Graphic novels have come a long way since their debut, being embraced by kids, librarians, and many teachers. The stigma about graphic novels not being “real” books is (almost) gone. But are educators using graphic novels to their full potential? What literacy skills can be practiced and honed using graphic novels? Which books are best for which purposes? Who still needs to be convinced that graphic novels have a role in promoting literacy—and how?
As a follow up to our popular webinar “Not Just for Kids: How to Use Picture Books with Tweens and Teens,” we are hosting a powerhouse panel of experts—Betsy Bird, Shveta Miller, Susannah Richards, and Ted Anderson—who will discuss using graphic novels with all types of readers at all grade levels.
Are you taking full advantage of the skill-building potential provided by graphic novels? Join us to learn more about the benefits of using graphic novels, and come away with a recommended book list and strategies to employ right away.
You can access the resources referenced in this webinar at our website.
thank you all for coming today i'm rachel sexford i'm the vp of marketing here at learner publishing group um we are very excited to discuss graphic novels with our esteemed panelists betsy byrd is the collection development manager of the evanston public library and the former youth materials specialist at the new york public library she brought blogs frequently at the school library journal site a few's number eight production and reviews for kirkus and the new york times on occasion betsy is the author of the picture books giant dance party and the great santa stakeout she is a co-author on the very adult wild things acts of mischief in children's literature editor of the middle grade anthology of funny female writers funny girl and author of the middle grade novel long road to the circus illustrated by caldecott award-winning illustrator david small betsy hosts two podcasts story seeds which pairs kids and authors together to write stories and the very funny fews 8 and kate where she and her sister debate the relative merits of classic picture books you can follow her on twitter at fuse8 schwetta miller is the author of hacking graphic novels eight ways to teach higher level thinking with comics and visual storytelling published by times 10 publications in 2021 she taught high school english language arts in new york city public schools and at a few colleges throughout asia where she honed the process of teaching students how to critically read and craft texts of all kinds from tv sitcom scripts to graphic narratives and parodies of classic novels now a teacher leader and literacy specialist she presents nationally on research-based instructional practices and coaches teachers in their classrooms and online she advocates for teaching with comics and graphic novels through position as director of curriculum for reading with pictures the incoming vice president of the oregon state literacy association a board member for the portland reading council and through participation at conferences and comics festivals reach out to her on svedenmiller.com to connect and find her on twitter as at schwetta miller susannah richards is the associate professor at eastern state eastern connecticut state university where she teaches courses on literacy and literature for youth she's also a literacy and literature consultant who works with authors illustrators publishers teachers and librarians and has presented at hundreds of international national state local and district conferences she has been an advocate an advocate for all kinds of children and young adult literature for more than 30 years coordinating events moderating panels writing teacher guides and connecting teachers librarians parents and young people with books whenever possible follow her on twitter and instagram at sussingoutbooks ted anderson is a librarian educator and comics writer from minnesota his book the spy who raised me illustrated by gianna miola was published by learner publishing group's graphic universe imprint in 2021 where it was a minnesota book award finalist he has written licensed and creator-owned comics for multiple publishers including boom studios idw publishing and aftershock comics he lives in minneapolis with several plants and zero regrets and to the best of his knowledge he is not an internationally renowned spy and our moderator greg hunter is the editorial director of learner publishing group's graphic universe imprint and the acquiring editor of multiple eisner-nominated or star-reviewed graphic novels he is based in minneapolis minnesota and with that i will hand things over to greg all right thank you uh panelists and uh viewers both for joining us uh let's start today with a question that we could probably spend all hour talking about and might uh what is driving the popularity of graphic novels today oh my god uh there's so many different things the first place is it's part of the way the brain works we are wired for visual images and we know that cognitively and otherwise we've always been wired for visual images so there's so much to enjoy about graphic models in terms of visual images it's also where stimulus driven society as the world has gotten smaller and both um wider in terms of the internet and other things we're just constantly looking at and evaluating the visual stimulus that we have so the combination of text captions framing and visuals is just an explosive way to gather information and since graphic novels are a format not a genre as we all agree then there is just an enormous infinite amount of possibility with the graphic novel and so i started and i'm done oh it's good and i'll just pick that up and say it's always been the case we've always loved comics i mean there's never been a point where we haven't if the difference now is that a uh more people who are in charge aren't poo pooing them and writing books about how they're subverting the youth and turning them into juvenile delinquents and uh and then second there's more of them the publishers are actually finally beginning i'm just gonna say beginning to meet the need um whereas ten years ago when i had a kids book club at near public library a girl would come in every week so the book will be like where are all the new comics this week and i'll be like oh honey no no no so yeah it's always been the case it's also i mean they are starting to receive enough critical attention it's pretty cool in the academic sense and a recognition of the fact that yes you can tell engaging narratives yes you can engage students yes you can create forms or um forums for critical thinking you can you can engage the reader in all the same ways that you teach all these other lessons with comics just as you can with with prose um and in different ways and of course there are different tools that have to be applied to analyzing different media and so forth but the the fact that there is enough recognition that like oh yeah you can do this and it can still be a very serious worthy you know and gigantic bleeding air quotes they can be still a very you know worthy area of study is is also partly driving that is this recognition oh yeah comics can be smart now um yeah yeah and connected to that also with it the explosion happening in schools is part of that difference like betsy's saying you know it we've always enjoyed comic comics and visual storytelling um but part of the difference is that it's being brought into these other spheres like education and i think part of that