Randall Monroe’s XKCD does a stellar job of explaining scientific concepts while also making people laugh. So, it makes a surprising amount of sense for those comics to find their way into high school textbooks.
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has agreed a deal to use pages from Monroe’s latest book, The Thing Explainer, which explains science and engineering topics using only the most common 1000 English words. HMH’s 2017 editions of its Chemistry, Physics and Biology texts will all feature illustrations.
Monroe hopes his illustrations will break up the “monotony and pace of a typical textbook”, rather than replacing conventional anatomy diagrams altogether. Sure, it would be easy to accuse the publisher of dumbing down high school textbooks, but if describing rockets as the “US Space Team’s Uper Goer Five” is what it takes to get kids into STEM, it’s probably worth it.