Expanding Literacy Through Graphic Novels

BY Daniela Milne

Sturgis Charter School (East)

Project Description

Goal: to expand our graphic novel collection to support student literacy, promote engagement in school clubs and increase interest in the library, as outlined in the Sturgis Charter Public School Library mission statement. Our aim is that Expanding Literacy Through Graphic Novels will bring in students who might otherwise stay away from the library and avoid reading altogether. The wide appeal of the graphic novel has made the format trendy yet meaningful and is one of the most popular and fastest-growing types of young adult literature. Graphic novels are being incorporated into the school curriculum, made into movies and video games, awarded literary recognition, and classics such as Pride and Prejudice are being adapted into graphic novel format. Some experts believe that every school library should have a collection of graphic novels. Quite simply, the graphic novel is having a significant impact on our culture and our students are responding to it. We want to meet this enthusiasm with a worthy collection. This literacy project will complement the Million Page Read Challenge being sponsored by Sturgis Charter libraries: Sturgis students, faculty and administrators are challenged to read 1,000,000 pages during the 2015-16 school year!! The challenge encourages our students to pick up a book and read for fun. Increasing our popular titles will draw more students into the library and support leisure reading. We plan to create a display showcasing newly purchased graphic novels and let students know via our website that we have new material.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

Sturgis East Librarians worked with students in the Sturgis Anime & Manga Club to develop a list of graphic novels for the collection. We gave a list of 2015 graphic novels recommended by the American Library Association to the club and asked them to highlight titles of interest. Students were also asked to provide a list of their own recommended titles. Using lists from professional organizations such as the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens, Voice of Youth Advocates’ graphic novel column, School Library Journal’s Top 10 Lists as well as student recommendations will make our selection of graphic novels much more effective than using a single source for recommendations. We will continue to seek recommendations and feedback from the Anime & Manga Club throughout the year. We hope the club will offer occasional book talks during lunch and invite other students to participate. Libraries have very good systems in place for evaluating the success of this program. It will be quite easy to determine the circulation statistics for the graphic novel collection over time. We will also be able to determine user statistics for numbers of students and student groups using the library. Most importantly, we will continue to seek feedback from students and faculty about library services including the Expanding Literacy Through Graphic Novels program at Sturgis.

Benefit to the students and the school

Although we currently have a small collection of graphic novels in the library, this genre has been overlooked and needs attention. Students have requested graphic novels that we do not have and do not check out the ones that we do. If the graphic novel “is able to reach parts of readers’ psyches and lift their imaginations, interest, and focus to unparalleled heights” (Karp X), then we want to give our students access to them. This grant will help us kickstart our graphic novel collection to reflect current, more popular titles. As we add to it, year after year, our collection will grow to have high-interest titles as well as classics. Every student who enjoys reading graphic novels will benefit from our purchase. There is certainly excitement about this genre in our school. The fact that we have a club dedicated to Manga is testament to the high interest surrounding graphic novels. These students top the list of those who will directly benefit, but any student who enjoys reading and any student who enjoys art will benefit. All students, as well as faculty, are welcome to borrow books from our library. The graphic novel literacy project combined with the Million Page Read Challenge to read 1,000,000 pages during the 2015-16 will encourage students to pick up a book and read for fun. Increasing our popular titles will draw more students into the library and support leisure reading. Reading for pleasure is an excellent way to reduce stress and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

If we are fortunate enough to receive a Cape Cod Five Mini Grant for Expanding Literacy Through Graphic Novels, we will begin ordering books as soon as the funds are made available. Processing the books with the help of library volunteers will reduce the wait time between ordering and making the books available for students. Students will have the opportunity to enjoy the collection immediately.  Although the Million Page Read Challenge will end in June 2016, we believe the graphic novel collection will be enjoyed for years to come.

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