Graphic Novels in
My Classroom?
Larry Bedenbaugh
UCF College of Education
8th Annual Literacy Symposium
Food for Thought
“My father used to try and help
me, and I got to loving to read,
because he allowed me to read
comics, which most people said
you shouldn't let your child
read because they will spoil
him. But that gave me an
extraordinary hunger for
reading.”
~ Bishop Desmond Tutu
Nobel Prize Winner
Food for Thought
“On the basis of my personal
experience and the research
available, I would go so far as
to say if you have a child who is
struggling with reading,
connect him or her with
comics. If an interest appears,
feed it with more comics.”
~ Jim Trelease
Author and Educator
Food for Thought
“As one of only five art
forms native to America:
the banjo, jazz, musical
comedy, the mystery novel,
and the humble comic book,
comic books deserve their
place in our history, our
culture, and our society."
~ David Jay Gabriel, President
New York City Comic Book Museum
Food for Thought
“The great sorrow of my
life is never having done
comics.”
~ Pablo Picasso
Food for Thought
"Graphic novels are terrific in
that they have a good story but
they have pictures and images
that teens can relate to and
enjoy. So you get the
combination of the words and
the images that help pick up on
the power of images in teens'
lives."
~ Maurice Freedman, President
American Library Association
What are Graphic
Novels?
Will Eisner who initiated
the term graphic novels,
said they are “Sequential
Art…the arrangement of
pictures or images and
words to narrate a story
or dramatise an idea.”
What are Graphic
Novels?
Keith R. A. DeCandido, an
international best-selling
author, defined a graphic
novel as “a self contained
story that uses a
combination of text and
art to articulate the plot.”
Middle
What are Graphic
Novels?
Diamond Comics defines graphic novels:
A comic book that is longer in
format than a pamphlet, and
typically contains a complete story
unto itself. Graphic novels usually
have higher production values than
the typical stapled comic book – they
may be squarebound, for example,
with cardstock covers. Some may be
hardcover volumes. Although a
graphic novel usually stands on its
own as a complete story, it is
possible to have a ongoing series or
limited series of graphic novels
telling a single story or series of
related stories.
High
What are Graphic
Novels?
ALA RUSA Codes Materials Reviewing
Committee defines graphic novels as:
Books created in the format
recognized as graphic novels are
presented in sequential art, with the
requirement upon creator and reader
to work between image and word for a
full understanding of narrative content.
Such books usually include a structure
of panels. For review purposes, graphic
novels include independently conceived
full-length narratives, bound volumes
of longer sequential art series, and
collections of works as brief as comic
strips.
Middle
Genres of Graphic
Novels
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Superhero
Fantasy
Science fiction
Historical
Action/Adventure
Realistic Fiction
Biography
Adaptations of classics
Manga (Japanese comics)
Humor
Horror
Romance
Political commentary
Middle
Types of Graphic
Novels
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Human Interest Story
Adaptations or Spin-offs
Satire (Cartoon Journalism)
Nonfiction
Superhero
Manga
Middle
Milestones
1837
• The Adventures of
Obadiah Oldbuck —
earliest known comic
book
Milestones
1897
• The Yellow Kid in
McFadden’s Flats coined
the phrase, “comic book”
• Beginning of the
Platinum Age
Milestones
1934
• Famous Funnies #1
Milestones
1939
• Jerry Siegel and Joe
Schuster create
Superman, one of the
first modern
superheroes
• Begins the Golden Age
of Comics
Milestones
1954
• Dr. Frederic Wertham
published Seduction of
the Innocent,
condemning comic books
as a negative influence
on young children
Milestones
1954
• US Senate investigates
the relationship
between comic books
and juvenile delinquency
Milestones
1954
• Comics Code Authority
(analogous to
Hollywood’s Code, but
far stricter)
Milestones
1956
• The Silver Age of
Comics begins
Milestones
1961
• Marvel publishes
Fantastic Four #1
Milestones
1978
• Will Eisner writes 1st
graphic novel, A
Contract with God and
Other Tenement Stories
High
Milestones
1992
• Art Spiegelman, won the
Pulitzer Prize for his
1986 Maus I, an
examination of the
Holocaust
Middle/High
Milestones
1997
• Doug Murray, won the
Best Media of the
Vietnam War Award
from the Bravo
Organization for ‘The
Nam
Middle/High
Milestones
2000
• In November The New
York Times Book
Review includes a
review of four graphic
novels
Milestones
2001
• Chris Ware’s graphic
novel, Jimmy Corrigan,
won Britain’s Guardian
First Book Award
Milestones
2002
• The American
Library
Association's 2002
Teen Read Week
theme was Getting
Graphic @ Your
Library
Milestones
2002
• C.O.M.I.C.S. (Challenging
Objective Minds: An
Instructional Comicbook
Series), by Dan Tandarich
with the New York City
Comic Book Museum, is
developed to teach reading
and writing skills
Milestones
2002
• First Annual Free Comic
Book Day
Urban Legends of
Graphic Novels
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Nudity
Sex and innuendo
Excessive violence
Sexist
Inappropriate language
Crude humor
Frivolous entertainment
Short on redeeming social, educational,
or moral value
• Typically written at a fourth to sixth
grade reading level
• Hinders literacy development
Adult
What Does the
Research Say?
