Graphic Novel Review 102/365: Further Reflections Pt. 2

This post is a continuation of my conversation from yesterday.  If you did not read it, please start there by clicking here.

If you did not click and did not read, I was discussing student enthusiasm for reading…or lack there of.  And I ended by complaining about my Best Selling Novels class not wanting to read novels.

Yesterday, my 2nd period made me sad, and my first Film & Lit class felt a little bummy as well, but I’ll chalk that up to what happened 2nd period lingering with me.  But then came my Graphic Novels class.  I was excited to introduce a new book: Oni Press’ Scott Pilgrim!  I love this book so much.

I gave the kids a quick intro to the series, telling them about the black & white books, the switch to bigger color books, the film, my quest to meet Bryan Lee O’Malley (because he has created the book that has saved me as a teacher on more than one occasion), etc.  Then I handed out the books (new edition/full color), and we read up until Scott’s first vision of Ramona.  And for the duration of the first chapter, the kids were totally into it.  Laughing, asking questions, shouting out “This book is raw as hell!”  Yes, a student did shout that, and that’s when I knew, I had them hooked into Pilgrim!

We then watched the first chunk of the film up to where we stopped in the book, and we discussed the awesome similarities between the book and the film.  Then I told them to stop reading ahead (which many of them wanted to do), and we left for the day.

Today, a student reminded me that it was Free Read Friday, a day to read any comic/graphic novel that they want, BUT the kids protested; they wanted more Pilgrim.  So we voted, and the class almost unanimously voted to not free read, but read Pilgrim.  Then we proceeded to enjoy more of the book and the film.  We laughed, talked about character, and compared the two fantastic interpretations.  No official assignment, just a group of kids and a teacher enjoying a cool story about a bad-ass Canadian…

I went from thinking that reading was dead to being brought back from the dead by Scott Pilgrim, in less than two-hours.  Reading isn’t dead.  But the novel as we’ve known it for centuries might be, soon.

Look, times changing, and they are changing quickly.  Remember not long ago when we were still using the smaller floppy disks to save essays?  Remember USB drives?  Remember when we didn’t have smart phones?  Those days were not that long ago!  Parts of our society shift and change more quickly than others, and sometimes, we cannot predict or prepare ourselves for these paradigm shifts.

I think books are going through one of those shifts right now.

A couple of years ago kids decided to stop doing homework, and the schools quickly followed with “Home work is bad!  We need to give less homework!”  Since when is practice bad?!  Schools said that because kids stopped doing homework, grades dropped, and schools had to bend to the kids’ wants.  Then a bunch of people put out books about how homework was bad to make a buck, and all of a sudden, homework is bad.

This is currently happening with books.

Kids have decided to stop reading books…or what we have known as the traditional novel, I should say.

Sure your AP kids might read a book or two.  Or at least Sparknote some stuff every now and then, but reading novels in schools is almost done.  I give it five years until schools start the same dialogue as homework.  And please buy my book first because I’m not an opportunist, I’m a realist that sees it coming.  Publishers, hit a brother up!  I want in on that no book money…

This is exactly why graphic novels are seeing a big inclusion in the classroom.  It’s a book where kids can watch and read images: what they have been raised to do with social media.  Graphic novels, short fiction, short non-fiction, and video will eventually replace novels.  Things shift, things change…no one writes five-act plays anymore, right?

I know this is a much bigger conversation.  And I will continue to engage in and with it.  And I do not have any hard statistics to back this up right now, but I’m going to start looking into the research.  I just have my experiences and the experiences of others that are and have been coming to me with stories similar to my own.

The winds have whispered to me, and they told me that the only reason you read this far was because I included three pictures, and it is digital.  If you printed this out to read it, shame on you.

Happy reading!

Eric

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