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Faster Than A Speeding Bullet: The Case for Graphic Novels

You might remember being younger, sitting at a desk in a classroom with an open comic book. Of course, it would be tucked into that open space in your desk, the place where you kept notes from your friends passed during class, wads of chewed gum, and whatever else you didn't want the teacher to see. Because you knew if she caught you, you'd have to give that comic book over. After all a comic book doesn't count as a "real" book.

Why Go Graphic?

Thankfully, times have changed. Comic books, now known as graphic novels, have transformed into a celebrated genre of literature. They have tackled topics like immigration, racism, bullying, and sexuality. Their accepted status as "real books" stems from the fact that they boast complex plots, literary devices, symbolism, and cover a wide range of interests.

And their merits don't stop there. The pairing of text and images supports readers who struggle, scaffolds language for ELL students, and stirs up motivation for reluctant readers. The varied topics in graphic novels intrigues all levels of readers and helps emerging readers grow in confidence.

In short, if you don't have at least a couple graphic novels in your teaching repertoire (not to mention your classroom library), you're missing something.

Get Started

Implementing graphic novels into your curriculum is simple. Check out these three straightforward steps (complete with links to extra resources, yeah!) to begin including these amazing text today!

  1. Know the lingo: Graphic novels present students with a vastly different (any maybe unfamiliar) format for text. In order to help students navigate this genre, become familiar with the elements of a graphic novel. Download my Google slide presentation or visit this helpful resource from Penguin Books for more information.

  2. Choose some high-interest books: The American Library Association has been assembling "great graphic novel" lists for years. Find them here. The websites A Might Girl and The Conscious Kid also offer lists of graphic novels that promote diversity and inclusivity.

  3. Start learning: There are lots of places devoted to providing more information, resources, and education around graphic novels. The Free Library of Philadelphia boasts over 20 links to graphic novel resources. Scholastic also offers offers a quick and dirty overview of using graphic novels in the classroom. In addition, I have several free and paid resources for graphic novels at my Story Trekker website on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Take a test drive with a graphic novel today by checking one out at the library. I just picked up The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I'll let you know how they are in a future post.

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