Feature: Graphic Novels in High School Libraries

In researching other online platforms advocating for the usage of graphic novels in the classroom as a contemporary, relevant genre of literature, I stumbled across this great roundtable discussion, facilitated by Josh Hogan on Graphic Novel Reporter, with three high school librarians from various states across the U.S.  It’s well worth your read, so take a look at what the participants have to say about the popularity of graphic novels in their respective schools, how they’ve incorporated these visual books into their collections, and the reactions they’ve received from the public concerning their decisions here, or, check out my favorite moments from the aforementioned conversation below!  If you like what you read, be sure to look into the site’s other roundtable discussions regarding graphic novels for more up-to-date commentaries.

From Heidi Hammond, a librarian at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, MN, who wrote her Ph.D thesis on reader responses for the young adult, Printz Award winning graphic novel, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang:

“Students were surprised how much they enjoyed reading a graphic novel. Initially, some balked at reading a ‘comic book.’  It didn’t seem like serious literature to them. However, they found a graphic novel could include serious issues such as immigration, culture, racial identity, and stereotyping. While they had no trouble reading and understanding the book, they appreciated it even more after lessons about comics conventions. Asked to read and respond to the book a second time, they felt they noticed more in the images and grasped more of what the author was attempting to communicate.”

“I think school libraries have a responsibility to include graphic novels in their collections. Not only are there graphic novels to support just about any curriculum, graphic novels also support literacy. Our concept of literacy must expand beyond reading and writing print on a page. Texts come in a variety of combinations of modes, and print alone does not dominate. These multimodal texts require multimodal literacy. Graphic novels, combining print literacy and visual literacy, help our students develop the multiliteracy skills necessary to be literate in these times of ever-new information and communication technologies.”

photo source: Becky Malewitz/SourceMedia Group News

From Melissa Neace, librarian at Larkin High School in Elgin, IL:

“English and reading teachers accept GN reading as reading: students may use them for sustained silent reading, book reports, etc. I have GN adaptations of several works of literature and have teachers who use them in class to visualize an author’s mood or setting. When I do professional development for teachers to help them select materials for classroom libraries, GN titles are always included, and many teachers have GNs in their classroom libraries.”

Hope you enjoyed these two specialist’s insights into the genre, and perhaps had elucidated for you some previously unforeseen or unexpected uses of graphic novels in an educational atmosphere!

-Elizabeth

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One Response to Feature: Graphic Novels in High School Libraries

  1. Michael says:

    Really great points made by these professionals! I think as a group we’re all coming to some similar conclusions about the merits of graphic novels, and it’s heartening to see a professional defense of the marginalized genre.

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