The Impact of Reading Graphic Novels

The Impact of Reading Graphic Novels

On Student Motivation

& Comprehension


Susan Hines, Mountain View Elementary,

5th grade

Katy Dellinger, Lincolnton Middle School,

7th grade

Appalachian State University


For our collective years of teaching elementary and middle school children with special needs, we have found that by the time our students get to third grade, they either love reading or absolutely despise it. One of the main reasons our students dislike reading is because they struggle significantly with reading, and for this reason, they have not found anything to read that excites them or motivates them to want to read more. An expectation at our schools is that all Language Arts teachers require their students to complete home reading logs throughout the week or the students are required to read a certain number of books to accumulate Accelerated Reading (AR) points. They are to read at least 30 minutes per night and then record what they have read or keep an AR log. The problem here is that if the students are not motivated to read then they will not do their homework, which leads to lower homework grades, and could possibly lead to failing report card grades. This, in turn, frustrates the students even more about the thought of reading. As the students’ frustrations build, they spend less and less time reading. They fall further and further behind in their reading skills and in their general academic knowledge learned from reading. Additionally, it is a challenge to find material on the student’s instructional reading level that is appropriate for interest at their age level.

During one of our classes through this graduate program, we were introduced to the genre of graphic novels. Sad as it may seem, neither of us had never before even picked up a graphic novel. Many reasons come to my mind. However, when forced to do research about graphic novels, we were challenged to read one as part of a class assignment. While studying and exploring our chosen graphic novels, we came to the realization that graphic novels were more than just silly comics. One of the most interesting things about graphic novels is that there is a lot of content involved from which the students can learn. There are some that cover biographical information (Anne Frank), and others cover historical perspectives (Maus) and scientific information (Magic School Bus). They have rich plots and deal with themes relevant to our students today. They help struggling readers understand and comprehend the text much better by using the support of illustrations.

The material in the general classroom is often above our student’s instructional reading level and the programmed interventions used in EC classrooms do not provide enough practice in reading text. We wanted our research to discover if incorporating graphic novels on children’s instructional reading level into the reading intervention programs in the EC classes would aid in the motivation of reluctant readers to read more and be more involved in text. In addition, we wanted our research to answer these questions: Can incorporating graphic novels on student’s instructional reading level into programmed intervention programs: 1) increase student motivation to spend more time reading? 2) increase student’s comprehension of reading?

Research Review

Using effective strategies and materials that appeal to learners’ interests can improve the reading abilities of reluctant readers and help them comprehend the subject matter found in content area books (Ambe, 2007). In Schwertner’s Action Research Project the results indicated students had increased motivation and confidence in reading by reading graphic novels in literature circles. She made the following points: a). the literature circles created a feeling of a “community of readers” that helped students become “absorbed” in books; b). the graphic novel offer visuals that are helpful for the reluctant reader who cannot visualize what he is reading along with a shorter text that appeals to reluctant readers; c). the graphic novel aided critical reading as the students not only decode words but also analyzed visuals along with literary elements and connected the two; d). graphic novels address current, relevant, complex social issues that the students related to (Schwertner, 2008). Struggling readers are often not able to visualize what they are reading. The graphics in a graphic novel support the text and allows the reader to focus on meaning in order to comprehend the story (Smetana, 2010). It is well known that students who have difficulty reading do not spend much time in this activity. They do not see themselves as readers. Smetana makes the point that the different format of graphic novels and sophistication of the stories are motivating and engage their attention. When students begin to be successful, they want to continue to read. Griffith reports that students who were identified as having a learning disability, self-reported that graphic novels motivated them to read and aided their comprehension (Griffith, 2010).

In B. Edward’s findings, reading graphic novels and Free Voluntary Reading Time (FVR), increased student time in text and student’s enjoyment of reading and as a result they were more critical readers. The results also indicated an increase in comprehension exercises and greater growth in comprehension (Edwards, 2008). In Snowball’s article, she states that children who read for pleasure show improvements in reading, writing, and vocabulary and acquire these skills without conscious effort. Teenage reluctant readers are attracted to comics. They are an invaluable tool for

motivating reluctant readers. Additionally, teens today have so much to keep them occupied and are surrounded by increasingly complex media, their expectations for entertainment is high. They have been raised in a very visual world. Comics provide the teens the opportunity to experience reading for entertainment on several different levels (Snowball, 2005). When Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Francisco offered a graphic novel book club, it became so popular, they had a waiting list to get in. Further, students who had read only required books in the past, continued to return to the school library for recreational reading. This confirms the impact that graphic novels have on reading motivation (Seyfried, 2008).