is it sort of corresponded with this increase in narratives about our students not being readers about american students having these deficits in reading skills um and just more of this deficit mindset about things like this word gap that may or may not exist and um and and then that coupling with teachers actually seeing and librarians in schools actually seeing their kids piled up in front of the library aisle section with the comics and the graphic novels that the library media specialists at the district where i work with cannot keep up with the requests for manga series that the manga in our school district is the one format that is consistently always checked out the longest wait lists and teachers seeing that in their independent reading corner students are passing around the same torn up scholastic copies of rayna telgemeier's books with the pages falling out you know so i think there's this corresponding kind of jarring side by side narrative of our students don't read and then what we're seeing in the classrooms um and then that kind of fusing together for uh this real drive and need to um do what i think ted was talking about bring that that heft and uh and learning experience along with it well it was only a matter of time i think so reina talgemeyer came up uh we managed to do it within the first 10 minutes uh so i wanted to ask uh you all also um in terms of either personal favorites or or uh graphic novels of obvious recent historical importance uh which books really helped graphic novels gain acceptance in educator circles and what was it about them that changed minds um march is one of the ones that i've seen has obviously for a variety of reasons you've gotten immensely popular i mean partly because it's about the extremely important figure in american democracy um and just the the the the importance of that of that subject and of course also the excellent execution of it and therefore and all these other elements i mean that was a huge one we have 30 copies of that sitting in the in the back room that are used by the eighth grade english ela classes because that's i mean that's one where it's you know you have this combination of extremely important subject and extremely well executed book um that makes it really valuable in terms of recent vintage uh as a classroom text yeah this one oh good oh sorry um it's interesting because we forget like literally it's almost 30 years ago that the graphic novel was on the cover of the new york times magazine and other things and that talking about books like mouse and persepolis and the watchmen and other things like that which really were a little bit wider known than some of the manga the dc comics the marvel and you know some of the other things but the truth of the matter is that it's still taking a long time in certain venues for teachers and parents to realize that graphic novels have um so much content to offer i mean i just think of in one of the early first second graphic novels the photographer which was out about a doctor without borders and was just such an exceptional literally it was the only book for young people or older youth on doctors without borders and it presented itself as a graphic novel and was of course as equally valuable as anything that could have been written in prose and so i think that's really important to think about the fact that for many of us and those of us on this panel you know we live with piles of incredibly heavy graphic novels where we know that they're so heavy because there's so much ink in them and that um but so many people in the general population haven't found the science comics or the history comics or the world civic comics or they don't know that there's a harper alley or graphics or tune books or other things like that um but of course reyna reyna did have a lot to do with uh changing parents perceptions of graphic novels betsy has you know new kid in her hand we we had jean's book when us uh prince and then we had jerry croft's book win a newbery and i'm done no and i i just want to play off of that because i feel like you can say like well a mouse won a pulitzer and therefore it changed the entire world and to a certain extent it did but a lot of people haven't heard of it even though it's being right now banned again okay um but i think it's different for each person who is one over to comics you know people look at dog man and they're like dog man it's just a bunch of poop jokes and like no man dog man's deep it's got all sorts of emotional clarity and it gets into like the nature of good and evil but on like a personal level it's just oh it's really good but you wouldn't know that from it's about a dog and his head was so done to a cop it's funny but um i think when you have books like the arrival for example these are books that just completely can change your personal perception on it um and it helps when they win a big shiny awards to a certain extent but again you know it's an individual thing some people will never be convinced i mean a little more historical i mean historically it only dates back to the 90s but like i mean jeff smith's bone was of course that was probably the first scholastic like major acquisition of a comic that was an indie pop an indie darling not darling but it was an indie published book that that was scholastic suddenly deciding to you know bring this into the mainstream and bring it into the colorado book sales and color it yeah the colored version i still have the black and white version i still have the the brick black and white paperback that's how i prefer to read it those ring sequences they work so much better black one anyway um but yeah i mean bone was in recent vintage like the the real progenitor of a lot of school club comics in schools simply because that you that was in your scholastic book fair and that got everything started more or less i think part of what uh in terms of gaining acceptance in educator circles like with the teachers and the professionals themselves in terms of bringing it into instruction was a combination of uh i support teachers now with curriculum and lead uh district-wide curriculum adoptions and they're we're constantly looking for things that check many boxes if we're going to choose a text it's got to do a lot of things for a lot of students and so when you know persepolis and mouse and march started popping up on syllabi all over you know grade middle middle through high school and higher ed it was things like okay i can teach content along with actual skills and standards with this one text so um and then you know they're if they're approved by the gatekeeping communities they are orderable there are study guides that often come with them um curriculum materials and resources so those were definitely kind of why um why they started to gain acceptance in educator circles is that it's not always about oh well this isn't high art or this isn't what i you know got into teaching for i teach classics or i teach steinbeck you know it was it's often like okay this is my job it's very overwhelming i have a lot to accomplish for a lot of students um what can i do that's really efficient and meets a lot of needs and i'm supported with that so i think you know things like what learners doing and other big publishers and curriculum companies and state departments of education in terms of providing high quality resources and materials and training and webinars is what is what will continue to move that move that forward now we definitely throughout the hour want to talk about