- I grew up reading comics, beginning with Brenda Starr and Dick Tracy, the detective with a two-way walkie talkie watch. Didn’t that watch lead us to the smartwatch?
Blackthorne; web source: http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=234705
Photo Illustration, PLStamps/Alamy
- Graduating to the Peanuts comic strip, I loved it so much that I cut and pasted individual episodes to the inside of my closet door. What a pleasure it has been as a librarian to introduce these characters to elementary school students 50 years after the strips were written!
- Doonesbury was cool as I became an adult and learned that Uncle Duke was based on Hunter Thompson.
- Entering the workforce, I was more inclined to Cathy Guisewite’s comic named after herself, so relieved to see a woman-made comic.
- Lynda Barry was a revelation- so hectically brilliant!
- Persepolis, created by Marjane Satrapi, another woman graphic novelist, demonstrated how historical eras can be depicted in comics.
- Not that Art Spiegelman had not led the way. Having survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks downtown, reading his In the Shadow of No Towers was strangely comforting.
- Fun Home has the depth and emotional charge of the most troubling family history.
- When Roz Chast published Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, I shouted with joy while mourning the loss of her parents. A lifelong reader of the New Yorker, I always went to the cartoons first. My grandmother liked to decorate gift packages with New Yorker cartoons.
- Raina Telgemeier: Need I say more?
One of the many challenges of school librarians is how to keep these beauties in stock.
As fewer English teachers and parents complain about their children reading graphic novels, as if they were not as good as a classic work of print literature, it is important to teach visual literacy in all of its forms. We are barraged every day with images, and students need to know how to navigate them, how to deconstruct them, and how to enjoy the many excellent new graphic novels coming out, such as my favorite this year:
- New Kid
Jerry Craft makes the experience of being a student of color in a private school familiar and troubling and touching.
After retiring from full-time work at Brearley, Patty Aakre works in the lower school library at PS 89 and with the National Audubon Society’s For the Birds program, teaching lower school students about birds. She is currently the Recording Secretary for HVLA and a reviewer for SLJ. Other favorite graphic novels not mentioned include: Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints, Shannon Hale’s Real Friends, and Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.