The quality of the value of graphic novels has been questioned by reading teachers and parents. Some see the graphic novels as just picture books with no educational value. Schwarz suggests that reading graphic novels may require more complex cognitive skills than reading text alone (Schwarz, 2002). Furthermore, in any subject area, studying a graphic novel can bring media literacy into the curriculum as students examine the medium itself (Schwarz, 2002).

This research supports forming literature groups that focus on graphic novels to be an approach to increase struggling reader’s motivation to spend more time reading and engaging in text. The graphics help the reader visualize what they are reading, thus aiding in comprehension. It is important for students to understand that these books share the same literary qualities as other books (Smetana, 2008).


We each worked with a small group of students (5) and most receive EC services in reading and writing. Their instructional reading levels range from on grade level to four grade levels below expectations.

Susan teaches at Mountain View Elementary School in Hickory, North Carolina with an enrollment of 710 students ranging from grades Kindergarten through 6th grade. Twenty-three percent of the students at this regular school receive free and reduced lunch. Eighty-three percent of the students are Caucasian, seven percent are African-American, two percent are Hispanic, seven percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, and the remainder of the population is American Indian/Alaskan Native.

Katy teaches at Lincolnton Middle School in Lincoln County with an enrollment of 670 students ranging from grades 6th through 8th. Seventy percent of the school’s population receives free and reduced lunch. Twenty-three percent of the population is Limited English Proficiency, twenty percent is African-American, and fifty-seven percent is Caucasian. Lincolnton Middle School falls into the category of being a Title 1 school.

Susan’s Students

Susan worked with a 5th grade group, 3 boys and 2 girls. The EC students receive direct instruction in reading and writing in a “resource” setting .Their EC teacher uses the “Language!” program for 45 minutes daily. The students then receive additional instruction from an instructional specialist (45 minutes) for comprehension strategies with other students who are struggling readers, but who are not identified as EC.

Molly is a 5th grade EC student (Specific Learning Disabled). She scored a Level one on her 4th grade EOG (Extend 2, Alternate Assessment) in reading. On 3/7/11, her STAR Assessment instructional reading level was 1.5. Molly’s auditory comprehension is stronger than her reading comprehension and she does not have confidence in her reading ability. She reads at home most nights. She has been served in the EC program for two years. She had been reading a Junie B. Jones book.

Kyle is a 5th grade EC student (Specific Learning Disabled). He is also an ELL student. He scored a Level 2 on his 4th grade EOG (Extend 2, Alternate Assessment) in reading. On 3/7/11, his STAR Assessment instructional reading level was 3.1. Kyle does not enjoy reading. He does not consistently read independently at home. He has been served in the EC program for two years. English is not spoken in his home. He was not currently reading any book independently.

John is a 5th grade EC student (Specific Learning Disabled). He scored a Level 3 on his 4th grade EOG (Extend 2, Alternate Assessment) in reading. On 3/7/11, his STAR Assessment instructional reading level was 3.4. John has focusing issues. He wants to read what other students are reading and is frustrated with reading lower level books. He does consistently read independently at home. He has been served in the EC program for three years. He had been reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Zeb is a 5th grade EC student (Other Health Impaired). He scored a Level 3 on his 4th grade EOG (Extend 2, Alternate Assessment) in reading. On 3/7/11, his STAR Assessment instructional reading level was 4.1 He has difficulty staying on task when he has to exert mental control. He does not consistently read independently at home. He needs frequent prompting to read. He has been served in the EC program for three years. He had been reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Holly is a 5th grade EC student (Specific Learning Disabled). She scored a Level 2 on her 4th grade EOG in reading. On 3/7/11, her STAR Assessment instructional reading level was 4.5. She is beginning to enjoy reading and becoming confident in her reading abilities. She consistently reads independently at home. She has been served in the EC program for four years. She has found a series of books she enjoys reading, Beverly Clearly books.