the specific uh literacy skills that can be taught using graphic novels uh but because uh there have been a few mentions already about the gatekeeping element um and the fact that it is still an ongoing issue to an extent uh i wanted to ask everyone also where do educators still encounter uh non-believers in graphic novels uh you know whether that's parents or administrators um you know where do you see this happening most often we were talking about this before we started the call um the official meeting uh english teachers are where i get a lot of pushback because i mean i i i mentioned that i i'm the librarian at a middle school and one of the english teachers here specifically tells her students you know it's gonna be you gotta get a book it's gonna be 100 pages and it can't be a comic can't be a graphic novel none of this comic stuff um and that's oh boy yeah i mean there's a lot of things wrong with that but it's i mean it's it's i think there's there's partly a resistance because i mean this is a complaint that also relatives of mine who don't necessarily understand the comics format have had is that there's not enough words you know it doesn't describe enough i don't i don't get how you can read a comic there's there's not enough words there to really get and it's it's a very different skill i mean some of what an english teacher does what an ela teacher reading teacher does is applicable to analyzing comics in the sense of being able to analyze a narrative or you know character arcs or elements of a story in that sense but elements like analyzing the craft analyzing sentence structure or phrasing or you know is this a reliable narrator um things like that those are not transferable and as such i mean they're sort of too close and yet way too far from what some of what an english teacher does that there's there's i think a large resistance there when it'd be more applicable to analyze them and say an art class um i don't know i'm kind of spitballing here but that's the most resistance i've seen has been among english teachers some english teachers to be clear some of my starters allies have also been english teachers the other two of those teachers here love the graphic novels so it depends on the teacher depends on their the way that they're teaching and what how they how they approach the pedagogy i also think it really also depends on what they know i mean i know a lot of us go back to scott mccloud and uh i'll never forget when somebody put scott mccloud's understanding comics in my hands and i was like oh a graphic novel to figure out how to read a graphic novel i get this you know i get this and so often they don't they aren't actually aware of the details and the facts and uh that graphic novels can have a wider range of vocabulary in the same way that a series has restricted vocabulary because they're all trying to say the same voice but graphic novels will span you know the spectrum with all the vocabulary and i find that for me as a teacher educator working everywhere i guess that the resistance can come from any part of the audience that i didn't anticipate grandparents parents guardians elementary school teachers even libra librarians who are just less familiar and haven't explored and but i do agree really with ted i think it's really important that one ally by the way one ally in this situation can really change everybody's perspective uh on the value of graphic novels and i don't understand why we're so afraid of the visual because if we were television and movies would never have become successful theater would never have become successful the in the camera and quite frankly the phone like we wouldn't care about having smartphones because that's one of the biggest changes in how we work so why are we so afraid of visual images um on so many levels by the way well but you just mentioned scott mcleod and he himself talks about this and he has a wonderful example he's like look we understand visuals are art i go into a museum i'm looking at a painting that's art we understand literature written word that is art this is moby dick it is art put the two together and that's not i don't know why that is but it's not art um there was a question in the comments about reading stamina uh as well and i would like to say uh you know a lot of these graphic novels have a ton of text um it really kind of depends on which one and i do feel like the more you read even if there are pictures that doesn't mean that your stamina because if you watch a kid read graphic novel after graphic novel graphic novel after background now just think about the word count that's going down there the pictures don't detract um it's not like oh there's pictures there therefore they're not reading the words that is not what's going on um yeah and then also the amount that they re-read right like graphic novels and comics are known for and we know that's why we have all of i have them sitting down here at my feet all of the collected um peanuts cartoons and the baby blues comic strips and anything that you know lasted over five years in serial form is anthologized and you go to a bookstore and they're taking up shelves and shelves so it because we yes we've read them before but we're re reading them and restudying them and when you talk about building stamina um and connecting to um what uh we were hearing before about just the visual imagery that we're surrounded by and that phones are visual and and connecting back to parents concerns is what i found is really helpful is um communicating to parents how this is valuable in students daily lived experiences like they see their own children consumed by media and scrolling maniacally not really processing thoughtfully what they're seeing in visual form and that this is one way to help them build the capacity and the stamina for in taking all of that visual stimulus that they can actually control the pace of that through this medium and process it more thoughtfully that we're teaching them questions to ask we're helping them look very closely the way that we do close reading of texts we're doing that with visuals we're considering what if so we're considering what do we not see what do we see that others don't see how does who we are culturally and ethnically racially and all of these ways influence what we are actually seeing and how we're making meaning of it and so i think you know whatever the concerns are um they're they're valid and they're they're just as varied um as any other concern and and valid and i think it helps really with opening those lines of communication and maintaining that school-to-home partnership and and asking you know what are the concerns if if there is a concern about reading stamina where does that come from what are you really asking and worried about and then you know how can this actually um how can i show you that what we're doing is actually in support of that goal that we share for your child you know the irony of so much of this is it's uh some of you are too young to remember but for a long time picture books there was this whole idea that you would only read picture books up to this certain point and there was also an idea about um series books and you were you know any serious book that you read was that was not acceptable and that was less we've gone through all these periods of time um really since the 1920s where some kind of literature was not valued in in an entire area not just a specific book so we're not talking about the banning and the censorship because that's a whole