Murray State University

Poster Title

Accessible Literacy: Graphic Novels for Remedial and Reluctant High School Readers

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

In 2005, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released a statement detailing the process for improving adolescent literacy throughout the state. This document defines literacy as “reading, writing, and the creative and analytical acts involved in producing and comprehending text.” The practical value of reading and writing remains clear in students’ abilities to perform successfully in school and beyond. However, the KDE cites that at least 70% of Kentucky high school students are not college-ready because they cannot read or understand higher level materials. Recent studies in literacy have redefined literacy to have five other components: functional, cultural, progressive, critical, and finally, visual. With these changes in the definition of literacy in mind, many teachers are turning to a relatively new literary genre known as “graphic novels,” or, in layman's terms, “extended comic books.” The first phase of my research culminated in spring 2010 as I recorded the demographics of teachers using graphic novels in Kentucky. From this preliminary survey, I concluded that teachers in Kentucky are using graphic novels to spark the interest of reluctant or remedial readers. My current study examines the specific use of graphic novels within classrooms around the state and how these teachers are using them as tools to improve visual literacy in Kentucky’s high schools.

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Accessible Literacy: Graphic Novels for Remedial and Reluctant High School Readers

In 2005, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released a statement detailing the process for improving adolescent literacy throughout the state. This document defines literacy as “reading, writing, and the creative and analytical acts involved in producing and comprehending text.” The practical value of reading and writing remains clear in students’ abilities to perform successfully in school and beyond. However, the KDE cites that at least 70% of Kentucky high school students are not college-ready because they cannot read or understand higher level materials. Recent studies in literacy have redefined literacy to have five other components: functional, cultural, progressive, critical, and finally, visual. With these changes in the definition of literacy in mind, many teachers are turning to a relatively new literary genre known as “graphic novels,” or, in layman's terms, “extended comic books.” The first phase of my research culminated in spring 2010 as I recorded the demographics of teachers using graphic novels in Kentucky. From this preliminary survey, I concluded that teachers in Kentucky are using graphic novels to spark the interest of reluctant or remedial readers. My current study examines the specific use of graphic novels within classrooms around the state and how these teachers are using them as tools to improve visual literacy in Kentucky’s high schools.