Wednesday, March 26, 2008

History in Graphic Book Format

When I first heard of this book I placed it on my PaperBackSwap wish list. After waiting a number of months, I am thrilled that yesterday’s mail delivered this book to me.

Graphic novels, that is, fiction books or “illustrated novels” set entirely in comic strip format are getting more and more popular among teen readers, it seems, especially. Libraries near me are expanding their collections of Young Adult graphic novels and one library even has an entire alcove dedicated to the genre.

The book that I am talking about today is actually non-fiction content: United States history to be exact. It is “The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation: Based on the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.



I plan to read this and later on I’ll have my sons read this too.

This brings to mind a recent article in Home Education Magazine in which the writer explained something that I’d never heard before. (If I can put my hands on my issue later I will share the article title, author and the issue number with you. ) She said that children’s brains are more geared toward visual (graphic) images and interpretation and later on make the switch to more easily relying on text only. I had never heard that before. That would explain why children love comics, especially it seems, boys aged 8-12. As I read it I also realized that when I read comics I read all the text and barely notice the images. It is hard for me, a fast and good reader of text, to slow down and force myself to look at all the images and small nuances in the comics to interpret the whole scene and ‘get it’. I tend to quickly breeze through the text only and ignore most of the imagery. After I read the article I realized that my brain has shifted to being able to easily comprehend text-only so to read comics is not enjoyable to me nor it is easy or fast to read as I have to force my eyes to stop reading and to look around at the images. It is also ‘not flowing’ for me to do that, compared to my ability to read only text quickly and with ease.

I find this a unique medium and wonder how many non-fiction books and history books have been published in graphic adaptations? Can we reach today’s teens with history content by starting to publish more graphic books (illustrated books) with real history stories and biographies?

Links
July 2006 blog post of mine: About PaperBackSwap.com

(On PBS, people swap paperback, hardcover and audio books. Membership is free.)



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1 comment:

Nine Texans and friends.... said...

We had a wonderful graphic version of The Hobbit. The language was taken directly from the book and not dumbed down at all. Sadly, it fell apart and I have been unable to find another copy new or used.
We have quite a few Graphic History books on WWII and the Civil War. It is a great medium for Ian.