other webinar extended so i think all of these points are so valid but it is about that perspective it is about that perspective and literally just doing something to say hey what if or i like to say so what what if i mean no child has ever gotten a disease or died as a result of reading a graphic novel in the same way that you don't if you read anything you don't have a negative physical experience unless it's related to the mold so you know if we keep mold out of books then we should just put books in the hands of kids there's a there's a phrase i forget where i picked it up from first but it's applicable to comics i think it was about comics that i read it but it's applicable to a lot of other new media too which is that a lot of it anytime there's a new medium or a new specific variation on that medium or new genre it's seen as simultaneously worthless and or sorry harmless and harmful that is to say it's either frivolous and silly and completely unworthy of any sort of serious study and slash or corrupting our children and you know driving them to horrible acts and so forth and it's thomas was the victim of that thomas has been the victim of that several times comics has been a victim of a moral panic well like three or four times now um but i mean the same with true you know video games rap music whatever other sort of new media panic you want to put in there but it's that it's either harmless or harmful which means that there's no way to analyze it critically and you know dispassionately and realize you know here are the things you can do with comics and also there are some things you can't do with comics i mean there there are limits on every medium that you can use that when you're when you're teaching in any format those are such great points uh from everybody uh before we segue into a more uh these granular discussion of comics and literary skills um i just wanted to go around one more time and ask um you know what's uh you know for you personally or or you know through anecdotes you've picked up along the way uh you know most effective in helping uh you know graphic novel non-believers uh see the value in using graphic novels or literary literacy development or you know within the grounds of a school period i have this exercise that my teachers do where they take a graphic novel and they type up the language from a graphic novel and they take a prose text that has a similar idea theme or content and type it up and then they compare not knowing which is which not knowing which and which and then they often find that they're of equal or stronger value in terms of the vocabulary the sentence structure the point of view the liter the literary perspective and other things it's just a quick little thing when we're talking about it um the other thing that i think is super important in teacher education programs and librarian programs is to teach people how graphic novels work if they don't already know and there's so many ways that you can do it sveta's got lots of good things in how she does this they're just so many great ways that you can teach them the vocabulary the the difference between um literal and inferential literally can often be a speech bubble versus a thinking bubble i that's literally how i teach literal and inferential comprehension skills and boom you get a few can you get a few converters that you didn't even anticipate you get a few that you didn't even anticipate well and that was something that really shocked me when i we have to remember there are people who simply either don't know how to read a graphing novel or have a great deal of difficulty in doing so because they didn't grow up with them i worked with a woman at the library who who really had a very difficult time you know and would look at the graph and i'll be like okay so what do i read first the pictures or the words and for someone who had grown up with you know every karl barks comic in the world at a 7-eleven this just blew my mind like yes um so there but so we have to kind of bear that in mind that when people say there is no value to this sometimes they simply can't read them themselves this this does happen too yeah i think that speaks to really how how uncomfortable people are with anything that is destabilizing you know in any way and then they feel that way as well for their children and often teachers may feel that way for their charges you know in their classroom and i know a lot of teachers i've worked with you know want to teach something they have full confidence in and there's a lot of reasons for that and benefits to that but simultaneously we want to support teachers with modeling and experiencing that jarring and slightly uncomfortable discomfort around something that is unexpected unpredicted experimental to them and to be vulnerable and brave at the same time with engaging with that with that work and i found what what tends to really um turn that needle or uh make that turning point that you asked about earlier with non-believers if that's what we're calling them is uh is just inviting them in to see you know as soon as they see what work students are producing what questions we're helping students ask of the visual storytelling that they're engaging with then then that's where where you start to see a shift like oh my student my child is asking questions i've never asked of a visual before or my student has skills and techniques to make meaning and process this visual page that i have never seen before i don't remember learning when i was in high school you know whereas a parent who's like oh you brought home romeo and juliet i remember when i was reading that and you know you can easily connect to that and you still have that very comforting feeling of being the authority or someone who knows about that or has something to offer your child um so it it's just it's that that's always going to be a little bit discombobulating um but we want people to step into it and lean into it and and welcome it and and feel confident to be a little unconfident with it yeah and just to play off of that a little bit to sort of remind me that there are book comics that are covering topics that simply don't exist uh as pros so if you can find me a whole bunch of menstruation parody uh p-a-r-i-t-y parity uh books for young people uh go to it but uh right now this is this is all she wrote i think that's just a really good point there are so many things i know i recently been dread and caught up on all the history comics from first second the stonewall riot one the national parks one which i dreaded i did not want to read the national parks one because i thought why am i reading the national parks one i learned so much and it had such a good contemporary um like look at the questions and think the considerations we should have about the national parks and it's funny because betsy and i often have some of the same things sitting here and whether it's the world civics comics and ending i think the other thing we really have to think about is so often we can make a topic accessible for an audience either a highly able audience a less able audience um or just any audience uh the science comics and crows i've read two books in my life on crows one was the scientists in the field book on crows and the other one was the science comics on crows i now feel i can answer the basic jeopardy question on crows um so i think one of the keys will be that we get a jeopardy winner and he she or they says that they studied for jeopardy by only winning graphic novels and i think