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Editorial Cartoons Showcase Student Views on Big Issues

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Three students are deep in thought or engaged in writing as they make editorial cartoons.

Incorporating art projects in history, English and social science classrooms helps students practice communication through informed imagery. This spring, try the Political Cartooning Youth Media Challenge and see how your students can combine creativity and political commentary to share their views through editorial cartoons.

Editorial cartooning, which has a rich history in the United States, helps students analyze media messages, formulate their unique perspectives and create original artwork to communicate complex ideas. By emphasizing communication and passion for the subject over art skills, students of all artistic or technical levels can exercise their civic voice.

Join the Challenge

Our free Political Cartooning classroom curriculum guides students through the process of analysis, topic selection and cartoon creation to develop a unique piece of editorial artwork which reflects students’ views on a topic that’s important to them. This project is perfect for middle and high school students in English, social studies, journalism and art classes.

Your students can then publish their editorial cartoons to KQED’s Youth Media Challenge Showcase, which gives students an authentic public media audience beyond their classroom. Select submissions are also shared on KQED’s digital channels (including posts like this!), as well as with PBS and NPR member stations around the country.

Check out the creativity and diverse viewpoints in the student editorial cartoons featured below and read the student’s reflection on their artwork. You can find hundreds more cartoons, as well as audio and video submissions, on the Showcase.

Gender Equality

  • Women’s Rights Are Going Back In Time “I created this piece to illustrate the devastating effect that [Roe v. Wade] would inflict on the freedom and abilities of women living in the US.”  —Maren B.
  • Let Me Be “It is only human and innate to perceive and judge so quickly. Nevertheless, we have to respect other individuals and their decisions, no matter how different they are from us.” —Amy T.
  • 18c from Equal “The pay gap is a big deal so I really want to bring it to people’s attention to try to get them to care about it more and help the women fighting for equal pay.” —Vanessa R.

Environmental Activism

  • Behind Plastic Bars “Pollution has taken over the ocean and is killing our sea life and waters. The long lasting plastic is depicted with the old gangster turtle in jail.” —Sandra M.
  • Camp Fire “In the sketching and design process, I learned about ways to show an issue by drawing. For example, if you want to talk about climate change you could draw a person roasting a marshmallow over a forest fire.” —Nya M.
  • Our Home Is Not Your Trash Can “This political cartoon demonstrates the excessive amount of garbage that has entered our ocean over many years. This is extremely important because animals in the sea continue to die, the result of so many people’s carelessness.” —Sarina S.
  • Pay At the Pump “This sketch expresses the compromised relationship humans have with non-renewable resources. An unfortunate irony is exposed through the anthropomorphizing of dinosaurs extracting their own fossils.” —Eden S.

Political Reform

  • Cycle of Incarceration “This cartoon portrays how the criminal justice system traps you and how it can devastate families. The recycling bin is a symbol of the justice system and those incarcerated are being dragged into it by issues like stigmas, mental illness, unemployment, and poverty.” —Isaiah M.
  • The Cost of Fast Fashion “Those supporting Fast Fashion need to be educated on the effect their thoughtless spending has on the environment and their unknowing support of child labor.” —Audrey H.
  • Your Fault, Not Ours “This cartoon represents the unfortunate reality that companies that produce lots of pollution have been shifting the blame to the public.” —Ian H.

Societal Change

  • American Adolescence “I found that a factory system’s conveyor belt system perfectly encompassed this idea… [of] the monotony and restrictiveness of the American education system.” —Parish N.
  • Waist of Money “Every few years, Mattel will “update” Barbie to keep up with the changing times. However, these new dolls are the same as the classic blonde doll with a few features changed.” —Anka C.
  • “Dangerous People Not Welcome in America” “Out of all of the things I could have drawn for this project, I decided to draw something that I was able to relate to.” —Steffany C.
  • The Daily Lie “The mental health of teens has always been an issue, but it’s only gotten worse with the COVID-19 pandemic.” —Connie Z.

This spring, try including an art project in your English and social studies class and be amazed by what your students create. Submissions to our Political Cartooning Youth Media Challenge are open through June 2023!


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