In the summer, it often takes some cajoling to get students to practice reading. Thankfully, graphic novels are still having a moment—and there are literally thousands of choices for readers of all ages. While some teachers may turn up their noses at these illustrated books, we love any reading that students do. Here are some reasons we herald the graphic novel:
They are good supports for students with specific reading challenges. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity refers to graphic novels as “equalizers,”(1) noting that struggling and strong readers alike can enjoy and discuss them on a level playing field. For students with dyslexia, the illustrations provide context clues and the manageable format and length foster a feeling of accomplishment in completing a book. Graphic novels also support English language learners by making vocabulary and complex content more accessible.
They are enticing and engaging for readers of all levels. “They don’t feel like reading,” explains a fourth grader. “They feel like going to the movies. I can read them all day.” Enough said.
There are so many options. We have seen a wide variety of selections join the market since the early days of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so students of all ages are bound to find a book to love.
Here are some to consider:
Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal and Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they discover the whole wide ocean together. This is the first in a series of fun books.
A timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where the struggle to fit in is real. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
Author and illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age in this graphic novel memoir. She describes her experiences with the Phonic Ear, a powerful but awkward hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear, but it also isolates her from her classmates. She just wants to fit in and find a true friend who can appreciate her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” More importantly, she can find the friend she has longed for.
Priyanka is a teenage girl who loves to draw. Her mother emigrated from India years ago, leaving Pri’s father behind. Pri is eager to learn about her father and her Indian heritage, but her mother refuses to discuss the subject. Then Pri finds an old pashmina in her mother’s suitcase, and when she puts it on, she is magically transported to the India of her dreams.
Harper Lee’s classic remains as important today as it was upon its initial publication in 1960, during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights movement. Lifetime admirers and new readers alike will be touched by this special visual edition.