Graphic Novels Help Teachers Hook Reluctant Readers
The Miami Herald reports
that some teachers have had good success getting reluctant readers to read by using graphic novels.
Before anybody explodes about kids reading comic books when they're supposed to be doing quadratic equations or studying Shakespeare, know that comic books have changed, and so has reading.
Under the spiffier label of "graphic novels," these bound books feature every stripe of hero and story. "The themes and genres can range from science to biography, and from memoirs to yes, superheroes," said John Shableski of Diamond Book Distributors, which specializes in comics. "Every subject is available in the format."'
These are not your father's comic books. Superman and Wonder Woman, yes; but also graphic novel editions of the works of Shakespeare, and many classics -- The Red Badge of Courage, Beowulf, Greek myths, the Adventures of Robin Hood, even Canterbury Tales.
Last year, the Printz Award, an American Library Association honor for the most distinguished book for teens, went to American Born Chinese,a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney was an original online comic about a beleaguered middle-schooler before the hard-cover edition propelled it and its sequel to The New York Times bestseller list. Bone, about a marshmallow-y type creature's adventures, was self-published by Jeff Smith before Scholastic bought it, colorized it and split it into nine volumes. A million copies of the first installment, Out From Boneville, have been sold. Scholastic brought the series to the classroom by producing a teacher-friendly guide.
Comics are infiltrating the schoolhouse like never before because they are reaching that most elusive of creatures -- the reluctant reader. Faced with a generation raised in a visual environment dominated by television, the Internet and electronic games, teachers and librarians have found comics will lure readers -- especially boys -- who have a limited interest in books.
If graphic novels get kids to read, then graphic novels it shall be. That's our opinion, anyway. Once you get someone really hooked on reading, it becomes a lifelong habit.