that will be a really good moment uh i study for my ap us history uh test back in high school by reading larry goenig's cartoon history of the united states so like yeah larry going against that's another really early example of a non-fiction comics guy who i would love to see more of his stuff being circulated even though it's somewhat outdated by this point like because that was cartoony the universe was the stuff i was reading back in high school which was probably way too young for it but um anyway i want to touch on something that we're seeing in the chat quite a bit um just because i think it's really relevant to this conversation about uh you know not just gatekeepers but uh what people have you know alluded to with sometimes the gap between parent and child in terms of comfort and familiarity with a graphic novel um and how the popularity of manga factors into that um if you know if a parent or an educator is making a good faith effort to understand the form uh but also encounters you know graphic novels that we that read left to right and graphic novels that read right to left um uh what advice you'd give them or if you've seen that that confounding the process uh even during those good faith efforts i want to jump in with that one i actually just recorded a webinar yesterday on manga teaching with manga for a group of librarians i think it'll be live next week next tuesday um i can maybe share the link in our resource guide but we had a rich discussion on this yesterday and how actually the idea that it reads um in a reverse way is actually not as much of an impediment as we would think like that doesn't actually have anything to do with the the grammar of japanese visual language that's really at play in a manga that's quite different from the visual language that western readers are used to with north american comics and european comics so um we talked a lot about that idea of japanese visual language and our manga readers our students here in the us or north america are bilingual visual language speakers and and there's a lot to really learn about the different choices that a manga creator is employing and experimenting with and using and i think that might be more of the the disconnect when a parent looks at the manga their child is reading it's like throws their hands up you know there are things that aren't translatable immediately like some of the iconic symbols don't have the same cultural meaning as they would here where drops of sweat means something very different a bloody nose means like sexual interest and romantic arousal um so there are some things that you just sort of learn and become fluent with as you read more manga the way that that anyone learns a new language um but also well i'll just pause there and invite others to talk but there's a lot more at play with whether reading manga is actually less of a cognitive load and demand and or more and actually it's it's both it fits one of the the special golden criteria of a good teaching resource which it has a low floor and a high ceiling so it can be overly cognitively demanding while also being very accessible i think that's such a good point about the fact that a we have to all be decision makers as readers as thinkers for decision makers and as readers were decision makers and the reading of manga the reading of a graphic novel the reading of determining whether something is a fact or point of view all of those are just decisions and any human being who can navigate decision making those are really good skills and super important and with the fmris that we're able to get now looking at two people one who's reading prose texts and one who is reading um a graphic a graphic visual or a graphic novel or manga by the way they're firing differently but they're both firing like the internet or a baby's young brain um and it reminds me often of a video that tiffany schlain did which is um from networks to neurons and how babies work and it's just a different kind of firing it's not good it's not bad it's just a different kind of firing so it's that i think that's so incredibly important and i also think going back to something that betsy said i think a lot about this i think about the fact that when it comes to memoirs you know when it comes to memoirs and when it comes to biographies how much more interesting some of them are in a graphic format and how you don't necessarily get bogged down in different parts of it and we've really been exploring memoir and biographies in graphic whether it's the center for cartoon studies collaboration with i don't know if it's disney now or little brown it kind of must be a little brown now keeping up or whether it's people who literally you know talk to us about covid and would post their graphic their their comic or their graphic for covid and now are putting it together putting it together so i think that's there's just so much there let's stay on that topic then let's talk a bit more about graphic non-fiction specifically um and what you found are the benefits of uh teaching history or science through graphic novels um graphic non-fiction or um just in sharing uh you know topics uh with readers through those formats i mean one thing that i feel like is kind of important to note is that nonfiction has already had a long tradition of at least the ones that i'm seeing in schools having illustrations or photographs to go with it so in a sense they're already aping cues from graphic novels in a larger sense um in the way that they're using both visual and uh and verbal information on the page um this is this is sort of just a side note for me but it's something i've been thinking about a lot about the the the viability of certain genres in different media like why certain genres seem to work better in one medium as opposed to another like i i have a personal feeling that like for example horror works much better in a movie format than it does in a straight prose book and in the same sense i feel like part of the explosion of graphic memoirs is that memoir and biography tend to work really well in comics and it's something about the way in which an experience described in comics can be both subjective and objective whereas in a pro's biography it would be treated as inherently at least at least the way that i'm reading them it's treated as inherently a fully subjective experience i was like this is how this person felt entirely in this moment but there's no broader view whereas a film biopic would be entirely objective because or it feels that way because you're seeing it happen sort of more or less with completely clear unobstructed views and then comics sort of straddle that line and being a an illustrated version of an actual event to maintain the author's perspective on that event because this is how they're drawing it but at the same time has the feel of being objectively recorded i don't know this is sort of a conversation for a different webinar i suppose but graphic memoir has rapidly become yeah it's memoir biography more generally have become such a huge part of comics just because it it both personalizes and also not objectifies um maintains a level of objectivity about this subject um in a way that pros biographies find i i've found to be they have a real difficult time doing i'm really excited by this idea particularly because i'm such a stickler for accuracy in my picture book nonfiction where people are putting in fake quotes and stuff and it drives me mad yet i have absolutely no problem with nathan hale's hazardous tales which