When I found out that we would be reading graphic novels (7 of them!) for my Content Area Literacy class, I had mixed feelings. Here were my initial thoughts on reading graphic novels for this class: First, I thought, “ok, that sounds pretty easy. Comics are quick reads”. Second, I kind of groaned, “Ugh, I really don’t like comic books”. Then I immediately assumed this was something that I wasn’t going to be able to use in my context of teaching pre kindergarten students.
I have to admit, I have really shifted my thinking on graphic novels. Revisiting my initial feelings, I now feel: “Graphic novels are actually NOT easy reads. In a lot of ways they can be more challenging. It took awhile for me to figure out HOW to read them. There are panels, illustrations, and inserts to attend to. I had to look back and forth to be sure I was comprehending. Also, these graphic novels totally made learning more engaging. Would I have picked up a text about the U.S. and Russia’s race to space ever? Um, no. Set in a graphic novel though, this was interesting! And I learned stuff!
I realized that kids need these to help support what they are learning. I love the idea of teaching science, history and math through graphic novels. We want kids to learn, does it matter how? Actually, yes, in all different ways with many different modes of literacy.I am much more open-minded to graphic novels and comics. When I use to see kids hunkered down and reading them, I tended to make judgments that they were slower or lazy readers. Not at all now.
I LOVED John Lewis’ March. I ended up checking out Book 2 and 3 from the library to read with my 11-year-old. This book’s way of depicting the injustices in the past-and prompting discussions of present day racial injustices was RIGHT ON TIME for current news and how to discuss it with my own children.
After my daughter auditioned and was cast as Miranda in her school’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, I found a graphic novel version of this to purchase for her class. Her fifth grade teacher reported how using this book has resulted in the students better understanding the language in the play.
How about my earlier thought on not being able to use graphic novels with my pre-k class? Well, I am looking at texts differently as a result of this study. Pointing out speech and thought bubbles in the books I read to my students are preparing them for text they will encounter in their next years. I have found some great books developmentally appropriate for my grade level that can be considered graphic novels. A sampling of some of my favorites I have worked with this semester are:
Furthermore, our discussions of graphic novels have helped me consider the importance of other alternative texts I can use, like wordless books, books with labels, and the use of photography.
Stay tuned, I am hoping to blog about my use of photography to promote literacy in my class this spring. Putting cameras in preschool hands!