Graphic Novels:REAL Reading
Presented by The Oakland County Reading CouncilEmily Freeman, Vice President
What Comics Do You Remember Reading as a Child?
Why dont we consider comics REAL Reading?Common perceptions of comics:
Funny Shallow characters/plots Short Easy Frivolous
Comprehension Based on reading research: What do proficient readers do mentally as they read?
Use Prior Knowledge
Create Mental Images
Synthesize What They Read
What does that look like in REAL life?
Lets Try It With Comics!
Prior Knowledge Theory of Relativity Idioms Stereotypes of mathematicians
Mental Images What was going on before this
moment? What comes next?
Making Inferences What is he thinking?
Asking Questions What were you wondering
when you first saw the image? When you read the words? Still wondering now?
Determining Importance Where is the focal point? Which details are necessary for
understanding? Which details are less
Synthesizing Reading Whats the joke?
Writers give clues, but readers have to amass the evidence and draw conclusions for themselves.
Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003
Even if those clues are given through images and text together, rather than text alone.
What Are Graphic Novels?Are they really any different from comics?
Format, not genre Panels Left-to-right reading Can be any genre or age level Usually longer, stand-alone story
Graphic NovelsAccording to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund graphic novels have important features that develop reading skills:
Rich vocabulary, simple text
Visual/text pairing benefits comprehension
Content is wide, deep, and varied
Kids like them!
Vocabulary Comic books do NOT reduce vocabulary
demand. Comics have 53 rare words per 1,000,
compared with 52 per 1,000 in adult-level novels.
They DO provide picture support, quick and appealing storylines, and less text.
Make vocabulary more accessible.
Hayes and Athens, 1988
I determined never to talk down to the reader. I insisted on using college-level vocabulary. If a kid didnt know what a word meant, hed get it by osmosis. If he had to go to a dictionary, thats not the worst thing in the world!
Visual/Text Pairing Learning is maximized when pictures are
combined with text. Visuals make abstract concepts,
metaphors, and temporal/spatial relationships more clear.
Sequenced panels aid comprehension of plot development.
Story gaps between panels require active problem solving.
Content/Genre Graphic novel is a format, not a genre. Any story can be told in GN format,
including nonfiction. Many have fantasy elements. Lots of new realistic fiction and memoir.
Kids and ChoiceKids who are internally
motivated spend 300% more time reading independently than
kids who are not.McRae and Guthrie, 2008
Finding GNs Here are some things to look for to find one youll LOVE:
Places to Learn MoreReadingwithpictures.orgPublish educational comics for kids and comics reviews
getgraphic.orgHas an extensive book list by age appropriateness
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (cbldf.org)Download their pamphlet Raising a Reader for free!