Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Value of Graphic Novels

      Imagine, that you have taken a foreign language class for only one year when your teacher hands you a novel in this new language and expects you to read it both aloud, and at home for homework. Plus, your teacher expects you to keep a journal on it in your new language, as well as discuss it in class groups, and take tests on it! This is what reading is like for countless numbers of children who have learning disabilities, dyslexia, or a multitude of other academic challenges. Children with out any academic challenges also disengage because today's youth are living in a hyper-visual culture where pictures and graphics speak volumes to them.  In the end the student may comprehend parts of the novel words and pictures here and there but the overall reading experience will be laborious, frustrating, and confusing.
      What are graphic novels, you ask?  First, lets be clear, graphic novels are not comic books! Comic books are periodicals. Comic books are printed on a monthly basis and the storyline continues from one edition to the next. Graphic novels on the other hand, are full length books. The commonality between comic books and graphic novels are the illustrations and presentation of the written word. Graphic novels dive deeply into the plot and character development. Like  novels, graphic novels tell the whole story from beginning to end. 
     As a special educator and literacy specialist, graphic novels get my seal of approval. Last year, the sixth graders in my school district read the novel, The Lightening Thief, written by Rick Riordan. Students with reading disabilities read it along side of their peers confidently in English class.  They were confident because in their resource room, they read, The Lightening Thief  by Rick Riordan's graphic novel. The graphic novel gave these children peace of mind because the text was less cumbersome yet provided them with the same storyline, plot, and characters as the full-length novel. Using a combination of texts made reading comprehension more explicit for these learners. They were able to delve deep into the context of the novel with out frustration. Using a visual learning approach added the needed diversity that these students needed to move ahead and to become engaged. So, graphic novels no longer need to be an underground commodity. They can also be used as a very appropriate learning tool in reading comprehension.

Daily Parent Links:

Why Older Kids and Adults Need Picture Books and Graphic Novels

Daily Educator Links:

Using Graphic Novels in the ELT Classroom

Third Grade Math Routines (That can be adapted for other grades-good teaching)

Book Review:

     Today's book review is on a graphic novel written by Rave Mehta, titled The Inventor, The Story of Tesla.  It is a nonfiction graphic novel based on the true story of Nikola Tesla while he competed with his mentor who became his rival, Thomas Edison.  Tesla lived in a time during the Industrial revolution when inventors were known as wizards and corporations were thought of as kingdoms.  J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Marconi, Westinghouse,Henry Ford, and Nikola Tessla to name a few, were the supreme wizards in the world of inventions. Tesla went up against the big wigs of industry and forever changed the world with his mind, drive, passion, and want for a better human existence. He catalyzed the second electrical revolution. He was left penniless by allowing others to build their fortunes off of his inventions. Until Rave Mehta brought him back, Nikola Tesla was all but forgotten. 
     Rave Mehta uses a visual learning approach to engage the hyper-visual culture in today's society. He gives Nikola Tesla an edgy steam-punk look to draw in readers. Mehta hopes to light the fire in students to get them interested in STEM learning. It is my hope, that Mehta continues with the Inventors Series to bring more inventors into the limelight. 
"I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything."~Nikola Tessla

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