Katy’s Students

Katy worked with a group of 7th graders, 3 boys and 2 girls. Three of the students are EC; one of the students has a 504 plan because of his Autism and is also an LEP student. One of the boys is a regular education student who just happens to fall in the Inclusion Language Arts classroom. All students except for one of the girls is in the Inclusion Language Arts classroom. The last girl is in the Language Arts Resource class. All five students receive Language Arts instruction (reading and writing) each day a week for 60 minutes each. The student in the Resource classroom also receives an additional 30 minutes of Corrective Reading instruction to help with decoding and fluency skills while the other students are involved in SSR during the mornings.

Emory is a 7th grade EC student. His instructional reading level is 7th grade. He is a general education student who enjoys reading in his free time. He walks to the bookstore near his home to purchase books with his allowance. He reads high level reading material such as The Shack. He has very good reading comprehension. He enjoys reading graphic novels. He rarely completes his home reading logs.

Eduardo is a 7th grade EC student. His instructional reading level is 6th grade. He is an ESL student who enjoys reading, especially Harry Potter books and graphic novels such as the Bone series. He enjoys reading graphic novels. He completes his home reading logs most of the time, but he struggles on reading benchmarks and EOGs.

Sierra is a 7th grade EC student with a learning disability in math only. She just moved to Lincoln County from Georgia in November, 2010. Her instructional reading level is 6th grade. She is a regular education student in the Inclusion Language Arts class, but is served in the Math Resource Class. She is very motivated and enjoys reading Nicholas Sparks’ books.

Austin is a 7th grade EC student. His instructional reading level is 4th grade. He has a Learning Disability in Basic Reading and Reading Comprehension. His mannerisms are eccentric and he is only motivated to read when it is something he enjoys. He is very unorganized and hardly ever turns in homework. He is served in the Inclusion Language Arts class.

Tiffany is a 7th grade EC student. Her instructional reading level is 2nd grade. She participates in the Corrective Reading Program. She is ADHD and struggles to maintain attention during reading class. She enjoys math class, but does not like to read out loud in class. She is in the Resource class for math and reading and takes the Extend 2 reading EOG.

Intervention Plan/Instructional Procedure

We met with the students twice a week for 45 minutes for four weeks. We led the groups in reading a graphic novel through a “Literature Reading Circle” and discussion. The groups previewed a collection of graphic novels and chose which book they wanted to read together as a group. Simultaneously, the students were asked to read graphic novels during their independent reading time at school and at home. They kept a log of the books they read and the amount of time spent reading. They also responded to their graphic novels on a class blog.

Week One: The students previewed the collection of graphic novels. We led the group in a class discussion on how the students feel about reading and what they thought about the graphic novels. The Surveys were administered, “How I Feel About Reading” (Garfield) Survey and “What I Know About Graphic Novels.” The surveys were read aloud to the students. The students were given instructions that they would need to keep a “Reading Log” for their independent reading. They had the choice to read from the graphic novel collection or another book of their choosing. They were shown how to get on the Class Reading Blog and how to maneuver within the blog. We explained to them that they would write responses about their graphic novels on the blog.

The students were given pre-comprehension selections on their instructional levels. These were reading selections with multiple choice answers. (A teacher survey was also given to the students’ teachers on their reading interventions and their students reading practices.)

Week Two: We checked reading logs each day we met and discussed what they were reading and their thoughts about the graphic novels and recorded anecdotal notes. We discussed the “Literature Circle” and the roles of the members with the guided “role sheets.” We modeled the roles for them this week with the plan for the students to take over the roles next week. We read the graphic novel each day, taking turns, and discussed the following: main ideas of the chapters, time progression and what happened to characters during time progression, illustrations and how they supported text, text-to-self connections, and predictions. They entered responses to the readings on the blog.

Week Three: We checked reading logs and discussed what they were reading and their thoughts about graphic novels and if their ideas about graphic novels had changed. We recorded anecdotal notes. We explained the roles for the “Literature Circle” and the students took over roles to lead discussions as we took turns reading. The students had different roles each day we read. Again discussions revolved around the following: main ideas of the chapters, time progression and what happened to characters during time progression, illustrations and how they supported text, text-to-self connections, and predictions. They entered responses to the reading on the blog.

