Graphic readers are a format of a book, just like an audio or digital book. If your child wants to read a book that is a graphic reader please let them do so. It is real reading! Graphic novels have all the elements of a story: characters, plot, conflict, and solution. The reader is required […]Graphic Readers
I have made it, everyone, a full year of Tuesdays and looking at another March Challenge as I write this final-Tuesday post. It was not a decision taken lightly to commit to writing each and every Tuesday on the heels of March 31, 2022.
I am an all-or-nothing girl. When I commit, I commit. My husband jokes that that is what has gotten through these past 38 years together, that and the fact that I never want to admit I’m wrong.
Today I had an array of thoughts to explore here on this momentous day, but I decided to review drafts stored in the “Posts” on my site since the beginning. I found this from March 2019 and picked, a spin-the-bottle choice.
The Oregon Council of Teachers of English (OCTE) runs a book club twice a year. We use a classroom-ready text in winter, last year it was Kim Johnson’s This Is My America for example, when everyone could use lighter fare. This year we selected graphic literature, two examples, for our four-week long exploration: Displacement by Kiku Hughes; and Victory! Stand.Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes and Dawud Anyabwile.
We have had a difficult time enlisting a crew of adult readers to be honest, but those few of us who’ve engaged with these graphic texts have benefited greatly. Initially, I was not a fan of the graphic format. To be honest, I don’t think I knew how to read them well. It was a student, a wonderful, quirky eighth grader who set me straight.
I sidled up to Taylor for a reading conference about a decade ago and opened with my standard, “So, how’s it going?” He was reading one of Brian Selznick’s stunning novels, Wonderstruck. Do you know it? Kids were inhaling Selznick after the movie of The Invention of Hugo Cabret came out.
He began telling me about what he loved, focusing on the art rather than the words. I tried to deter him, directing him towards the text. Then he asked, “Ms. Emerson, don’t you read the pictures? You need to slow down.” There was no malice in those word, words I have heard so often in so many contexts, just sheer appreciation for the power of slow, an understanding that reading layers is essential when reading a graphic format.
So…slow. I have devised my reading protocol for graphic reading, and I share it with any student who’s interested; it’s my process. Interestingly, it is the strategy used by several of the adults in this OCTE book club. I gobble the text first, my habit and the way I was taught, and then I go back and read the art. (It takes longer!) I have learned how to read and appreciate the affordances of this literature format.
Within the format lies a wealth of genres, opportunities for exploring fiction and non-fiction, from memoir to dystopia to fantasy. Craft moves, mentor text moments abound. The two we’ve been plumbing lean toward the memoir while Hughes’ has an element of fantasy that is deftly handled to bring the history and emotional impact of Japanese internment to readers of all ages. Tommie Smith’s story is worthwhile for anyone and everyone.
I hope that I am not alone in my awakening; I hope Taylor’s words echo for everyone. I finally get the bigger picture: WE WANT READERS and THINKERS.