Graphic novels and literacy engagement - Education Matters Magazine
Professional Development

Graphic novels and literacy engagement

Monash literacy graphic novels

Literacy experts from Monash Education have been working with teachers to explore the use of graphic novels in the classroom and uncover how they can help learners reconnect with reading and writing.

Graphic novels are being lapped up by contemporary readers. The combination of brief text, visual content and popular culture can transform learning in the classroom.
Below Monash Education reveals some ideas that have emerged from its five-year research project.

Graphic novels appear simple yet have complex layers
Graphic novels are extremely sophisticated texts that contain a wide range of literary devices.

Readers need to take in visual, spatial, gestural and linguistic cues. And there’s a real knack to reading them.

Teachers need to explicitly teach students how the design of graphic novels and the different modes of communication operate.

Graphic novels have their own unique visual conventions
With everything from thought and speech bubbles to narrative boxes and sound effects, there are a range of conventions and literary devices students benefit from learning.

This challenges readers at all levels. In particular the combination of visuals and text have supported readers with limited language proficiency.

Graphic novels promote a wide range of language and literacy skills
Graphic novels use limited text but rich visuals and are not simplistic stories. Our research showed that the benefits ranged from exposure to sophisticated vocabulary, increased understanding of literary techniques and capacity to explore social and cultural issues.

Graphic novels also provided an excellent scaffold to teach writing.

A practical way to motivate students
“I was thrilled to find something that hooked them in from the get-go and provided my reluctant writers with an opportunity to shine,” says Kate Wall from Mossgiel Park Primary.

What started as a week-long lesson plan evolved into a six-week unit that culminated in a comic convention.

Ms Wall’s experience has ignited great interest, with graphic novels being used as mentor texts at her school and beyond. Students of all levels could experience success.

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