Week Four: We checked reading logs and discussed what they were reading and their thoughts about graphic novels at this point. We recorded anecdotal notes. We finished reading the graphic novel with discussions similar to Weeks two and three. We administered the surveys again, “How I Feel About Reading” (Garfield Survey and “What I Know About Graphic Novels.” We gave them post-comprehension selections on their instructional reading level. They entered a blog responding to their thoughts on graphic novels.

Data Collection

“How I Feel About Reading” (Garfield) pre and post survey: We administered before and after the study to compare scores. This was read aloud to the students.

“What I Know About Graphic Novels” pre and post survey: We administered before and after the study to compare scores. This was read aloud to the students.

Pre and post Comprehension assessment: A reading selection on student’s instructional reading level was given before and after the study to compare the level of text comprehension. These were reading selections with multiple choice answers that were created on EOG Test Maker. With this program, selections can be created for student’s instructional reading level. The objectives were controlled so that they were the same for the Pretest and Post Test.

Informal observations of daily class notes, conferences and student journals were recorded.

Reading Journals (blogs) and home/independent reading logs: Journals and reading logs were monitored and data was compared about students reading selections, time spent reading, and content and length/quality of blog entries.

Teacher Interview: This interview asked the teachers about their students, their student’s reading practices and the teacher’s strategies and interventions to help struggling readers as well as how the teachers differentiate.

Data Analysis

Data was stored in folders. Each child had a folder with raw data and was kept secured in a file cabinet. Data was shared between partners via email attachments.

1. Data from Garfield Inventory (pre and post) results was collected and entered into a

spreadsheet/graph to compare student responses.

2. Data from comprehension pre and post test was collected and entered into a

spreadsheet/graph for comparison.

3. Data from home/independent logs were collected and analyzed.

4. Informal notes and observations from the following were collected and analyzed

using the codes below* and entered into a spreadsheet/graph for comparison.

a. Data from questionnaire, “What Do I Know About Graphic Novels?”

b. Teacher interviews

c. Reading Journals (Blogs)

d. Anecdotal notes from class discussions

*PC: positive comment

CN: comprehension of text meaning noted

SPI: student participation in class discussion

SPC: student’s participation independently in journal blog


Instructional Reading Levels

Both of us picked the group of students to work with throughout our study and we assessed each one of them with either an informal reading inventory or STAR assessment. The results for each of the students are listed below. (Tables 1A and 1B)

Table 1A

|5th grade Student: |Instructional Level according to STAR Assessment: |

|Molly |1.5 |

|Kyle |3.1 |

|John |3.4 |

|Zeb |4.1 |

|Holly |4.5 |

Table 1B

|7th grade Student: |Frustration Level: |Instructional Level: |Independent Level: |

|Emory |8th |7th |6th |

|Tiffany |3rd |2nd |1st |

|Austin |5th |4th |3rd |

|Sierra |7th |6th |5th |

|Eduardo |7th |6th |5th |

*Levels were based on ASU Informal Reading Inventory.

After compiling all of the data from each student according to their instructional level, we had to pick out graphic novels which matched up to the students’ instructional levels. Graphic novels were checked out in the school libraries, in classroom libraries, and brought from home to create a wide selection from which the students could pick. Each group of students was allowed to pick out the graphic novels they wanted to read together as a group. Then each student was given the opportunity to select a graphic novel to read independently in order to complete his or her graphic novel reading logs.

Garfield Attitude Survey

The Garfield Attitude Survey was conducted on the first day we were with our group of students. Both the 5th grade and the 7th grade students had the survey read aloud to them and they were given explicit directions on how to answer each of the questions. The results are listed in the table below. (Tables 2A and 2B)

Table 2A

|5th grade |Pre-Survey (3/7/2011) | |

|Emory |1 |3 |

|Tiffany |2 |5 |

|Sierra |2 |4 |

|Austin |3 |6 |

|Eduardo |1 |2 |

The results for Mrs. Hines’ class were as follows:

Table 3B

|Student: |# of Entries posted: |# of Responses posted: |

|Molly |4 |0 |

|Zeb |3 |1 |

|John |5 |2 |

|Kyle |3 |0 |

|Holly |4 |1 |

This was also considered optional because several of the students in the group did not have access to a computer with internet. Time was given to the students during the study to either read their graphic novel or respond to the blogs. It was fascinating to see how quickly the students could learn to maneuver through the blogs and respond to one another about the books that they were reading and/or what they know/don’t know about graphic novels.

