Maybe you feel like you were well advised on how to handle Reluctant Readers, but I was not. It was not covered in my curriculum at Grad school and it was not covered in my reader’s advisory training at the library. I literally learned best practices by working the reference desk with an experienced librarian as these questions came up. Luckily, she gave very sound and up to date advise on how to have a positive impact on these readers.
Kids can become reluctant readers for many reasons. For many children it’s technical, they have a hard time making sense of the words and sentences on the page, the thought of a whole book, with nothing but words, is overwhelming to them. Many kids have the technical ability to read, but don’t have experience reading for fun, so they don’t know how to make a book come alive for them. Many minority children are labeled as “reluctant readers”, but they really just have a hard time connecting to traditional characters. Graphic novels can solve all of these problems.
For the full article click the "Read More" button
For struggling readers, graphic novels can be a second chance to learn the basics. When kids are learning to read, the flash cards, bob books and workbooks all link pictures to words, A is for Apple, D is for Dog, the picture help create context and give clues. Sometime around second grade, the pictures disappear from books, the kids that are still struggling, will often choose not to read unless they have to. It’s hard and they don’t like it. By offering these kids graphic novels, you’re basically introducing them to Easy Readers, with content and vocabulary appropriate for their grade level. Graphic Novels will hold their interest long enough for them to overcome their struggle.
When you or I read a book, the words on the page become like a movie in our minds. It’s really an incredible phenomenon. Many reluctant readers have never had this experience. I think that this is sometimes due to a lack of exposure to picture books when they were young and a continued lack of books in general. The act of reading to a child while they look at a picture really sets them up to be able to create these movies in their mind as they learn to read on their own. By offering these kids a graphic novel that is compatible with their interests, you are in effect jump starting that movie for them. The pictures connect to the words in new ways for these kids, allowing them to have that movie experience that creates readers.
As a little blond girl, I never had a hard time connecting to traditional characters, I could read Charlotte’s Web, Amelia Bedelia, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and feel very in tune with the characters. These books are still fantastic and still available in schools and libraries which is great, but we definitely need to make sure we have books with all different types of main characters. When you have a kid that feels disenfranchised from the characters they are coming into contact with, it’s good to give them something totally different, so they can learn to trust books again. If you hand them a regular book with a minority main character, they might be suspicious, but if you give them a graphic novel with a minority main character, they might be curious.
Graphic novels are great at giving kids a second chance, connecting them to the stories and characters in new ways. These books are available in every single subject, there are fiction, non-fiction, sports books, funny books, adventure books, really everything. They are available for all different reading levels from new readers to adult. They are available for kids that have the patience to read a book for a few days or just a few minutes. Graphic Novels are an incredible tool for librarians and teachers desperately trying to engage reluctant readers.
Let's Collaborate! What’s your tactic for working with Reluctant Readers? Comment below!