ALA Annual 2018

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Graphic Novels #ALAAC18


The first point discussed was that Graphic Novels are a FORMAT rather than a genre. Of course, there are many different genres within the Graphic Novel format. While this may be obvious to us librarians, we must remember that patrons, parents, and educators may not realize this.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Reaching Kids and Families with Graphic Novel Programming was a fantastic session sponsored by the ALSC.  I got lots of great ideas for graphic novel book clubs as well as background to share with those who think of graphic novels as “comic books.”

Benefits of Graphic Novels

1. Graphic novels help children develop VISUAL LITERACY SKILLS.   The format makes readers notice details, visualize things from different angles, and move easily from picture representations to real life.  These are skills needed for computer programming, geometry, problem-solving, and even putting together IKEA furniture.

2. Graphic novels teach readers Literary Devices and Narrative Techniques such as plot, setting, character development, foreshadowing, and back story.

3. All levels of readers benefit from graphic novels.  They are less intimidating for reluctant readers and help build confidence as struggling readers feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish the book.  They often sneak in vocabulary words and trains the brain to decode words and pictures.


Both lecturers lead graphic novel book clubs in their libraries. Some fun ideas to start your own graphic novel book club….

-a family book club for 2nd and 3rd graders and 4th and 5th graders

-at the first meeting, book talk 12 to 16 titles and allow participants to choose some as well as the librarian

– at beginning of the meeting, have the kids give the book a secret rating. At the end,after talking about the book, let them change their rating if they want (the spoiler alert was that these ratings usually go up after discussions)

-when discussing, focus on a literary device and an art device. Use a story cube

-some good resources: “Picture This” by Molly Bang and “Adventures in Cartooning” by James Sturm

-look for diverse stories and genres and look for community partnerships (I.e. a local roller derby when reading “Roller Girl.”

It was another great session at the American Library Association Annual Conference 2018.  And, now after a delicious New Orleans themed lunch, I am off to another session!


One comment

  1. Pingback: French Comics Panel Discussion #alaac18 - ALSC Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *