School Library Journal posted this article today (Comics Are Key to Promoting Literacy in Boys, Study Says ) highlighting a report that suggests boys may well benefit from reading comics and graphic novels. The Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) argues that comics and graphic novels engage boys visual literacy and help them learn to track left to right and top to bottom, follow a sequence, predict what will happen next, and interpret visual images – all necessary skills for reading prose.
I remember attending a workshop at my school a few years ago where we discussed vocabulary development. Our presenter said that typical comic books often contain a lot more “tier 3” (low-frequency, context-specific) vocabulary than most regular text kids read in school. Yet lots of reluctant readers, especially boys, will pick up a comic book or graphic novel and devour it with gusto.
Unfortunately, teachers, parents, and librarians historically considered these as inappropriate reading material and have not included them in classrooms and school libraries. That attitude has changed rapidly among school librarians in recent years as evidenced by the huge number of resources, articles, and websites published on the topic. The American Library Association even featured a Graphic Novel Pavilion in its Exhibit Hall at the 2010 annual conference.
Today I had the pleasure of helping Charlotte High School re-stock it’s new library with brand new books. I was thrilled to see that the librarians there have made a very large collection of graphic novels available to their students. It was exciting to place the shiny new copies beside the older, obviously well-read ones. I could just imagine the students walking in on the first day of school looking for that next volume in the Naruto or Bone series…the girls will even be thrilled to see the new Twilight graphic novel based on the Stephanie Meyers series. Kudos to Charlotte High School!
Has your school embraced comics and graphic novels? Tell us how…what impact has it had?