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 • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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 • • • • • • 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 • • • • • • • • 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 • • • • • Motivating Visual Permanent Intermediary Popular High How Can They Be Used? Literary Devices • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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!