"Graphic Novels Are Real Books": Comparing Graphic Novels to Traditional Text Novels

By Richardson, Eileen M. | Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

"Graphic Novels Are Real Books": Comparing Graphic Novels to Traditional Text Novels


Richardson, Eileen M., Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin


Many parents and teachers complain about how difficult it is to get children to read. When I taught reading at the elementary and high school levels, my classroom libraries had plenty of graphic novels, comic books, and laminated funny pages for students to read in all genres. During Drop Everything and Read time, several students would ask if reading a comic book still "counted," and my reaction was, "Of course, it counts; you're still reading, right?" Nevertheless, I have not found any studies that have compared the comprehension levels required for a graphic novel to those required for a traditional text. With Common Core State Standards (CCSS), teacher evaluations, and research-based instruction at the forefront of instruction, how does the graphic novel compare to a traditional text when discussing required comprehension and reading ability? First and foremost, students need to read to improve their reading. The dilemma of a struggling reader is finding books he or she enjoys reading, and, similarly, the dilemma of a teacher of a struggling reader is to get the young person to read so he or she improves. As a reading teacher, I know that graphic novels help motivate struggling readers to read.

Graphic Novels in the Classroom

Contemporary graphic novels are designed for a new generation of young, emerging readers who are growing up in a very automated and visual environment (Rapp, 2011). Graphic novels are more than just stories with pictures; they have engaging illustrations that help readers infer the emotions and motivations of characters as well as more fully understand the twists and turns within the plot. Comics and graphic novels help introduce the reader to important features of fiction, such as narrative structure, tone, and character development (Schwarz, 2002). Nonfiction graphic novels and comics provide the reader with robust vocabulary, and the graphics help provide context clues to help readers with the more difficult words (Clark, 2013).

Although many people still consider the graphic novel unfit for school reading (Schwarz, 2006), the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) in 2006 teamed up with Diamond Comic Distributors and implemented a program making graphic-novelbased lesson plans available to K-12 teachers throughout the state. The MSDE's goal was to develop instructional strategies that encouraged reluctant readers to read more and gifted and talented students to gain in knowledge and creativity by conceiving and writing manuscripts for their comic books (Bitz, 2004). In this vein, Stouse (2003) noted that the educational community has come to recognize that comic books and graphic novels are excellent instructional tools for the classroom. Similarly, Cullinan (2000) found that avid comic book readers read overall more than traditional book readers and had more positive attitudes toward reading.

In 2001, Columbia University professor Michael Bitz founded The Comic Book Project, the goal of which is to engage children in the process of creating comic books. Bitz believed that struggling readers are especially engaged while reading comic books and the experience helps them reconnect with learning and embrace the power of communication through words, art, storytelling, and publishing (Bitz, 2004).

Another creative educator, Gene Yang (2008), drew comic math lessons for his students to follow when he needed to be away and had a substitute teacher. The students overwhelmingly loved the lessons because they constituted visual notes that helped really explain the mathematical process Yang was teaching. In fact, Yang was one of the first to write an article in graphic-novel format that was published in Language Arts journal, solidifying his point by taking the reader visually through the process (Yang, 2008).

Choice is Motivation

Motivation to read is key in helping students overcome their resistance to reading and increase their reading skills (Gambrell, 2011). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

"Graphic Novels Are Real Books": Comparing Graphic Novels to Traditional Text Novels
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.