What Every Teacher Should Know When Teaching with Graphic Novels

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Taking Children’s Learning a Level Higher Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom

Graphic novels may be considered as lengthy versions of comic books. The notion that graphic novels are not appropriate for serious reading exercise has been long forgotten. In fact, the excellent graphic novels nowadays demand similar skills that are required in understanding traditional novels. Many teachers have recognized the significant contribution of integrating graphic novels to their curriculum.

teaching with graphic novels

Using graphic novels in the classroom has a number of benefits that improve and enrich the learning process of students. While there are definitely lessons that can be imparted from graphic novels, there are other valuable ways of utilizing its purpose as an educational literary form. They are as follows:

  • Differentiate instruction. The first advantage of using graphic novels for young learners is to differentiate instruction. You can use graphic novels and comics to differentiate instruction for reading, as well as for assessment. You can provide your students with a graphic novel to guide their reading of a chapter in an uncompromising text.
  • Develop critical reading skills. Another benefit of using graphic novels for kids is it can build critical reading skills. Graphic novels use a combination of words and pictures in a sequence, which is different from an illustrated novel or a picture book. They foster active engagement of readers in decoding and understanding a wide range of literary devices, like metaphor, narrative structures, and symbolism. Its format, which usually includes images, text, word balloons, and sound effects, also engenders creative imagination.
  • Examine the genre. Graphic novels have the distinguishing characteristic of containing both words and pictures. You can ask your students to read and understand both features. In a way, they are analyzing the information conveyed in both texts and images. Since they are literary works that are in a cinematic style, you may also start a discussion with them contrasting these forms.
  • Study literary elements. Many of the basic elements that are present in traditional literature can also be found in graphic novels. Essential elements, such as plot, characterization, and symbolism, do not only exist in graphic novels, but are also modified like creating compelling characters of heroes and villains. Thus, it is safe to say that putting pictures in a graphic novel does not diminish its literary value.

Here are some of the best graphic novels that have been used by teachers:

1. Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic written by Hayes, Geoffrey. Illus. by Author. Toon, 2011.

Patrick the Teddy Bear is having a picnic with his mother, encounters a bully, and is tempted to take a nap. Like Amanda Pig, the characters of these stories are sweet, except when the bullying part shows. Geoffrey Hayes has written these cute stories for early readers, after winning the 2010 Geisel Award for Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!

2. Dinosaurs in Action written by Stilton, Geronimo. Illus. by Author. Papercutz, 2011.

Geronimo Stilton’s prose books center on the hesitant adventurer which have become favorites of grade-schoolers for decades. Written in sparse prose, young readers find his graphic novels easier to follow. Dinosaurs in Action is the seventh in the series, and tells about Pirate Cats trying to alter the course of history by sending Professor Volt back to the Cretaceous period. A rescue mission ensues with Geronimo and his friend facing a series of dangerous encounters with various dinosaurs.


best graphic novels

3. Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book written by Sturm, James, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost. Illus. by Authors. First Second, 2010.

This is an activity book that not only tells a story but also guides readers to learn the fundamentals of comic book drawing. The rain is pouring hard so Knight has to reset his playdate. Knight is very bored as the cable is knocked out and his parents have kept his video games out of reach. So Elf appears to show Knight how he can have fun drawing comics.

This book is perfect for aspiring comic-book artists.

4. Castle Waiting written by Medley, Linda, Vol. 2. Illus. by Author. Fantagraphics, 2010.

Nicely bound with rich, creamy paper, and neat black-and-white art, Castle Waiting is a charming and vivid fairy tale that has hooked younger teens and older kids. Its strength is its lovely story itself, slowly developing plots and fascinating characters, making it a perfect company for long summer hours. This second volume invigorates the past of the heroine, Jain, while featuring the daily adventures and playful tricks of the castle’s residents.

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