Main Entry: graphic novel

Function: noun

Date: 1978

: a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book

  • Graphic novels use symbols and pictures to tell stories.
  • When we read graphic novels we are using different parts of our brains.

I recently took my students to the MS Library for their weekly “book talk” with our librarian, Mr. Peter Giordano. Each week, I am always curious to see what tidbits of information “Mr. G” has up his sleeve to share with the students {and me}.  As is the case each week, we have a predetermined topic to discuss – generally focused on a quarterly reading genre or unit of study. This week’s topic – Graphic Novels.  Once again, I was not disappointed by Mr. G’s informative and engaging presentation. This issue for many is simple – what is a graphic novel? (see definition above)  Additionally, what, if any, value do graphic novels provide young readers?  The answer is simple – graphic novels are an invaluable asset.  More precisely, we naturally assign meaning and value to the things we see.  Therefore, graphics/pictures in conjunction with a story provides the reader the ability to have an even deeper understanding of the message or information being communicated.  Graphic novels assist young readers in negotiating meaning by “placing them at the scene” through words and through pictures.  When we read graphic novels, we use different parts of our brains to connect our understanding and assess meaning.  When working in any learning environment, this type of tool becomes extremely beneficial. However, let’s not falsely assume that graphics and pictures are only for our young learners.  Pictures and symbols have been used for thousands of years to communicate a variety of messages:

I for one have become a huge advocate for graphic novels – if used in moderation.