Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Promoting Literacy with Graphic Novels

Graphic novels offer an enticing way to show struggling and reluctant readers that reading can be fun. Struggling readers benefit because they offer less text and great support to comprehension. Reluctant readers benefit because they can be so much more attractive than the books they have been avoiding.

I have many arguments for offering graphic novels to all kids. Not as an exclusive diet, but as one of the types of books they can choose from.
A few reasons I’ve offered here are ones I have also used when promoting picture books. This makes sense, since picture books and graphic novels are such close cousins. I hope some of them entice you to give graphic novels a try.

They are fun. Graphic novel authors know how to deliver a great story in dialogue and lively graphics.
They are motivating. The graphics draw us in and make us want to read on.
They often introduce new vocabulary and expressions. Unless they are written for very young readers, graphic novels can use a wide range of vocabulary words, often supported by the graphics.
They support reading comprehension and visualization skills. Some kids (and adults) have difficulty visualizing as they read, which hampers reading comprehension. Graphics offer clues that text alone can’t.
They offer a wide variety. There is a lot of variety in graphic novels:
  • in complexity of plot and graphics
  • in reading level
  • in interest level
  • in balance of humor, drama and life lessons

Teachers can use them to teach. They offer a chance to analyze literary conventions, character development, dialogue, satire, and language structures.  
They can increase awareness of how an author communicates.
  • how color affects emotions
  • how the use of print in the speech bubbles conveys attitude and emotion
  • how the author shows attitude and emotion in how the characters are drawn
  • how various graphic styles affect the reader’s perceptions
  • how pictures can stereotype
  • how realism or the lack of it plays into the message of a work

They introduce a variety of writing styles, authors, and illustrators. This can provide models for young writers to try when writing their own stories. Encouraging your kids to write their own graphic novels is highly recommended!

Expanding Literacies through Graphic Novels  from National Council of Teachers of English

Do you already have experience with graphic novels? Please share in the Comments Box!

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