Graphic Novels

graphic novels
After reading the book Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It written by teacher Kelly Gallagher, I was compelled to write a grant to the Snapdragon Foundation in order to get more graphic novels into our library. In the book Mr. Gallagher states, "Students who read less, read less well. Students who read less well, do less well in school. People who do less well in school, do less well in the workplace and participate less in civic life." That implies that getting students "hooked" on reading will have a positive effect on them for life! I feel certain that graphic novels can help ignite a love for reading in Tonasket Elementary School’s reluctant and struggling readers and help guide them to a successful future. I am very happy to report that our library received the grant for these books which are currently in our catalog.


High interest graphic novels can spark a lifelong love of learning. They offer an enticing way to show struggling and reluctant readers that reading can be fun. Struggling readers benefit because they offer less text and great support to comprehension through the illustrations. Both reluctant and struggling readers need access to books that they will love reading. This is something I have seen over and over, working with students who are reluctant to read. It is can be a real challenge to find books that include topics these readers enjoy which are interesting, quite possibly humorous, and yet comfortable. A growing body of research shows that graphic novels are not only motivating, but support struggling readers and are highly effective at teaching content such as science and social studies. These high interest texts immediately grab reader's interest and students will gravitate to these books.


All children, but particularly struggling and reluctant readers, need to feel that reading is one of the most exciting things that happens at school. In order to get them excited about reading, we need to have books that are truly engaging. I am repeatedly asked on a daily basis for books to check out in the graphic novel format. Reading these materials will boost students’ self-confidence as readers and build momentum for the desire to read more. Young readers who have developed a sense of confidence in reading will be prepared to branch out into reading other forms of literature in time.


Children have become more visually oriented due to television, computers, video games, and the Internet. Graphic novels complement this trend. They encourage reading for pleasure and are a great way to entice reluctant readers, special needs students, and ESL learners to become interested in books. The graphic novel format can also help reluctant and struggling readers understand plot, sequence of events, and inferences within stories. This format can also help teach story structure and promote understanding of character development and setting. These are critical reading skills that will help enhance student’s reading comprehension of other reading materials.


As a teacher-librarian, I can speak to the fact that the few graphic novels we had before the grant were rarely on the shelves. Students were powerfully attracted to them and motivate them to read. Many librarians have built up graphic novel collections and have seen circulation figures soar. I have read many times that school librarians and educators report outstanding success getting students to read with graphic novels, especially boys which has been identified as a group traditionally difficult to reach. Graphic novels can dramatically help improve reading development for students struggling with language acquisition. Illustrations provide contextual clues to the meaning of the written narrative and clues to emotional context that might have been missed when reading traditional text. English-language learners and special-needs students will be more motivated by graphic novels, and can readily acquire new vocabulary and increase language proficiency.


Simply stated, graphic novels promote literacy. They motivate reluctant and struggling readers, foster the acquisition of critical reading skills, and can be used across the curriculum as a tool for improving the use of language, developing critical thinking skills, and promoting creativity. Graphic novels are something students are eager to get into their hands. I feel certain they will help our students achieve greater success in reading.


Kimberly Fitzthum

TES Teacher-Librarian

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