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Posted by on in Literacy

Young boy reading manga

I've had a couple of parents approach me recently with questions akin to: "How do I get my child to read something else besides graphic novel? I want him to read real chapter books." To which I say: "Why do you need to do this?" If your child is reading graphic novels, then he is reading. Graphic novels are real books. If your child is reading graphic novels avidly, then my suggestion is not to try to push him to chapter books. My suggestion is to find him more graphic novels.

Now, I will concede one issue that I've run into due to my daughter's devotion to graphic novels. There just aren't as many graphic novels as there are chapter books. This means that we can actually run out of books for her to read that are even remotely age appropriate (and believe me, I have stretched this upwards). She doesn't help matters by having only passing interest in fantasy - she wants thick, realistic graphic novels only. And she pretty much has all of the ones I can find that she can understand. She simply reads those over and over again. I'm fairly sure she must know Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham's Real Friends by heart.

Because of this shortage I have tried introducing some notebook novels into the mix. These still have plenty of illustrations, but also have more text. My daughter is having none of it. This means that unless I can find new graphic novels that she likes, she ends up reading less. Which is certainly not the goal. But I personally think it would be worse to push her to read books that she's not interested in. So I don't.

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Posted by on in Literacy


Reading is fundamental, that’s true, but somehow this idea gets lost in the translation. Re-stated, it means, in today’s education system, that reading is fundamental when we make Johnny read and read and read until the words come out of his eyes and ears. At that point, it becomes a habit, so deeply ingrained in him, that it is only natural for him to pick up a book in his leisure time.

Imagine that: In a world of constant distractions and events flying by at high speeds, Johnny will read at a pace much slower than reality, where digressions and inner-space journeys intervene frequently. In order to prevent these diversions from happening, we bombard the child with a barrage—sometimes called a list—of thirty books to read on his own.

By reading, on average, three books per month, along with the summer bonus of ten more books, Johnny might become, for us, but unbeknownst to him, a reader, booklover, lifelong learner, in a naturally unnatural way. This is the fundamental way to impact the reading process, or the magic of reading, so he can sit engaged and bored simultaneously, and constantly thinking and asking questions about his future days, for example:  

What are the easiest books to read and respond to?

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Posted by on in Literacy
John Green's novel Looking for Alaska appeals to the adolescent need to connect and find meaning in life.
John Green's novel Looking for Alaska appeals to the adolescent need to connect and find meaning in life.

Around the winter holidays, two of my students presented me with a lovely card and the gift of a novel. Always interested in what my students are reading, I took interest in their selection, especially because they recommended it so highly. Unfortunately, life made it difficult for me to carve out the time to read it until this current Spring Break.

Looking for Alaska by John Green has all of the appeal and character of a modern day Catcher in the Rye. It seeks to answer the big questions about life and what motivates us.

Miles, the protagonist in the novel goes searching for "The Great Perhaps". Shipping himself off to boarding school and taking refuge and interest in famous people's dying words, he longs to connect with his peers in a way he hasn't at the school by his home.

Admittedly when I began reading the novel, I wasn't quite sure if I'd continue and began to question the taste of the students who shared it. On some level, I felt like perhaps I had "aged out" of this kind of coming of age novel. No longer an adolescent, was this novel going to hold up for a grown up?

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