Teenagers Reading

research for my PhD thesis

Are you sure you don’t like graphic novels?

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When I held focus groups with high school students for my PhD research some of the things they said were very funny – David being a case in point, although it was more what he did that entertained us. (Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)

Stormbreaker David (age 15) was an avid reader, but felt graphic novels were “too short, too simple,” preferring “more complicated” conventional books, which were “better.” At one point David’s classmate Mia (who was passionate about manga) felt his dislike needed reassessment. Her comment was inaudible but David reminded her that he was allowed a contrasting opinion. David had read Stormbreaker: the graphic novel (2006) by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako and Yuzuru, so felt he was informed on the issue. Despite his negative views, during the focus group he began reading Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom (2004) by Ted Naifeh.

Researcher: Do you think you’d try reading any of them, these, after seeing them today? You seem interested in it.
David: Graphic novels? I still think they’re no better than picture books.
Researcher: Yeah? You’re just reading it because it’s there in front of you?
David: Uhmm.
All: [laughter]

Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom A similar conversation was repeated later in the session.

Researcher: Ok, but you think they’re not as good as books, don’t you David?
David: Huh? [David was reading Courtney Crumrin and did not hear the question]
Researcher: You think graphic novels aren’t as good as books? Even though you’re getting so into that one.
David: Yeah.
Researcher: [laughs]

Discussion continued and there was more comment on his reading tastes to come.

Researcher: Are you impressed with that book [Courtney Crumrin] David?
David: Um.
Robert: You can’t say no, can you?
David: I’m reading it.
Researcher: [laughs] Will you read anything?
David: It seems to have lost the plot though. Where I am?
Researcher: Yeah?
David: She’s rocked up at another school.
Mia: I think it’s because you’ve been talking to us and reading at the same time.
David: I can literally do two or more things at the same time.

We never did discover whether David liked Courtney Crumrin or not.

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Written by ClareSnow

11 November 2008 at 5:22 pm

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