In 1981, Lee Dorrell and Ed
Carroll performed a study in
which the mere presence of
comic books in a collection
increased library use 82%,
with a 30% increase in the
circulation of non-comic book
material.
Middle
What Does the
Research Say?
In a study of "rare words per
1000," D. P. Hayes & M. G. Ahrens
(1988) showed that the oral
language of college graduates as
the low—17.3 rare words per
1000, and the abstracts of
scientific articles as the high—
128 rare words per 1000 and
comic books introduced more new
words than did adult books (53.5
vs. 52.7).
High
What Does the
Research Say?
A 1992 study of more than
200,000 students from 32
countries revealed that
Finland, the nation with the
highest proportion of comic
book reading students (nearly
60%), also had the highest
literacy rate (99%), as well as
the highest library usage.
Elementary
What Does the
Research Say?
Stephen Krashen reported
(1993) that research showed
graphic novels are
linguistically appropriate and
bear no negative impact on
language acquisition, and, in
fact, light reading (e.g.,
graphic novels) positively
correlated with achievement.
Middle
What Does the
Research Say?
In a 1993 study in the
Journal of Child Language,
researchers concluded that
the average comic book
introduced kids to twice as
many words as the average
children’s book, and five
times as many words as
they were likely to be
exposed to in the average
child-adult conversation.
Middle
What Does the
Research Say?
M. R. Lavin (1998)
suggested that reading
graphic novels may require
more complex cognitive
skills than the reading of
text alone.
High
What Does the
Research Say?
Sherry Kerr and T. H. Culhane
(2000) concluded that
children who grow up with
comic books often seem to
have a better vocabulary and
understanding of how to use
verb tenses than those who,
all other things being equal, do
not read comics.
Middle
What Does the
Research Say?
M. W. Smith and J. D
Wilhelm (2002) reported
that boys in particular
gravitated toward reading
materials that were highly
visual.
Middle
What Does the
Research Say?
Tabitha Simmons (2003)
reported that in a graphic
novel, readers must not only
decode the words and the
illustrations, but must also
identify events between the
visual sequences.
Elementary
What Does the
Research Say?
Robyn Hill (2004) concluded that
reading comic books may help to
(among others):
– develop an increased interest in
reading
– develop language skills and a
rich and varied vocabulary
– foster interest in a variety of
literary genres
Teachers
What Do
Librarians Say?
Steve Weiner, a
Massachusetts librarian,
saw his circulation jump 42%
the first year he added
superhero comics to his
collection.
Middle/High
What Do
Librarians Say?
Sharon Richert said her
Florida high school library
Fiction section doubled in
circulation and in one
fifteen day span circulated
almost 1,000 graphic novels.
What Do
Librarians Say?
Francisca Goldsmith, the
Collection Management and
Promotion Librarian at
Berkeley Public Library, said,
“Some reluctant readers will
gladly pick up a graphic novel
over a typical novel and since
the illustrations support the
text, graphic novels also help
encourage literacy.”
Middle
What Do
Librarians Say?
Middle school librarians,
Larry Dorrell and Ed Carroll,
noted at the conclusion of a
study in Missouri that,
“Library traffic experienced
an immediate and lasting
change after the
introduction of comic books
into the school library.“
Middle
What Do
Librarians Say?
Allyson A. W. Lyga, a Maryland
elementary media specialist
said, “Since I started stocking
our school library with graphic
novels six years ago, I’ve
discovered that kids love them.
Our collection, for students in
kindergarten through fifth
grade, now has around 125
graphic novels, and they’re by
far our most heavily circulated
items.”
Elementary
The Appeal of
Graphic Novels
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Motivating
Visual
Permanent
Intermediary
Popular
High
How Can They
Be Used?
Literary Devices
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Setting
Plot
Character development
Allusion
Allegory
Foreshadowing
Irony
Satire
Stereotyping
Flashback
Metaphor
Symbolism
Imagery
Middle/High
How Can They
Be Used?
Examine and Compare
Cultural Knowledge
• social roles and conventions
• power structures
• formal and informal
communication styles
• dress
• mannerisms
• values
• stereotypes
Middle
Curricula Focus
Cultural Issues
• The Four Immigrants Manga
– Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama, 1999
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Cultural Issues
• Still I Rise
– Roland Owen Laird, Taneshia
Nash Laird, & Elihu Bey, 1997
Middle
Curricula Focus
Cultural Issues
• 2024
– Ted Rall, 2001
High
Curricula Focus
Cultural Issues
• Stuck Rubber Baby
– Howard Cruse, 1995
High
Curricula Focus
Math
• The Cartoon Guide
to Statistics
– Larry Gonick & Wollcutt Smith,
1993
High
Curricula Focus
Math
• Prof. E McSquared's
Calculus Primer: Expanded
Intergalactic Version
– Howard Swann & John
Johnson, 2002
High
Curricula Focus
Math
• Math Game 1
• Math Game 2
• Math Game 3
– Tori Jung, 2005
Middle
Curricula Focus
Science
• The Cartoon Guide to
Genetics
– Larry Gonick & Mark
Wheelies, 1991
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Science
• The Cartoon Guide to
Physics
– Larry Gonick & Art Huffman,
1991
High
Curricula Focus
Science
• The Cartoon Guide to the
Environment
– Larry Gonick and Alice
Outwater, 1996
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Science
• The Cartoon Guide to
Chemistry
– Larry Gonick and Craig
Criddle , 2005
High
Curricula Focus
Science
• Dignifying Science: Stories
About Women
– Jim Ottaviani, 2000
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Science
• Clan Apis
– Jay Hosler, 2000
Middle
Curricula Focus
Science
• Two-fisted Science:
Stories About Scientists
– Jim Ottaviani, 2001
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Science
• Fallout
– Jim Ottaviani, 2001
High
Curricula Focus
Science
• The Sandwalk Adventures
– Jay Hosler, 2003
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Social Issues
• I Think I Was An
Alcoholic…
– John Callahan, 1993
High
Curricula Focus
Social Issues
• Our Cancer Year
– Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner,
& Frank Stack, 1994
High
Curricula Focus
Social Issues
• The Tale of One Bad Rat
– Brian Talbot, 1995
Middle/High
Curricula Focus
Social Issues
• The Amazing “True” Story
of a Teenage Single Mom
– Katherine Arnoldi,
1998
High
Curricula Focus
Social Issues
• Pedro and Me: Friendship,
Loss, and What I Learned
– Judd Winick, 2000
High
Graphic Novels
Help Students:
• Develop an increased interest in
reading
• Increase literacy in the broad
sense of the word
• Develop language skills and a
rich and varied vocabulary
• Foster interest in a variety of
literary genres
• Foster interest in a broad range
of topics
Elementary
Graphic Novels
Help Students:
• Stimulate a creative imagination
• Develop an appreciation of art
• Develop the ability to discuss
and critique art and writing
• Increase understanding of how
meaning is found in visual
phenomena
• Enhance understanding of
popular culture and other media
Middle/High
Questions To Ask
Before Purchasing a
Graphic Novel:
• Is the book physically well
produced and attractive?
• Is the storyline coherent,
imaginative, interesting
and well written?
• Is the language accessible
and appropriate?
Middle/High
Questions To Ask
Before Purchasing a
Graphic Novel:
• Does the cover illustration
do justice to the material
inside?
• Are the words and
pictures interdependent?
• Does the book treat race,
gender, and social class
positively?
Middle
Questions To Ask
Before Purchasing a
Graphic Novel:
• Is violence part of the
nature of the story or is it
gratuitous?
• Is the text legible or is it
obscures by illustrative
matter, making it difficult
to read?
Middle/High
Questions To Ask
Before Purchasing a
Graphic Novel:
• Do the illustrations
provide a subtle
commentary on the printed
word and move the story
forward?
• Are the illustrations of
high standard, both
artistically and
technically?
Middle
Caveat
Jacquie McTaggart
reminds us that it “is
important to understand
that comics should
supplement a balanced
literacy program, not
replace.”
Middle
Additional
Resources
Recommendations for Your Collection
• No Flying, No Tights
– http://www.noflyingnotights.com/
• Graphic Novels Guru
– http://www.graphicnovelguru.com/titles.html
• Comic Books for Young Adults
– http://ublib.buffalo.edu/lml/comics/pages/recommended.html
• Recommended Graphic Novels for Public
Libraries
– http://my.voyager.net/~sraiteri/graphicnovels.htm
Additional
Resources
Professional Journals that
Review Graphic Novels
• Voice of Youth Advocates
– http://www.voya.com/
• School Library Journal
– http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/index.asp
• Publisher’s Weekly
– http://www.publishersweekly.com/
• Library Journal
– http://www.libraryjournal.com/
Additional
Resources
Reference Books
• The 101 Best Graphic Novels
– Stephen Weiner, 2001
• Getting Graphic! Using Graphic Novels to
Promote Literacy with Preteens and Teens
– Michelle Gorman, 2003
• Graphic Novels in Your Media Center
– Allyson A. W. Lyga, 2004
• Developing and Promoting Graphic Novels
– Steve Miller, 2005
Additional
Resources
Other Sites Not to Miss
• What Parents/Teens/Teachers & Librarians
Want to Know About Comics & Graphic Novels
– http://www.informationgoddess.ca/Comics&GraphicNovels/index.htm
• Graphic Novels in Libraries
– http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/graphicnovels.asp
• Diamond Bookshelf
– http://bookshelf.diamondcomics.com/
• The Secret Origin of Good Readers: A Resource
Book
– http://www.night-flight.com/secretorigin/SOGR2004.pdf
Graphic Novels in
Your Classroom?
I Hope So!
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Graphic Novels in My Classroom?