Have you heard that kids shouldn’t read too many graphic novels? That they’ll lose a taste for “real” literature? That they’ll never become independent readers?
Telling students not to read graphic novels is like telling kids not to eat their vegetables.
Graphic novels can be a silver bullet. Struggling reader? Read a graphic novel. Dis-fluent reader? Read a graphic novel. Strong reader who’d rather be playing video games? You get the picture.
The just-right graphic novel can transform a reluctant reader into a confident bibliophile.
Last June, I was working with a second grader with severe dyslexia. She was finally decoding accurately, but she still read slowly. On the last day of school, we spent a few minutes reading Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper byKazu Kibuishi. She was hooked. A week later, her mom came in concerned. Sarah hadn’t wanted to go outside or play. Instead, she’d spent the past week devouring all five books in the series. Fast forward one year — this student’s reading fluency is at grade-level.
Every year I hear from parents and teachers who are concerned that their students are reading graphic novels. These are just a few of the concerns I’ve heard:
I’m a risk adverse gal. As a child, I used to watch on as my friends shimmied to the tops of towering oak trees. Me, I kept my two feet firmly planted and considered the probability of my friend breaking a limb if she toppled from the tree’s branches.
I would have stayed in a comfortable job, earning a regular salary and benefits. Two feet, firmly planted. Circumstances, however, compelled me to launch a private practice.
I’d finished my master’s degree. I’d jumped through the hoops with my post-graduate work. I just wasn’t interested in going back to school for a teaching credential, so classroom jobs were out. At the clinic where I worked, I kept less than a quarter of the student’s fees. Someone was making money, but it definitely wasn’t me. No one was hiring educational therapists. So I screwed my courage to the sticking-place, and tentatively, cautiously, started the climb towards building my own practice.
That first year was painful – money was tight and I was worried about the business’ success. Honestly, there was just a lot of ego on the line. Mine. Everyone knew that I had started this business. What if I failed? What if I was ineffectual? Turns out, a well-developed fear of failure can provide potent motivation. I kept climbing.
Today, I love my practice. I love that it allows me to make ethical decisions, to prioritize my own well being, and to be flexible. Honestly, the view from those branches is pretty darn sweet.