is done in a comic format and i'm like why is this because i think you've really hit on this because this book is not pretending that this isn't being seen through a specific lens um everything that we all non-fiction that kids are reading is seen through a specific lens the difference is when you have comics they're being really really overt about it saying you know what the lens is yeah you know what the lens is we know for a fact that you know this particular you know doctor at this particular time wasn't leaning on this particular lamp post but we have to show it in some sort of format so i feel like there is almost a kind of honesty to a non-fiction comic um that would be a little harder to find with a work of nonfiction that was purely prose this is fascinating yeah the example i keep going back to and i wish i had one of his books going around but joe sacco has done a whole bunch of i mean he's kind of he's not the only person doing this but he's he was a a a non-fiction comics journalist for the longest time when his any any of his works but like severe garage day in particular is one that i read up i read many times like during college and the fact that he's reporting as sort of as as bloodlessly and as objectively as he can but still very much aware that he is and you know he is he is an outsider he's a foreigner he's a reporter in a particular time and place who has no real connection to this culture and the the balance that those books of his maintain he's he's someone i highly recommend because his work is he's been doing it for years he's been perfecting that hard um but yeah sorry again i'm kind of dragging it off topic but yeah there's something about the visual information being processed that that lets you understand oh this isn't really happening but it's close enough you know yeah i think that part that's really where the science comics are the most interesting when they move away from this sort of clinical diagram you know i often hear science teachers say like oh why you i use science comics but it's it's in a way that just really supplements or really replaces or mimics what the textbook is doing or you know traditional curriculum textbook and science is also going to have visuals and diagrams and coloring sheets where students color in different color codes of organ systems and all that and i think what's interesting about the comic format that you both have been speaking about is that it brings in that layer of subjectivity involved and even science reporting um you know the metaphors that a typical science textbook uses unknown to the curriculum writers have a lot of power in how they're communicating how science topics work like the whole field of physics is just completely inundated with metaphor um and and they're you know we'd be we'd be remiss to not educate students and call awareness to the fact that we are actually telling a story even when we think we're not um and we're communicating about scientific truth um and then and then when you when you do have that subjective element in the comics form it's inviting conversation and study about the implications and emotional impact of those science topics and um how they have real world um connections you know and then and then that's where our students are really brought into like what what does this knowledge of viruses have to do with my lived experience and what i want to be in the world and how i want to manage what i'm experiencing yeah i think that's a great point and in its way it's an answer to the comic skeptic who might say you know as soon as someone is drawing a sequence and you know claiming that it's non-fiction they are they are creating a fiction you know it's a reminder that um you know people are working in metaphor and bringing their subjectivity even to these other venues that are also theoretically um you know neutral omniscient objective um let's see we've got about 15 minutes left altogether uh and i want to make sure we get to some attendee questions but first let's let's touch a bit as promised on graphic novels and literary skills um for uh beginning readers say what literacy skills um can be taught using graphic novels all of them i mean it's really simple we can go from phonological awareness how sounds work in the reading aloud to alphabetic principle to fluency vocabulary and comprehension i mean the truth of the matter is it's like the material isn't the destination it's the vehicle to the destination and with the combination so there's i would argue that there is nothing that cannot be done with the appropriate graphic novel i just recently sergio rougey has these i can read comics and then the second one is just out fish and wave fish and wave and i was just looking at it and thinking how i was going to work with early like really young educators so uh my panelists may disagree with me but i think that there's nothing that can't be done no objections here toon books as well also does a lot of the early easy reading um books as well and it kind of depends on which artist that they do but i can say that if you're looking for easy reading non-fiction for example my son was freaking obsessed with antonio for a couple years there so yeah i mean there's when i keep thinking of what comics do really well it's it's it's helping to get across subtleties in in narrative so helping across subtleties in the narrative that would be difficult for people who aren't necessarily fluent in the language or don't have full comprehension of it or who are in any way working on their language skills still understand you know if you have a character who is acting untrustworthy you can have that you know be expressed through body language and gesture and in extreme cases even like the shape of the word balloon or background or things like that um and people will still get across those get those elements even if they don't necessarily have the full vocabulary so it's it's useful for students who may be high low readers maybe striving readers maybe english language learners who want to participate in understanding a narrative but don't necessarily have the linguistic tools not to say that all comics are best for for kids who can't speak who have limited skills i mean there's a lot of nuance that can be you know squeezed out of any of these books but there's something particularly helpful i think about uh part of the reason that i think reina telgemeier has been the unmatched queen of the new york times bestseller was for so long is because she's so very good at drawing extremely simple but very very readable expressions gestures body language you can always tell in her in her books sort of how this person feels about what they're saying or how they feel about the other person because those lines are so very crisp and clear and that's i think what comics do really well is getting across that that this the nuances the subtleties of conversation of character um the way in which a place makes you feel or an object has you know what what weight an object has to this person um yeah i mean for me comics aren't necessarily even for me what comics do is story is king someone was someone on my tumblr was just posting about this recently for a webinar they did but like story is always king and what comics do really well is put that story first front and foremost so you cannot ignore this character is you know this character is crucial this character is a villain this character is a hero whatever but this character always has a visual weight to them that is really just unmistakable