As a middle school English teacher, I’ve read a lot of book over the years. Probably more pop culture and high interest types–think the Hunger Games or Harry Potter–than classics. I’ve read biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction, realistic fiction, science fiction, you name it, but I haven’t read any of these genres in the style of a graphic novel.
The graphic novel has become widely popular over the last five years. This section in our school library has expanded ten times over, but what makes this such an engaging read? It is the combination of the words and pictures. Both tell a unique story that are needed as a compliment to one another. Think of comic book meats novel: graphic novel. Graphic novels are written in all types of genres including but not limited to realistic fiction, historical fiction, autobiographies and biographies, and even traditional literature like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.
The recent–and first– graphic novel that I read was March: Book One by John Lewis (one of our current congressman and one of the Big Six leaders), coauthored by Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell. This book is the first in a trilogy of memoirs recounting what it was like to be on the front lines during the American Civil Rights Movement. The first book takes place during present time with two young boys and their mother visiting the congressman. During their visit, he retells what it was like growing up on a chicken farm and how that led him to fight for equal rights. This was a great choice for my first graphic novel. I found that not only did I have to read the text, but I also had to “read” the images to understand the whole story. I loved that I gained so much knowledge in such a little amount of time–I finished it in one sitting while getting my oil changed. Bonus.–, and reading from his perspective helped connect me as a reader to what it was really like to have this experience. Due to the content, I highly recommend this book for any age. It give a first hand account of such an important historical event: The March on Washington. I think you’ll find it engaging.
Because I found this to be an interesting way to read literature, I will be trying another graphic novel that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while now called Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier which focuses on living with cystic fibrosis, celebrating your culture, and coping with death. When a student came to me today with it completed, it reminded me to try another graphic novel. So, instead of putting it back on my bookshelf, I brough it home. I’ll be starting this one right after I finish Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (a play–also, a writing style you should try if you haven’t). Time to hit the books.
If you are a graphic novel enthusiast, let me know other good titles of graphic novels that are must reads. I always enjoy reading your comments and learning from you your interests. Not a graphic novel fan but have a great book recommendation, I’d love to hear from you too!