SG High School is a Title I school. My students come from diverse racial, national, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds. Some of them are academically gifted and enthusiastic about learning, a few are just hoping to make it through the day, but all of them have something to say!
In our class, we explore the world and our place in it through reading and writing.
We read and write every single day because reading and writing are the foundations of learning. We aim to read like writers and to use the authors we read as mentors for our own writing.
Our school works hard to meet the needs of all students, but funding is sometimes an issue. We often lack sufficient resources and up-to-date technology to support our students' development into future college students and career employees.
In our classroom, independent reading is part of our daily routine. My students spend up to one-third of the class time every day reading independently from books that they have chosen. We have a modest classroom library from which students can select books. These books represent a wide range of reading levels, topics, and genres, but one very popular genre is not well represented at all: graphic novels. We have a small collection of very short graphic texts for the lower reading levels, but our classroom library does not include a single graphic novel on my students' grade level.
My class LOVES graphic novels; it's the one genre that nearly every student gets excited to read.
Now, I know some of you might be rolling your eyes at that. "But that's not real reading!" you might be saying. Au contraire, my skeptical friends. Graphic novels are not only real reading, but can be rigorous reading as well. Graphic novels are not just comic books; they are works of literary and artistic value that deserve attentive, active reading. There are many excellent graphic novels and memoirs written for high school and adult readers. Graphic novels provide the perfect starting point for visual literacy development. There are also many excellent illustrated informational texts that make complex historical and scientific topics accessible to all readers.
Beyond the rigorous learning opportunities previously mentioned, graphic novels also meet an important need in my classroom. There is a significant literacy gap in two of my classes, including many English language learners, students with learning disabilities, and students from poverty. Graphic novels provide the support for reading comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and literary skill development. In a graphic novel, students can engage with complex, age-appropriate themes on a level that they can comprehend.
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