After attending the NFRC Winter Brunch at Classics V (East Amherst, NY) on February 12th, and listening to presenter Britt White, from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, my mind has been trying to wrap my head around the idea of integrating graphic novels into my instruction. As a Reading Specialist, I am in constant contact with struggling readers, and according to Britt White, research has shown that graphic novels and comics, as literacy medium, is one way to motivate those struggling readers to read. I guess I fall in the category of people who wrongly assume all graphic novels are dark, scary, and filled with superheroes on a vengeance. Britt provided us with a great list of grade-appropriate graphic novels that are actually fun and not-so-dark (e.g., Magic Pickle Graphic Novel). She shared a great website for educators, students, and parents: Toon Books. Toon Books is a company I’ve heard of but never fully explored; it is an award-winning educational book publisher (an imprint of Candlewick Press) that provides a plethora of easy-to-read comics for emergent readers at three different levels. It also has a variety of comic-related activities on their website for the students to interact with and learn from. Who knew?!
I love the idea of students creating comics to show their understanding of a text or to write just for fun (e.g., using Make Beliefs Comix, Read.Write.Think Comic Creator, Strip Creator, Toon Books Cartoon Maker), but I never was truly comfortable in using graphic novels as instructional reading material. I’ve explored one or two printable graphic books through Scholastic to supplement my instruction, but never actually used them. I also just ordered a few historical-based graphic novels for the school book room because of the growing popularity among students, but again, haven’t yet used them. I am excited to integrate this new medium of “multi-source information fusion” in an attempt toward making my instruction and students more media literate. Let the exploration of 21st century literacy continue!