Researching the Tintin Effect: How Can the Active Promotion of Graphic Novels Support and Enhance Boys' Enthusiasm for Leisure Reading?

By Bunn, Val | School Librarian, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Researching the Tintin Effect: How Can the Active Promotion of Graphic Novels Support and Enhance Boys' Enthusiasm for Leisure Reading?


Bunn, Val, School Librarian


An action research project was triggered by my hunch that graphic novels have become more popular since a volume of Herge's Adventures of Tintin was selected as the Whole School Book in 2009. This is an annual event at Loughborough Grammar School wherein the same book is distributed to all the boys in the summer term. The library is closely involved with this promotion.

As the borrowing and browsing of graphic novels increased significantly after this event, it seemed appropriate to test the assumption that strategically promoting graphic novels would stimulate more boys to read for pleasure. Hence, I was encouraged, with the support of the Headmaster, the Head of Sixth Form and the Head of English, to investigate what I called the 'Tintin effect' and the impact graphic novels could have on boys' enthusiasm for leisure reading.

Library sessions were booked over a five-week period, including a visit from Dave Shelton, author of the graphic novel, Good Dog, Bad Dog, which was arranged for week three. Prior to this, I undertook a major review of the graphic novel provision in the library. I extended the graphic novel shelving, purchased new stock, put up new posters which were designed to advertise the graphic novels in the collection and strategically placed new seating cubes nearby. As well as this, I re-categorised the graphic novels along genre and publisher lines, for example DC, Marvel and European graphic novels were grouped separately. I also devoted three shelves to displays of new and eye-catching stock.

Context of Research

Loughborough Grammar School is an academic independent school of over 1,000 boys aged 10-18 years. There is a strong reading culture in school. Junior fiction is particularly popular, with Years 6-9 reading five times more fiction than Years 10-11. Loan statistics show that reading decreases in Year 9. These statistics also reflect that Year 9 are borrowing more graphic novels than the younger boys.

Participants

The sample was a group of 22 Year 8 boys, aged 12-13, chosen by the Head of English. They were a mixed ability group with English as their first language. During the previous year their loan statistics showed that they had read 185 books between them, including 41 graphic novels. Three of the boys had no loans at all.

Research Method

I found the interpretative nature of action research particularly relevant and I used the 'I wonder what would happen if' approach, suggested by McNiff (2010). Qualitative techniques were mainly employed to explore the research topic using questionnaires, videos, photographs, participant reflections and field notes to give some measure of triangulation. In addition, I maintained a journal detailing the experience of action research and my observations made during the process. I also used data from loan statistics. The data analysis was manual and I looked for patterns and themes within the data.

Data Collection

As there were only 22 in the focus group, I was able to use a variety of data collection methods, both qualitative and quantitative. A questionnaire was given to each boy during the first and final library session of the research project; the same questions were asked so that reliable comparisons could be made. There was room for brief comments as well thereby allowing the boys' voices to be used as authentic data.

The library visits were filmed and photographs were taken so that any changes in behavioural patterns could be noted. Dave Shelton's talk, which included a question and answer session, was similarly observed. The boys were all asked for written reflections regarding the question 'What did you think of the author visit?'

The quantitative data was derived from each participant's borrowing record from September to December which provided specific evidence regarding any increase in their leisure reading. In addition, the 'Top 100 Loans' for the same period showed the impact of the graphic novel promotion on boys' reading throughout the school. …

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