Reading Logs

Students were also asked to read a graphic novel independently in addition to the graphic novel read during the literature circle and complete a graphic novel reading log. The reading log that was given to each student in the study had a designated spot to fill out the title of the book that the student was reading, number of pages read, a comment about the book, and the date.

At both Lincolnton Middle School and Mountain View Elementary School, each student in a Language Arts class is responsible for completing and turning in a home reading log weekly. This counts as a homework/participation grade for that student. However, even though this is universal, it is up to the Language Arts Teacher’s discretion as to how many nights per week a student is responsible for reading in order for a reading log to be counted as complete. At Lincolnton Middle School, students are responsible for reading 30 minutes nightly for a total of 4 nights. At Mountain View, they are responsible for reading at least 20 minutes each weeknight and accumulate a specified number of Accelerated Reader points. Before beginning the study, we both discussed with the Language Arts teachers of the students in our study if they would count the graphic novel reading log as the student’s home reading log. The teachers were very pleased with this because the students in the study were the majority of the students who would inconsistently turn in reading logs anyways, which would in turn lower their grades in that class.

Completion of Reading Logs (# of entries completed):

Table 4

|Student: |Week 1 |Week 2 |

|Molly (5th) |60 |70 |

|Kyle (5th) |20 |30 |

|John (5th) |30 |60 |

|Zeb (5th) |60 |70 |

|Holly (5th) |50 |70 |

|Emory (7th) |24 |84 |

|Tiffany (7th) |20 |72 |

|Eduardo (7th) |40 |80 |

|Austin (7th) |20 |86 |

|Sierra (7th) |16 |76 |

As you can see from the comparison of the pretest and the posttest, all of the students’ scores increased in their comprehension skills. This could have been caused by numerous things, which will be discussed later on.

Literature Circle

During the weeks of interventions, the students were assigned roles in a literature circle. Before reading the book, students were asked to make predictions about what they think the book will be about and what the characters will be like. We also discussed elements of fiction. The novel that was selected was the book the group agreed on after previewing different graphic novels within the classroom. The activities that took place during and after reading were led by different roles in the group, which were assigned and explained daily by us.

The “Discussion Leader” led the group. The “Picture Reader” used the guide to draw a few graphics and to explain what the picture is telling the reader. The “Travel Tracker” kept track of the setting of the story and kept up with where the characters were during the selection read. The “Gist Expert” worked with the group to decide on the main idea of the selection. The “Predictor” was in charge of predicting what would happen next in the story along with providing evidence for their rationale. The “Connector” of the group helped the group to make connections between the reader and the text. Each student was given a role sheet to complete each day for the particular role that he or she played throughout the literature discussion.

Daily Roles of the Group:

Table 6A

|5th grade |Picture Reader |Travel Tracker |Gist Expert |Predictor |Connector |

|Emory |Emory stated that he enjoys |Emory is reading Tall|Emory says he is |Emory said he keeps |Emory said that he |

| |graphic novels because there |Tales and says that |reading Tall Tales |forgetting to fill |enjoys Cyrano but |

| |are a lot of pictures and they |is he is enjoying the|along with another |out his GN reading |that it is not one of|

| |are interesting. PC Emory, |book. SPI He created |book for SSR. He |log, but that he |his favorite books |

| |along with his peers, made |a blog about what he |says he has not had |reads at home. He |that he has read. He |

| |accurate predictions about what|knows about GN and |time to fill out his |helps the group |said he has finished |

| |the story was going to be |responded to another |GN reading log. He |during the lit. |Tall Tales. He turned|

| |about. CN |student. SPI PC |did not have much to |circle by helping |in a total of 5 GN |

| | | |say today during the |them to make accurate|logs. |

| | | |lit. circle. |predictions and make | |

| | | | |connections with the | |

| | | | |text to the real | |

| | | | |world. PC CN SPC | |

| | | | |Emory blogged and | |

| | | | |said “I do not get | |

| | | | |the whole play thing,| |

| | | | |but am enjoying it | |

| | | | |anyways.” PC SPC | |

|Eduardo |Eduardo was the gist expert |Eduardo is reading |Eduardo has asked |Eduardo checked out |Eduardo said he |

