Manga High

Manga High Literacy, Identity, and Coming of Age in an Urban High School

By Michael Bitz, Foreword by Françoise Mouly
Pub. Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-013-3
paper, 208 Pages
Pub. Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-18-1
Price: $32.00

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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.


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

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About the Author

Dr. Michael Bitz, EdD, is the founder of the Comic Book Project ( and cofounder of the Youth Music Exchange (www.Youth Music He is the first recipient of the Educational Entrepreneurship Fellowship at the Mind Trust in Indianapolis, and he received the Distinguished Alumni Early Career Award from Teachers College, Columbia University. His innovative pathways to learning have impacted children worldwide and have been featured by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, and many others. Dr. Bitz has served on the faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University and Ramapo College.

Table of Contents (PDF)

Introduction (PDF)

"Creativity in Crisis" Blog Post from Michael Bitz

"Manga Is My Life" by Michael Bitz

E-book available through online booksellers

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