Thursday, June 30, 2005

Graphic novels and comic books

I love watching first graders walk into the building in the fall. They are so excited that they are going to learn to read. By the end of the year, most of them ARE reading. What an amazing accomplishment! They have learned to translate the ink markings and squiggles on a page into a word on their lips and a picture in their mind.

I have watched all kinds of readers and non readers choose library books. I prefer to be in the middle of them, pointing out a title here, a series there, steering them to the car, bat, skateboarding, dog, disaster, (insert nonfiction interest here) books.

Often the books of choice for my struggling readers are the drawing books and the I Spy series--Calvin and Hobbes too of course. On the other hand, have you ever noticed how "reluctant" readers can RECITE multiple volumes of Garfield to you from memory?

Why do some kids catch the reading bug and others do not? That is the question that makes being a school librarian so interesting. What can I give this student to make reading easier and more fun? It is always a matter of the right book at the right time and the right child but timing is everything.

I see students who can read the words but the movie and pictures the words paint do not "play" in their imaginations as they read. Getting that movie to play takes lots of listening and reading practice...which is why I love comic books and graphic novels. I think they support and bridge that gap between the imagination and the words on the page.

Reaction to graphic novels has been huge. Here is a great article discussing this trend.

"There's such a stigma against comics but we're endorsed by Reading is Fundamental," said Liza Coppola, vice president for sales at Viz Media, referring to the organization that promotes children's literacy in the United States.

"They picked up this category because they found that they can get the kids with Dr Seuss, but at a certain point they lose them to video games. But this is such a visual medium, it draws them in," she said in an interview at Book Expo America...

Finding books that fit in an elementary collection is challenging because many of them trend towards YA. Sidekicks has an excellent list of graphic novels that will fit AOK with elementary grade folks.

It is part of No Flying No Tights for Teens.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Good post, Camille! This has become such a topic in the past few weeks, hasn't it? Nice to hear your (reasoned) perspective on graphic novels (esp. for the younger set)