| |today and his job was to tell |The Curse of Egypt |several times if he |another book and is |enjoyed reading |

| |the main idea of what was |and has blogged once |could take home a |reading a Manga book.|Cyrano and says he |

| |happening in Cyrano today. He |about what he knows |copy of Cyrano so he |He has completed 6 GN|cannot wait until |

| |also helped in making |about GN. He said |could read it |reading log entries |spring break so he |

| |predictions. CN SPC he also |they are filled with |himself. He has |up to this point. SPI|can read more of the |

| |stated that he loves reading GN|action and lots of |already finished | |Manga books. PC |

| |for the fun of it. PC |pictures. PC SPI SPC |reading The Curse of | | |

| | | |Egypt but he has not | | |

| | | |blogged recently. PC | | |

| | | |SPI He is always | | |

| | | |active in the lit. | | |

| | | |circle. He also asked| | |

| | | |if he could check out| | |

| | | |another book to read | | |

| | | |since he has already | | |

| | | |finished the last | | |

| | | |one. | | |

|Tiffany |Tiffany was the picture reader |Tiffany is reading |Tiffany read aloud |She started reading |Tiffany started |

| |during the lit. circle. She |Lunch Lady and says |today but she had |The Clique today, |reading Diary of a |

| |made a comment about how she |she is enjoying the |trouble following the|which was recommended|Wimpy Kid and she |

| |was excited to read Cyrano |book. PC SPI She |dialogue bubbles. |by Sierra. She bought|stated that she liked|

| |because it looks like there may|borrowed this book |She needed my help |this book at the book|this book the best |

| |be something about romance. PC |from me because she |with some of the |fair. PC SPC She has |out of all of the GN |

| |SPI CN |could not find one |words also. She was |blogged several times|she had read so far. |

| | |that seemed |the gist expert and |and she does this at |She said it was |

| | |interesting to her to|did a good job |home. SPI |easier to follow than|

| | |start reading. She |telling the group | |the other GN novels |

| | |struggled reading |what the main idea | |that we had read and |

| | |aloud to day with |is. It amazes me how | |she stated that |

| | |decoding. The words |well her listening | |Cyrano was kind of |

| | |may be too hard for |comp is when she | |difficult to read and|

| | |her. She kept on |struggles so much | |understand. SPI SPC |

| | |asking if she could |with decoding. PC SPI| |She said she will |

| | |read out loud. SPI |SPC | |read more of the |

| | |SPC | | |Diary of a Wimpy Kid |

| | | | | |books. She asked if |

| | | | | |they had them in the |

| | | | | |school library. PC |

| | | | | |Tiffany has turned in|

| | | | | |5 GN logs. SPI |

|Austin |Austin stated the only times he|Austin asked if he |Austin has made |Austin blogged by |Austin says he will |

| |enjoys reading is when he gets |could read aloud |several responses to |telling the other |continue reading all |

| |to read a GN but his teachers |today and was very |the other students |students they should |of the GN that he can|

| |would prefer him to read |enthusiastic about |about their GN novels|read Tales from the |find and he enjoyed |

| |something other than “picture |reading. He has made |and the GN we are |Crypt because it was |learning more about |

| |books”. PC SPI CN He made an |several posts to the |reading together. He |very good! PC SPI SPC|them even though he |

| |accurate prediction about the |blog and to his |states that he has | |had read “too many to|

| |story. |classmates. His |completed several GN | |count”. Austin |

| | |response to one was |reading logs. Austin | |turned in a total of |

| | |“same here sister”. |is reading Tales from| |6 GN reading logs. |

| | |PC SPI SPC I have had|the Crypt and states | | |

| | |to remind them that |that he enjoys | | |

| | |they are to give |reading this series | | |

| | |feedback and not |of books. He has | | |

| | |treat it as facebook.|followed along and | | |

| | | |paid very close | | |

| | | |attention throughout | | |

| | | |the lit. circle | | |

| | | |group. | | |

|Sierra |Sierra stated that she is |Sierra began reading |Sierra finished |Sierra said on her |She says she believes|

| |unaware of what GN are, but she|Rose today and she |reading Rose and now |blog, “Rose is cool |are make believe and |

| |loves to read all kinds of |says she really likes|she is reading The |and it is about a man|are just for fun, but|

