Introducing graphic novels into schools

Graphic novels as educational heavyweights by jonathan seyfried [email protected]


This article can be found at this link:


The study took place at Brandies Hillel day school in America and it was middle school students around 12 years old.


In the opening paragraph jonathan states ‘ trying to impart the joy of a good read to middle school students feels like pushing religion onto the perfectly content worshippers of american idol.’ But then he goes on to say ‘ Yet, almost as if responding to a distress call, a new type of book has come onto the scene: graphic novel.’

He also claims that graphic novels have turned into ‘heavyweight in the teaching of advanced themes in literature and visual literacy.’


He says he had to navigate a tricky line when selecting the graphic novels which he would let the students read in a library sponsored book club called ‘ graphic novel book group elective’ but he gained the respect of the students by choosing a graphic novel called ‘persepolis’ which contained violent imagery in a cartoonish style. He says because the students felt trusted with the mature themes there was a ‘greater investment in the class’.


Jonathan mentions a july 11, 2004 issue of the new york times magazine. Which he says is chester brown drew a 9 panel interview between a journalist and a graphic novelist. Brown is the graphic novelist and he’s defending himself against the accusation that his medium is ‘just comic books’. Chester Browns argument is ‘ the scope for telling stories of greater complexity and depth is increased’. (Brown 2004, cover).


He goes on to discus a book from ‘McClouds understanding comics and its companion making comics’. These are comic books which are illustrated that way but tell the story of storytelling and how graphic novels can work, he has 5 key principles to work to these are ‘Choice of moment, choice of frame, choice of image, choice of word and choice of flow’.


The discussion in this article goes onto breaking down graphic novels and seeing how these principles are used in the graphic novels which they are reading, one of them in ‘american born chinese’ he explains that even though this is a complicated story to follow with 3 stories being told simultaneously he claims that students where able to follow them successfully and when he explained and encouraged them to read the graphic novel slowly he found the students retained a lot more information and also found that the students where coming to class rereading the book twice. He explains that ‘ successful readers of graphic novels learn that rereading and slow reading support close observation, a necessary skill of visual literacy’.


In the conclusion to this article, Jonathan explains that he has found ‘middle school students are ready to engage with intense emotions, emotions that they are themselves experiencing for the first time’. He then goes go on say ‘ My students crave stories that they can relate to, written in a language they can understand, with jokes they can get, and metaphors that are clear to them’.


After reading this article It has backed up my thoughts on doing a more mature ‘comic book’ but also has given me a lot to think about in regards to graphic novels. They might take me longer to illustrate and write but they could once complete impact a dyslexic students reading life and encourage them to read more and also try harder books.



Posted in: