I hope you have been enjoying my posts. This week, I’m trying something new: I’m going to blog about how I am using some of these books in my graphic novel class. Today I will talk about Free Read Friday!
Every Friday I give my graphic novel class an opportunity to free read any comic or graphic novel that I have in my classroom collection or that’s in our school library, and I/we have a big collection.
That’s actually not my classroom, it’s Alternate Reality on 111th and Kedzie in beautiful Downtown Mt. Greenwood, but I do not have a picture of my collection on my phone, and I’m at home, so deal with it! I promise a picture of my classroom comics racks tomorrow.
So every Friday, my students select single issues and/or graphic novels, and they just read. I know it sounds weird, but over the three Fridays that I’ve done this, about 90% of the students are on task and reading the entire period. I did a tally of the books the students have read so far in my class over the first 3 1/2 weeks of school, and the total is 126. 126 books have already been read by my graphic novel class, and it’s only September 12th. Cool, right?
The English department in my district is pushing independent reading in our classes, and while it’s hard to get kids to independently read in most normal English classes that I’ve taught, it’s not difficult in the graphic novel class, even with the kids that are new to the medium. If you asked me what I attribute this to, I’d have to answer with two points:
1.) We cannot discount the visual aspect. We live in a visual society, and it only makes sense that kids are attracted to images. Graphic novels are like films that the students can watch at their own pace in the privacy of their own head.
2.) There is a sense of accomplishment in finishing a book, and for people that have a hard time finishing regular novels, the rush of finishing a book and picking up another and finishing that one as well…and then another…is a feeling that many of our students do not know. Heck, many of my students admit that they have not completed a book in high school until my class senior year. I appreciate their honesty.
I encourage you to start your own graphic novel/comics library in your classroom, if you can. I know that there are obstacles that we face such as time and funding, but if you are able to…do it. Promote it. Give students a chance to finish multiple books over the span of a few weeks. Celebrate them. Make them readers.
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