| |books. PC SPC SPI |it. She has filled |Clique which she |and a dinosaur.” She |she said they are |

| | |out her GN reading |bought from the book |thinks The Clique is |cool. PC SPC SPI |

| | |log. CN PC SPI |fair. She says this |much better because |Sierra turned in a |

| | | |is her favorite book |she can relate to it |total of 10 GN |

| | | |so far. She shows a |more than Rose. PC |reading logs. |

| | | |lot of excitement in |SPI | |

| | | |reading her GN. | | |

Teacher Interview

Another piece of data that was collected was from the teachers that work with the students in our research study. We interviewed the teachers and asked them several different questions pertaining to how their students read and how the students feel about reading. Once we gathered the information we discussed the results together to form a collective chart with the questions teachers were asked and the answers. (Table 8)

|Questions Asked: |Teacher Answers: |

|What do you see as your students’ weaknesses in reading? |Decoding ability and fluency which affects comprehension |

|What do you see as your students’ strengths in reading? |Listening comprehension skills |

|What strategies have you used to increase student comprehension? |Book talks, DRTA, Marzano strategies to build vocabulary |

|Do your students do home reading? |Are required to, but not all of them do it |

|Do your students choose to read in their free time? |Some (the students who read at or above grade level) |

|Do your students choose books on their instructional level? |Some (the students who read at or above grade level); others |

| |choose books that are too hard for them for fear of being made |

| |fun of their reading material |

|Do they choose a variety of books or the same type of books? |Most of them always choose the same type of books; if a student |

| |reads Harry Potter books then that student will always have a |

| |Harry Potter book in their hand |

|What do your students say about reading? |That it is a chore instead of something fun |

|How do you keep students motivated with the different level of |Partner read, literature groups |

|abilities in class? | |

|How do you differentiate for different reading levels? |Try to provide reading material on the students’ instructional |

| |levels; can be very difficult |

What Do the Results Say?

After conducting the Garfield Attitude Surveys, it was determined that over the course of the study 9 out of 10 of our participants increased their attitudes toward reading. Only one student had decreased their attitude toward reading. Many factors could have contributed to the particular student’s decrease. One of which could be the environmental struggles that seemed to be going on over the four weeks with his family. It could also be determined that the increase in scores from the attitude surveys could have been because the students wanted to please their teachers, even though they were told to be very honest with their answers. However, it could also be proven that graphic novels were something of interest to the students and once they started reading one, they became intrigued, and wanted to learn more about them.

Another observation from the test results of both the pre and post attitude surveys is that the recreational score increased from the pretest to the post test. This explains that after being a part of the research study, many of the students found that over the course of the 4 weeks, reading can actually be fun and entertaining instead of a chore. Most of the students had positive things to say about reading graphic novels, which correlates to the increase in recreational reading scores from the Garfield Attitude Survey.

In comparison to the pretest and posttest on comprehension, all of the students showed an increase in their comprehension skills by a measure of at least 10%. It has been determined that this could be the direct result of a literature circle or book talk with each member of the group having an active role. During the literature discussion students were asked to think about the elements of fiction such as plot, characters, and setting, and then to synthesize what would happen next by making connections with the text to the real world. When reading independently, students would not have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers and discuss the important aspects of the story. This shows how beneficial a literature group can be within a Language Arts classroom.

With that said, even though the students showed an increase in their comprehension skills when comparing the pre-assessment to the post-assessment, all of the students have solid listening comprehension skills which help them in class discussions. The level of understanding for the students did increase but not a significant amount. Students still made accurate predictions as they normally would and followed along with the text as they normally would.

It is safe to say that when students participate in literature circles on a desirable subject matter, students will have a higher chance of increasing comprehension test scores. The student’s increase in comprehension scores could have been impacted by the focus of the Literature Circles - elements of fiction and discussions on how the graphics impacted the literature.

Students also showed an increase in their feelings toward graphic novels. Many students, especially the 7th grade boys, were already aware of what graphic novels were and they enjoyed them. However, over time, more of the students saw graphic novels as something they “could not take their hands off of”.

