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  • Writer's pictureJudy

June 23, 2024: Confession- I Do Not Care for Graphic Novels

As a teacher, much of my summer reading list is filled with children’s literature.  At this point I am working my way through the new Sunshine State Books for next year.  These are the 15 books selected by the Florida Library Association for elementary students and they will be the basis for this year’s Battle of the Books competition.

 

         So far, I have read nine novels I absolutely adored, and two that were okay.  I must admit that there are two books on the list that are on my pile and I am having a hard time even picking them up.  That is because they are graphic novels.

 

         Yes, I realize that students LOVE graphic novels. I know that they are one of the most quickly growing genres in children’s lit, and I know that they are a fabulous way to hook reluctant or struggling readers onto books.

 

         Yet I just cannot get into them.

 

         Twenty years ago, when I first started teaching the Children’s Literature course at the University, graphic novel was not even an accepted genre yet.  It was looked at more as a sub-genre, or hybrid genre.  As it grew in popularity and acceptance, it began to get its own section in book stores, and its own criteria as a publishing genre.   Publishers and authors are even taking previously text-only books, like the Babysitters Club series, and turning them into graphic novels.

 

         When I add books to my class library, I now make sure to add to my graphic novel section as robustly as I add to my picture book or historical fiction section.  But I must admit, most of those books, I have not read. 

 

         As I struggled to pick up the graphic novels on my to-be-read-pile, I shared my reluctance with some of my on-line reading groups.  I was feeling very much like a failure in that I could not get passed my own biases and just start reading the books. I received some great tips, some recommendations, and some comments from those who commiserated with my feelings about graphic novels.

 

         In the end, it was a conversation I had with a student months ago, that solved the problem for me. It was one of my 5th graders who was perusing my bookshelf for a book to read. She picked up a graphic novel and had asked me what I thought of the book. Slightly embarrassed, I admitted that I did not read the book because I really did not care for graphic novels.

 

         “Oh, that’s okay, Mrs. Lindquist. Remember that you always say that there is a reason there are so many books out there.  That every book is not right for every reader. You just have to find the books that are right for you.”

 

         I love it when my students throw my own words back at me!




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