to even the casual reader that's beautiful ted i like that description um and it it makes me think of um the with the reina telgemeier the crispness and cleanness and how much is communicated with the visual of these characters and what they're navigating and their anxieties um is that when you're talking about early readers and you compare a typical early reader text that's not a graphic novel or like if we're thinking of those bob books or something like that where there's decodable text on the page and maybe a visual to support it and when you think about being a parent or even a teacher who's conferring with a young reader in the in a literacy workshop um and you're thinking about what what else can i ask this child you know how can i have this meaningful discussion about what's on the page with my child and prolong the time that we're looking at this page together it's like well if you're looking at a graphic novel a comic version of an early reader text suddenly you have so much more you can ask about you know what just even the two simple questions what do you see what do you notice why do you say that what do you see that makes you say that what's happening how do you know all of that those nuances ted was describing are at work in really sophisticated ways in something as deceptively simple as a three panel calvin and hobbes strip i've done this in a second grade classroom where i've walked in and just simply said what's happening how do you know and i charted their responses and we had three butcher papers full of observations because once they start noticing little things like hobbes's paws are over the blanket you know not under the blanket i wonder you know why are they over the blanket and you know we had discussions with second graders about how you know it made him more human and it reminded us that calvin is the only one who actually sees him and that he's actually mimicking calvin's own fear it's really calvin who's got his hands over the blanket that's afraid to go to bed at night but but his stuffy is doing that you know so um could i have had that same conversation with a bob book that you know that's fascinating what you were talking about is especially with um my sister is a an art an art educator she works at the minneapolis institute of art um there's a there's a very specific i don't know if it's a tool or a framework or something for analyzing um paintings with uh young children where it's essentially that exact process where you say what is this picture what are you seeing you know what is happening it's not from our educators there you go okay yeah it's that framework it's there's no there's no you don't go into it with any context you don't have any leading questions you don't know the history or the you know the biography of the person who created or anything you just look at it what do you see on the page and what in what information can you distill from all of that that's fascinating yeah and then the comics format beyond just sort of a static painting that you might do in an arts education class is that i think we talked about this earlier but all of the inferencing and what's not on the page you know is as much ripe for conversation in a conferring teacher-student conversation or a parent child um where so much is left that this the child is filling in so many of the gaps between the panel sequences whereas in a in a painting yes you can have equally as robust and rich conversations about what students notice but what i find more exciting and rewarding is when i talk to them about an actual sequence of panels or sequential art because they're when when you ask them what do you see that makes you say that and then also what do you wonder um you get so much variety in there like all the different ways that they're likes own experiences or lack of experiences have influenced how they filled in those gaps is exciting yeah i think those mentions uh of nuances even in early readers graphic novels are so important i'm trying to stay in my lane as moderator but i'll mention quickly a couple times i've taught uh you know a seminar on uh an introduction to graphic novels for interested children's book writers an introduction to the the real early nuts and bolts of graphic novel scripting and one of the things i try to do is uh the theoretical graphic novel script that has a caption describing a bear climbing up a tree i try and convey the difference between that caption and a drawing of the bear climbing that tree with ease or the bear struggling to climb that tree which i mentioned just as a way of saying uh fundamental you know literary high literary value like irony i think can be conveyed very efficiently very legibly even in the simplest uh early reader graphic novel in a way that i think is useful for uh literacy altogether um but i want to touch on the other end of the spectrum quickly um in terms of you know the what continues to be the curious place of graphic novels in schools and libraries in the classroom um ted um a while ago touched on the question of whether uh they're a better fit an art class or an english class which is you know another hour entirely but i'm curious um uh guess what you would say to the english teacher who the the 12th grade english teacher who in deciding their their reading list for a semester you know if they're choosing between a teenager's introduction to faulkner versus uh you know whether or not to put a graphic novel on their list for that semester um how you make that case if the there are you know still better venues for graphic novels in an educational environment or or whatever whatever thoughts that generates in our last uh five minutes or so yeah i wanna i wanna respond by just saying that i found it more helpful in those conversations to move away from a structure of this or that because then teachers always feel like there's some kind of loss or trade-off well if i do that then i can't do this um and this is important because you know and i and i want talking about what we said earlier where teachers need things that are going to do a lot of things for a lot of students um and so i would introduce it more as you know we we also need to move away from this idea of having to teach a whole class novel all the way through you know that was i taught 12th 12th grade english for years and i was doing that the whole class now and while there's a lot of value and for sure we should still do some of that um i wish that the first time i taught persepolis in the classroom i had just done excerpts i wanted and i write about this in my book and different ways to incorporate graphic novels without feeling like you're losing out on some other thing um or not exposing kids to something you feel like they need to be exposed to and and just moving more towards wider exposure to everything so teaching less and offering more um and and using excerpts i mean the graphic novel and comics medium is so perfect for that right because you have three panel comics or you have a splash page that you could simply bring in to supplement or complement a study of a faulkner's short story or enrich an understanding of that time period or what was going on with a subpopulation and who's in the background of a factor story um what else was happening in the south and in that turn of the century um how were other people envisioning this historical event that is a pivotal um part of a faulkner plot um and so the graphic novel comics medium can really enhance the instruction that a teacher may already be doing