Get Graphic Novels into your Elementary Collection

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					Notes from the Field

Get Graphic Novels
into your Elementary Collection
                                                                                                                       by Raya Samet




T      here was a time, not
       long ago, when graphic
       novels could scarcely be
found in elementary collections.
Graphic novels for young read-
                                                 and setting. They usually employ a comic-
                                                 book style that uses multiple images on a
                                                 single page, and includes text bubbles to
                                                 indicate dialogue and captions to describe
                                                 action. What sets a graphic novel apart
                                                 from a comic book is basically its length
                                                 and plot complexity. Comic books are often
                                                                                                  tent is perfectly innocent. Manga is usually
                                                                                                  printed in black and white on unbleached
                                                                                                  newsprint. Depending on the publisher, to
                                                                                                  preserve the original Japanese layout, the
                                                                                                  book may read from right-to-left (what
                                                                                                  most English readers would consider as
                                                                                                  starting at the back cover).
ers with appropriate content                     bound like a magazine whereas graphic                Manga itself can be broken into many
and at the right reading levels                  novel bindings more closely resemble             specific sub-types. The two most impor-
                                                 books. In other words, think of comic            tant words to know in terms of sub-types
were hard to find, and anything                  books as periodicals, and graphic novels         for manga are “shonen,” meant to appeal
on the elementary school shelf                   as monographs with a higher production           primarily to boys, and “shoujo,” meant to
                                                 value.                                           appeal primarily to girls. In the United
with a graphic format was likely                     However, trying to split these two styles    States, the main publishers of manga are
to be a collection of traditional                apart is often like splitting hairs since they   TokyoPop and VIZ Media. Some smaller
comic strips that had at one                     share many important characteristics and         publishers, like Udon, are emerging to
                                                 influence each other. For the purposes of        cater specifically to the elementary manga
time graced the newspaper                        this article, and for most elementary school     demographic.
funnies page. There was also a                   library collections, it is not necessary to
stigma attached to circulating                   distinguish between comic books and
                                                 graphic novels because, basically, they ap-      Graphic Novels in the
graphic novels. They were con-
sidered somehow less than “real
                                                 peal to the same diverse groups of readers.
                                                     Graphic novels are a medium, and can
                                                                                                  Elementary School Library
                                                                                                      There are many reasons to include
reading.” That was then.                         cover any artistic style and any genre in        graphic novels in your library collection,
    Today, there is an abundance of graphic      both fiction and nonfiction. Some graphic        and not a single reason for them to be
novels published for young readers—they          novels stand alone as single volumes, while      excluded. Graphic novels engage strug-
are available for all ages, interests, and       others are ongoing series that build up          gling readers, and aid in comprehension
budgets. School librarians and classroom         character development and plot arcs over         and vocabulary building. They can also
teachers are realizing the immense benefits      time. More recently, hybrids between tra-        help English Language Learners in this
of graphic media for stimulating literacy        ditional chapter books and graphic novels        regard, since words in a new language need
and delivering engaging and differentiated       have appeared, which include longer and          to be paired with something concrete (in
instruction.                                     denser chunks of text but retain many of         this case, a graphic representation). Even
    If you are starting an elementary graph-     the same layout features of a comic book         for strong readers proficient in English,
ic novel collection, this article will provide   format.                                          visual materials promote representational
basic information and point toward some                
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Graphic novels for young readers with appropriate content and at the right reading levels were hard to find, and anything on the elementary school shelf with a graphic format was likely to be a collection of traditional comic strips that had at one time graced the newspaper funnies page. For the purposes of this article, and for most elementary school library collections, it is not necessary to distinguish between comic books and graphic novels because, basically, they appeal to the same diverse groups of readers.
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