Making Reading More Interesting Through the Use of Graphic Novels

Growing up I was one of the kids that didn’t want to read. I hated reading because it took too long to get to the end. I also disliked it because although I had a good imagination I found it hard to imagine while what I was reading. I rarely finished a book completely. I would sometimes quit halfway or I would use the trick of reading just the beginning, middle and end. We used to have to write book reports and I would just try to fake my way through. Then I got introduced to graphic novels. They were easy reads and they were more interesting because of the pictures. I could imagine each scenario because it was laid out on the page. The images still left me with the ability to fill in the gaps. It basically helped me play a movie of the book in my head. This is what got me into reading. Then I started reading other books like Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Vampire Books etc…

I believe that graphic novels could have a great impact on kids. They are not only easy reads but they are great for making your imagination more realistic. Students these days have more technology in their lives. They read less and they have less time in their lives to pick up a book and read. Graphic novels can be good for students who don’t have much time. In schools, I think a graphic novel per grade should be studied. Kids can learn to study them more thoroughly and see how the pictures tell more than just what is simply written in words on the page. Artists put a lot of thought into each image and there is always more to a picture than what is on the surface. It’s as though you are reading a book and analysing it. This could also help students be more imaginative and artistic.

Graphic novels are also a great way to get students who have trouble reading to pick up a book and read. For them they may see more in the images than in the text written on the page. It would be a great way to get there reading levels up. If you studied it in class then they could keep up and they would be able to participate more because they are able to stay at the same pace as everyone else.

When doing research I came across a site which gives a few names of graphic novels that deal with social issues. Link: “http://www.bookcentre.ca/newsletter_nov2014”. “This One Summer” is actually on the site and although I believe that when I got to the end I had trouble coming to terms with the book not having resolved certain issues, I also would have to agree with others who said that the book does show the realism of a summer at a cabin and about how some issues are dealt with within a family. It shows that going through a miscarriage is difficult and that it does put a lot of women into this phase of depression where there other child becomes neglected. Students would possibly be able to relate to this.

I also agree with the aspect of bringing graphic novels into a social studies class only because everything you read in social studies can become a little overwhelming. So much information needs to be remembered and it’s hard being in this day and age and trying to imagine what the soldiers went through or what life was like back then. Graphic novels would be a great way to help bring imagery into the picture and help kids visualize what was happening back then.

I am very pro graphic novels but that is only because of past experiences. I got a lot out of graphic novels and they helped me start enjoying reading. Although the ones I did read, weren’t exactly the kind you would bring into a class because they were very fantasy based, they did help me use my imagination and they brought out my creative side. Graphic novels should be brought into schools but they should also be taught and analyzed to a certain extent with teachers. It just opens up a new world for some readers.

I thought I would share a link to not a graphic novel but to a video of a woman using images that she is drawing in sand to depict a story. It shows just how powerful images can be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5bdMyOWLHg

– Jabin Teja

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4 thoughts on “Making Reading More Interesting Through the Use of Graphic Novels

  1. Kae says:

    I like hearing from someone who confirms the things we have been discussing in class, as it is easy to talk about teaching graphic novels in theory but reality is sometimes quite different. I think that, in order to be the most effective when teaching graphic novels, teachers may need to focus on having students analyse the images. This is because no teenager (that I know, at least!) wants to be handed a graphic novel “because it’s easier for people who have difficulty reading or who hate reading.” As we have said in class before, it is also important for critical thinking outside of the standard, linear guidelines. BTW, that video is awesome and I think the CCBC link was really useful!

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  2. While I agree with you that graphic novels are easier to read, I don’t think that’s the only reason they are valuable or should be used in school.
    Yes, graphic novels are great for reluctant readers and they’re great for non-English classes for teaching/exploring a subject/time period quickly. The social curriculum doesn’t leave room to read a historical novel, but you might be able to fit in a graphic novel, especially if you’re substituting it for textbook reading.
    But even for advanced readers in school, I think graphic novels can be valuable. I, for example, was always a strong reader and writer, but I’ve always had issues visualizing things. In fact, I basically don’t visualize what I read at all. When people ask me what I imagined a character to look like I’ll sometimes say things like “Oh, I pictured him with long hair” or “I picture her as being really tall and thin” but more often I’ll say “I didn’t picture her.” And I’m finding that graphic novels are great for my visual imagination. Ever since I’ve started reading graphic novels (which was less than a year ago) I’ve been finding that I can visualize things better when reading traditional text-only books.
    Graphic novels also teach visual literacy in a way that’s easier to study, analyse, and quote than watching a movie. Some students who are great text readers may not be able to read pictures and in a mostly-visual world, visual literacy is arguably more important or at least comparably important to textual literacy.

    -Christiane

    P.S. Since I’ve very recently started reading graphic novels, I wouldn’t mind a few referrals to graphic novels you thought were really good. 🙂 I just ordered several graphic novels from Amazon (Watchmen, Skim, Laddertop – by Orson Scott Card – and a graphic novel version of Julius Caesar) but once I’m done with those, I’ll definitely have to take a look at the link you provided.

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  3. Miranda MacKenzie says:

    I agree with your blog. As well as with the comments in regards to students not wanting to read a text because “it’s easy and you are a reluctant reader”. However, I would like to add that reading, particularly in YA texts, doesn’t always have to be this “intellectual” experience. Sometimes you should just read because you want to, and the book is good and you are having fun reading. I think for a lot of young adults, graphic novels allow them to do just this – HAVE FUN READING. I liked when you discussed graphic novels leading to your own enjoyment of reading other books. Sometimes children just need an “easy win” (graphic novels) to motivate them to read all the other stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all graphic novels are “easy” and they definitely contain important themes, I just think the appeal to a lot of young adults in ways that “regular books” may not have engaged them previously!

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  4. I think something valuable that we haven’t talked about a lot is the concept of using picture books in high school. We always talk about graphic novels, but my ed teachers LOOOOVE parading picture books around in high school classes. I think that the discussion shouldn’t be pictures OR text, but pictures and text, or pictures helping understand issues in class/texts. There are a lot of wonderful picture books that can be analyzed in social studies or CALM classes without taking two weeks of teaching time that get to the heart of some really deep issues. I have a picture book on my desk called The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain that would be phenomenal to use in a grade 11 social studies classroom when studying ultranationalism (which is, in fact, why it’s on my desk).
    I think there’s something about pictures that gets teens/students excited. They’re different than a page of solid text for one, but they also ignite a part of their brains that is often ignored. Visual learners rejoice when pictures are brought in to help illustrate ideas and other students enjoy the change of pace. I think visuals help conceptualize ideas in a different way than discussion and texts do and I’m really glad that we got to analyze This One Summer this year and the value of images.
    Also, excellent post!
    ~Cayley

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