There was not enough time to show that independent reading practices increased when given the opportunity to read a new genre. Some students still struggled in completing their home reading logs, but several of them did increase. This could be due to the fact that they knew they would be discussing what they were reading at home with us, and we would be holding them accountable. Students also utilized the internet blogging and many of them seemed to enjoy this much better than writing their entries on paper. The length of this study was not long enough to impact student independent reading practices. Those who usually read, read the graphic novels. Those who don’t read, did not.

Overall, there was no significant change in the independent reading practices for both the 5th and 7th grade groups. Student reading levels did not play a factor in reading interest, because the higher level readers were still not motivated in completing reading logs. However, this did not prove that the students were not motivated in reading, instead, just not completing homework.

Reading graphic novels created a curiosity in a new genre of literature which renewed some interest in reading. Any time struggling students show an interest in reading, it is worth building on.

For Future Research

Including Graphic Novels as a genre to study in class can keep students interested in topics relevant to their age. Graphic Novels can be beneficial for students who read below, at, or even above grade level. Graphic Novels will keep students with different reading abilities motivated in reading.

Offering Graphic Novels for independent reading can provide the struggling reader an alternative to full text material. Students who struggle with reading can use the visuals to predict what the text says and what will happen next. This will assist them in learning novel vocabulary words, but will also help with decoding and fluency skills as well.

As EC teachers, we can advocate for the application of graphic novels for our students. Many students with Learning Disabilities need the extra assistance that can be provided with graphic novels. Students can use the pictures to learn about a specific content. Graphic Novels should be looked at as a way of using the graphics and illustrations to teach content subjects for struggling readers. It is a great modification for both special and general education students.

Literature Circle

The students will read the book together in their group, taking turns or reading in pairs. Before, during and after reading the students will take place in book talk in a “Literature Circle.” Preview the book before reading making predictions about what they think the book will be about and what the characters will be like? Also, discuss elements of fiction. The first novel was selected and agreed upon by the students after they previewed several different graphic novels from a selection of ten books. The activities during and after reading will be led by the different roles in the group. The roles will need to be explained to the students before the Literature Circle begins. These are adapted from several different collaborative strategies (Schwertner and Birsh).

The “Discussion Leader” will lead the group. The “Picture Reader” will use the guide to draw a few graphics and explain what the picture is telling the reader. The “Travel Tracker” will track the setting of the story and keep up with where the characters were during the section read. The “Gist Expert” works with the group to decide on the best gist (main idea) of the selection. The “Predictor” will predict what will happen next in the story. The “Connector” helps the group make connections between reader and the text. The students will be given role sheets to help them with their roles. The roles will change during the duration of the book. After they have completed the group session, they will respond in their blog journal.

Discussion Leader

Instructions: Start by asking the group members about a part of the story that excites them. Explain why this part is (was) so exciting or interesting. Make sure you comment on each others’ responses. Don’t let the discussion die! Keep it moving.

Discussion starters:

Finish the Statement:

1. What did you think when....

2. How did you feel when....

3. Did you understand what was going on when....

4. A part I really liked was….

What do you think about that part?

5. A part I didn’t like so much was….

What do you think about that part?

Picture Reader

Instructions: In graphic novels, the pictures tell the story, too. Below, draw a few “slides” and explain what the picture is telling the readers.

Gist Expert

Instructions: Good readers are able to read a story and pick out the one main idea or the “gist” of the story (what it is mainly about). They can also support the main idea with details. Your mission is to identify the main idea and supporting details.

Main Idea:








Travel Tracker

Instructions: As the plot of the story moves, so do the characters. As travel tracker, you are tracking the setting of the story. That means you keep up with where the characters were during the reading.

Location 1

When: _____________________________________________________________

Where: ____________________________________________________________

Location 2

When: _____________________________________________________________

Where: ____________________________________________________________

Location 3

When: _____________________________________________________________

Where: ____________________________________________________________

Location 4

When: _____________________________________________________________

Where: ____________________________________________________________


Instructions: Write your prediction for what will happen next in the story. Then write the clues that helped you draw that conclusion.




1. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Instructions: Good readers make connections as they read. There are three types of connections:

Text to text: a connection between the book you are reading and another book (or story)….plot, characters, author, etc.

Text to self: connection between the reader and the story (‘this reminds me of the time I ….” or “this character is a lot like me…”).

Text to world: a connection between the reader and the rest of the world (“this reminds me of something I heard…”).

****As you read make three connections****

Text to Text



Text to Self



Text to World




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