where the text they're very comfortable and proud to teach um so so that that's one way to to support those questions i think it's also really we forget that we can do things i agree with everything that has been said and like think there's so many ways to go but why why is it that some kids don't read the prose first version of long way down and some kids read the graphic novel it's really in certain people at certain times under certain circumstances there's absolutely no reason that kids can't read different texts because as i always say if we can't all agree on the 50 text that every human being must read by his her or their 50th birthday um then there probably aren't 50 texts that we all we all have to read so let's just let them read let's just let them read but i also love this idea of supplementing um you know your faulkner whatever it is with marginalized voices that are in comics now um that you wouldn't necessarily be seeing you know um you know books by indigenous writers you know who would not necessarily be on you know the canon of what you were supposed to read but then could supplement and you could have these as well in the reading experience i just think that's very interesting we just have a few minutes left now uh i'm seeing the chats uh more than one request for uh graphic novel recommendations um especially for families or first-time readers uh we will of course have uh you know a substantial reading list that we'll send out but uh just in these last few minutes um since uh at least a couple of you folks brought hard copies uh to hold up to the camera i'd welcome to do that um if there are any elevator pitches for for favorites you'd particularly like to deliver uh please feel welcome in these last few minutes i want to make sure i get one title in um it's called oh no i'm blurred it's called here by uh richard mcguire and it's gonna be i wanted to bring it up so many different times but i i'm mesmerized by uh the the titles that keep getting popping up so um so efficiently and expertly um but this one because if i have to just say one this is the one that i will will hand over to a parent to a young child to a high school senior to an educator who's been doing this for years to someone new to teaching with comics or graphic novels it's almost entirely wordless with some minimal text um it's a blend between a science comic fiction so really the idea in a nutshell is that he visualize he portrays one corner of a room in a house that's the whole graphic novel but he takes it through thousands hundreds of thousands of years throughout the earth's history so you see that room in 1986 you see it in 2015 with that mid-century modern decor you see it in um 2215 where he's imagined this futuristic uh space um that that comes out of changes due to climate uh problems climate change and you see it in you know thousands of years bc you see um just how it so all of the so not only are you learning about how the earth and our relationship with it has evolved over time but it brings in questions about population change gentrification um uh architecture how does that how does the house itself change and evolve over these decades um what was there before what was there before the before and then to extend that imagination to what could be there in 200 more years if you had to draw those pages at the end where mcguire envisions this kind of post-apocalyptic world um what what would you just the possibilities are endless and when we talk about doing more with one text doing everything with one text this is really the kind that i think this medium uh offers you to be able to do that um i'm gonna really quick talk about two that are kind of on opposite ends of the spectrum the first is a manga volume i just picked up on a whim just recently called my brain is different which is like nine short non-fiction chapters based off of the author interviewing um people with developmental disorders things like adhd or depression or who are on the autism spectrum and also like the first chapter is about the author themselves discovering oh i have adult adhd that's never been diagnosed and it's also it's also kind of a look at the japanese health care system and about how zappy society uh at least in this portrayal response to individuals who have different who are not neurotypical um and it's i mean it's extremely clear and crisp and well illustrated it expresses a lot of emotion despite being very very simple um and i've really been thoroughly enjoying it on the opposite of the spectrum though i really want to recommend dungeon critters by natalie reese and sarah gettner because that has this incredible visual style and if you want to talk about like you know exaggerated figures and how you can use the word bullets to convey emotion and like just layouts and everything visually it's just a feast it's incredibly good it would also be great for excerpts because it's very it's also very chapter based but um yeah those two are some of the some of the favorite comics i've had this year um really fast i love comics that completely upset the form if you want something that's just bizarre mr invincible is fantastic it's where the panels no longer his superpower is that he is not bound by the panels and so he can therefore defeat people um by upsetting the very nature of the comic itself it will blow your mind another mind blower meanwhile uh where it is um maybe more of a math and physics uh book in some ways but it's just so much fun and it has so many possibilities because it has all these tabs that you can follow to different possibilities it's like choose your own adventure if choose your own adventure was about physics um i'm just like nuts over kind of everything um but i have to say lately i've been having real a lot of fun with things like the world citizen comics where families are reading and discussing it of all ages like stargazing clash clash and other things like that um i i think they're just so many possibilities with the 7 200 books published every year i'm so glad that a higher percentage of them are of them for youth i'm so glad that a higher percentage of graphic novels and i delight with the fact that we get new graphic novels available every week and so whether they're from three four three year olds or 103 or 113 year olds there's so many different so many different things and i think the fall is looking really really exciting um for some new titles but there are some great old ones as well all right thank you everyone we're at time i'll just reiterate for our attendees we'll we'll take a little time to research and make sure that we have full bibliographic information for all the books that have been held up ever so briefly or discussed in the chat or elsewhere and we'll get that along with the reporting out to you in a day or so in the meantime you can go to learnerbooks.com graphic novel webinar and we already have a book list posted there for everything that was submitted ahead of time either by panelists or by the folks who registered to attend the webinar so there's a lot of books there already 60 or so but we'll have more and we'll send that out um maybe tomorrow maybe at the beginning of next week depending on how quick we get through this research i just want to say say thank you again so much to our panelists for this really great discussion i hope you all enjoyed it as much as i did i've been frantically ordering books from my library um as we've been going along and thank you so much for your time have a great rest of your day you