditional literary elements, but explores the uses of the graphic medium to tell stories.

    I use Understanding Comics by Scott McLoud as the core text. It is a comic book about comic books and what makes them tick. I use graphic versions of Poe and Twain as a starter, then I move on to Persepolis by Marjan Satrapi. I also use Maus by Spiegelman and Bone by Jeff Smith. I do an independen reading dystopian novel unit that includes Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Kingdom Come and The Dsrk Knight Returns.

    I tend to have many students that are LD or EI, so using comics to connect with them has really helped their understanding of traditional literary devices. I'm always on the lookout for books to help me reach these students.

    Thanks for sharing!


  4. spiffylike


    I am a preservice teacher, and am so excited to teach with comics in the classroom. As a comic / manga / graphic novel enthusiast myself, I hope to share some of that interest with students. It is amazing how children are flocking to graphic texts during self-selected reading. There needs to be more high quality resources available in classroom libraries to meet these needs.

    Not just that, but such as resource as you mention above, allows many components of a literacy program to be taught WITH comics – awesome! Including comics–in other ways than allowing students to read them–is a fantastic idea, because it makes the word study content more relevant to the types of reading children are doing.

    Why should I win a copy? Mainly because I'm a student who has no money to build her own teacher resource library. But also, because I'm passionate about getting students to read, write, and understand language, and I love comics. This might even be useful if I want to do an Invention of Hugo Cabret novel study (students in this board are eating it up!).

    Thanks for posting what seems like such a useful and relevant resource!

  5. Julee Laurent


    Hey, I love reading your blogs…We are working on instituting a digital literacy program for our after school initiative and want to know if you can recommend a training program that our site leaders could attend. We cater to youth ages 6 to 17 in Benton Harbor, MI and have easy access to Chicago and Detroit/Grand Rapids. Of our demography of children served 92% qualified for free/reduced lunch and 62% of the children we serve live in poverty. The local school system only has 2 computer labs with 4 computers in a district of 12 schools. We will be providing this training for 90 minutes a week in our after school program with our own computers for now. We have had this program, offering academic enrichment and youth development for the underserved since 1999. Thanks so much for your time. My email is Also, any sites or advice is most appreciated.

    Julee Laurent

  6. Reply

    Congrats, Amy! You've won the book! You can email me your address at marybethhertz at gmail dot com and I'll send you out the book. I hope it comes in handy!

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