The prevalence of Young Adult (YA) graphic novels has exploded in the last decade or so. The question is, what value do they add to adolescent literacy? In my classes, I have students (pre-service teachers) select a graphic novel to read, evaluate, and present it to the class. They can work alone or with a partner.
This is motivated by Graphic Novels in the Secondary Classroom and School Libraries by Paula Griffith.
What is a graphic novel?
Graphic novels feature the same key components of a traditional novel. Graphic novels are a single narrative told through pictures and words. The term “graphic” does not mean “adult” or “explicit.” Graphic novels are books written and illustrated in the style of a comic book. This describes any book in a comic format that resembles a novel in length and narrative development. Graphic novels are a subgenre of “comics,” which is a word you may also hear people use when referring to this style of book. They are meant to be read as a single story, or may connect to others in a series. While comic series can span generations of readers, graphic novels develop as other novels or novel series.
Why use graphic novels?
Graphic novels are appropriate for use in all grade levels, from Pre-K up through higher education. You will obviously need to read and review the novel before using it with your learners.
Graphic novels are great to use for teaching young readers about scripting and sequence in a story. Graphic novels can help students develop critical thinking skills. They can be great texts to use to motivate reluctant or striving readers.
Where do I get graphic novels?
There are a multitude of ways to identify graphic novels you can use in your classroom.
One of my favorite pieces of advice is to head to your local library, and browse the graphic novel section to see what is available. Check in with the library media specialist and indicate what you’re looking for. It could be that you’re a third grade teacher, or something more specific, like “I’m a 10th grade social studies teacher.” Lastly…you might just be looking for new things to read. 🙂
I took the following photos from the library this past week while with my kids. See! These places really do exist!!!
While meeting with the library media specialist, you should also ask about digital offerings from the library. I love Hoopla, and some of the online resources my library system makes available. Basically you sign up for a library card, and then go online to whatever resource they offer. You sign in with your library card number, and then you can “check out” texts from the library. This usually includes ebooks, audiobooks, comics, graphic novels, movies, and music. I love checking out a couple of graphic novels or comic books on my tablet, and reading when I have free time.
What am I reading right now?
I’m reading the following texts with my kids as we speak. I 100% recommend small things by Mel Tregonning for all grade levels. A mandatory text IMHO.
Graphic novels can be valuable learning tools to help develop literacy skills. Learn more with this Teacher Roundtable with Cult of Pedagogy.