XKCD Creator's Comics to Be Published in High School Textbooks

Randall Munroe // CC BY-NC 2.5
Randall Munroe // CC BY-NC 2.5 / Randall Munroe // CC BY-NC 2.5

If you’re a teenager who would rather read comics than skim through assigned school reading, you’re in luck. According to The New York Times, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will include drawings by Randall Munroe, creator of popular web comic XKCD, in their new science textbooks. The books will be published this summer, and will hit classrooms this fall.

Munroe is a former NASA roboticist. In 2005, he started XKCD, a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” The comic depicts whimsical stick figures, who use regular language and jokes to discuss esoteric science. In recent years, Munroe published two related books, What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (2014) and Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (2015). Like XKCD, both works explore complex academic subjects using basic words and pictures. Thing Explainer, in particular, tackled topics like tectonic plates and nuclear bombs using the 1000 most common words in the English language.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's textbook editors saw page proofs of Thing Explainer, according to the Times. They thought its drawings would make fun—and educational—additions to 2017 editions of HMH Chemistry, HMH Biology, and HMH Physics, The Verge writes.

“It’s a way of deepening the engagement level for students,” Peggy Smith-Herbst, a senior vice-president at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, told the Times.

Many of the textbooks' comics will be excerpted from Thing Explainer, but Munroe says he will include a few new ones as well. Check out a sneak peek of the revamped books online—and while you’re at it, learn how XKCD has inspired not just publishers, but real-life readers.

[h/t The New York Times]