Teenagers Reading

research for my PhD thesis

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Graphic Novels: New Literacies, New Learning

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The Australian School Library Association NSW is holding a Professional Development day 27 February at the State Library of NSW: New Literacies, New Learning. Two of the speakers are Di Laycock and Allison Lee and they will both be talking about graphic novels. Both have graphic novel collections in their school libraries and encourage the format’s use in class by their teachers. I cited their previous writing on graphic novels in my thesis. If only I didn’t live so far from Sydney.

Di Laycock, Barker College
Different texts for different times (7 – 12)
This session will encourage teachers to consider graphic novels as different texts for different times; as texts capable of bridging the disconnect between students’ lifeworlds and the classroom, and as texts worthy of facilitating the development of multiliteracies in our students. As well as providing an overview of the codes and conventions of the graphic novel format, the theory and research that support the use of graphic novels for learning and teaching will be discussed via reference to specific examples of graphic novels and practical suggestions as to their use.

Allison Lee, Emanuel School
Different texts for different times (K – 6)
Children and young adults who are constantly surrounded by visual stimuli – movies, television, electronic billboards, magazines, computers, palm pilots, video games etc – have learned to associate images with storytelling. It is therefore easy to see why graphic novels have become increasingly popular over the last 10 years or so. This presentation will explain what graphic novels are (and aren’t), provide practical examples for using graphic novels for upper primary students and discuss their value as a classroom tool.

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Written by ClareSnow

20 January 2010 at 4:19 pm

The literature of comics

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She said it took different skills to interpret the interplay of words and pictures in graphic novels – skills that were important in today’s highly visual world.

“You’re actually reading the pictures at the same time that you’re reading the words, so if you’re not used to it that can be very difficult. It’s something you have to learn.”

The above is a quote from Perth’s daily newspaper The West Australian and it was supplied to reporter Bethany Hiatt during an interview with me :) Last week I was interviewed about graphic novels and my research by Education Editor Ms Hiatt. My brain is mush due to thesis, but I actually made some lucid comments that gave the impression my brain is not mush :P On Saturday the article was published [1]. Some of The West Australian’s articles are reprinted online, but comics just don’t cut it. You can only read it if you’re in Perth and you’re one of those people who read the paper. What newspapers already know (and are desperately grasping for ideas on how they can make money from the younger generation who don’t read papers) I have now worked out.

I felt almost famous being in the newspaper. Unfortunately my fame is only among those older people who read the paper. I’m not denigrating the older generation of newspaper readers and I’m not sure what the cut-off age is, but when I txtd my friends to tell them to look for me in the paper, their answers were along these lines:

  • Ignore me (it happens a lot due to most of what I txt being something totally random that I think is enormously funny but no one else does)
  • Tell me to save the article for when we next met up
  • Tell me he’d look at it at work on Monday

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ClareSnow

25 November 2009 at 1:29 am

Real reading vs Literary reading

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I’ve just read Adolescents talk about reading: exploring resistance to and engagement with text by Anne Reeves (International Reading Association, 2004). I found it engaging and useful. Reeves describes her PhD research into teenagers’ views on reading, focusing on five case studies of high school students and their resistance to school reading. Reeves is a former teacher and her book is aimed at teachers, but librarians working with teenagers will benefit from her work.

Before my last post I’d read the following quote, but I couldn’t find it on the weekend (among all those post-it notes), but I just found it. Reeves is discussing popular fiction, particularly the romance fiction that high school student Rosa read voraciously. As I said in my post Real reading, some people think the whole format of graphic novels is inferior to ordinary text books in the same way that popular (genre) fiction is disparaged as not “literary.” Reeves says,

When the reading an adolescent loves is outside the realm of respectable literature, teachers are taught that their job is to move students away from their chosen genres and into the fold of “something better” as quickly as possible. Teachers are given the responsibility for making the young person a more mature reader and thinker who can look upon popular fiction critically and understand why it is “inferior.” (p. 155)

Reeves doesn’t agree with this view, and discusses how teachers can incorporate popular and more literary works into the curriculum to ensure teenagers aren’t alienated by books they don’t enjoy or understand and thus ensure reading does not become a chore to be avoided. This idea can be transferred to teacher librarians, part of whose job is to ensure young people encounter a variety of genres and formats in their reading, without making judgments on supposed “quality.”


Reeves, A. R. (2004) Adolescents talk about reading: exploring resistance to and engagement with text. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Written by ClareSnow

18 March 2008 at 12:30 pm

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