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August 10, 2016
I’ve put it off for as long as I could, but it’s finally time to face my most-feared Reading Resolution: #6: I will read a graphic novel.
Don’t get me wrong—I think graphic novels are awesome. They’re great tools for inspiring reluctant readers to read at or above grade level, and they encourage expansion into lots of different genres. Given the popularity of books like Sisters—not to mention the critical acclaim this year for This One Summer and El Deafo—graphic novels are finally getting the praise they deserve.
However, I just wasn’t sure that this particular format was for me. I do most of my reading standing up on a subway car, and and those glossy, brightly colored pages aren’t easy to flip through. (Seriously, why does a graphic novel weigh 17 times as much as a prose novel?) I have trouble getting myself to slow down and actually look at the pictures, as opposed to just reading the dialogue, and then I find myself missing most of the joy of graphic novels.
But I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so although it took me until mid-March to get to a New Year’s resolution, I did get there in the end. I decided to take a look at one of this year’s Newbery Honor winners: El Deafo. Here’s what I learned in the process:
1. Graphic novels still weigh the same mysterious amount they always have. The key to counteracting this is choosing an enthralling story that will take your mind off any earthly discomforts (and maybe another key is to spend a little more time at the gym. Come on, self, it’s a book, not a bag of bricks).
2. I’m not normally a huge fan of nonfiction, biographies, or even realistic family and friendship stories (give me more dragons!). What I loved about El Deafo is that difficult “real life” topics are hidden among among adorable bunny rabbits—and, even better, adorable superhero bunny rabbits! The visual separation between regular Cece and El Deafo—her super alter ego—is clear, offering a perspective that plain text would not provide, and the shift between the realistic and not-so-realistic elements is clear too.
3. Rather than admitting to having procrastinated, I can say that I deliberately waited until now to read El Deafo because March 13th marked the start of Deaf History Month. This month-long celebration of Deaf history and awareness of American Deaf culture is tied to the founding of Gallaudet University, the first American institution for educating students who are deaf or hard of hearing. El Deafo shows us a protagonist who refuses to be held back by her differences—instead, they become her superpower!
4. There’s no such thing as reading a graphic novel too fast, because graphic novels are perfect for re-reads! Rather than pressuring myself to read as slowly as possible, which drives me crazy, I instead decided to read it a few times: once focusing mostly on text, once on images, and once on both together. Because I knew the story pretty well by Round 3, I didn’t feel bogged down by my own reading style.
So there: my reading resolution is complete. I’m not sure it changed me into a die-hard graphic novel fan, but it was a welcome reminder that I shouldn’t assume I won’t like a book just because of its format. Have you tackled anything from our reading resolutions list yet? Don’t worry—there’s still plenty of time left…
About the Author: Nicole is the merchandising manager for the 5th Graders and Middle Schoolers Reading Club catalogs.
March 23, 2015