Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: How Many Points Would You Give a Graphic Novel?
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Slice of Life: How Many Points Would You Give a Graphic Novel?


“I thought you decided to read March?”

“I was, but I changed my mind.”

“Did you not like it? You love history, especially this time period, it surprises me you didn’t like it.”

“Oh, I liked it.”

“Then why aren’t you reading it?”

“My teacher said it would only be worth half a point because it is a graphic novel. I don’t want to keep track of half points so I decided not to read it.”

This moment with my son has stayed with me. It was one of those moments when I had to balance being a mother and a teacher. I loved his teacher. She made great book recommendations, conferred with students, made time for independent reading and encouraged students to form book clubs. She held students accountable for reading six books (points) of their choice per term. I did not agree with this decision, but I respected her as a teacher. I did not know what to do.

Should I complain? Should I encourage my son to speak with her? Should I let it go?

I decided to reread March to experience it as a reader. Was it worth half a point? This book was so powerful on so many levels. The media of the graphic novel only added power to this memoir. It was not worth half a point.

I shared my thoughts with my son. I explained my thinking about books and why I did not consider this book, or really any book, worth half a point. It is not about the length of a book, it is about the thinking a reader does in response to a book. A reader can have complex thoughts about any text. I also shared that I understood that his teacher was trying to help him find a balance in the books he was reading and to assure he was challenging himself as a student.  I then asked him if he wanted to talk with his teacher about it.

No. It is fine. Last month I read The Book Thief and got two points because it was so long.  I think it is fair.

I then suggested he might read books one and two of March and together they would make one.

I’ll think about it.

In the end, he did read them both and wrote a response about them. His teacher, who was inspired to read them, gave him two points.

At first, graphic novels may seem easier, shorter, or less complex than other texts.  We cannot let the format deceive us.  There are many layers of meaning in graphic novels.  Graphic novels are also written in many genres so it is a great way to expose students to a genre they may not typically read or a transition to other texts.  I know this teacher no longer considers graphic novels to always be worth a half a point!

This month we are celebrating graphic novels on our blog – #GNCelebration.

It’s not too late to join us for #GNCelebration!  Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Grab a Badge(just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)gncelebration_square
  2. Join the #GNCelebration Google Community
  3. Read Graphic Novels: All you need to do is read and/or reread some graphic novels.  Choose some you want to blog about.
  4. Write Your Post: Each Thursday in October, write a post about graphic novels, a graphic novel series or a graphic novel author.  In your post, please include the age range recommendations for your books and share why you love them so other readers can match books to their students.  If you want to share ideas of how you use these texts instructionally, go for it!
  5. Share Your Post: Each Thursday in October post your blog and link it to the #GNCelebration Google Community (https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/117918938245141547958)
  6. No Blog?: If you don’t have a blog, it is really easy to just post directly into the Google Community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #GNCelebration hashtag.
  7. Comment:  Each Thursday, take some time to read posts from other participants and please comment on at least three



  • Avatar
    Dana Murphy
    Posted at 17:03h, 06 October Reply

    As my oldest enters kindergarten, I am just learning about this mom/teacher balance. I can imagine this only gets more difficult.

    The first graphic novel I ever read was El Deafo. I haven’t stopped talking about it since.

    Good for you (and for your son) for this Slice!

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 22:39h, 06 October Reply

      It does. It is important to take a step back and think about the why behind the decision. I think her reasoning made sense in terms of being fair. For example, I would not want my son to shy away from The BookThief because it was too long. It is really a balance. She is a great teacher and was a wonderful match for my son, but I think the story tells of how we sometimes judge a book by its cover.

      You will grow into it — I promise!!

  • Avatar
    Leigh Anne
    Posted at 19:26h, 06 October Reply

    I don’t understand why others attach a value to someone’s reading. Our corporation uses Accelerated Reader and I am so against it and your son’s story is just one of the many reasons why. I hope that his teacher will continue to see the value in all reading.

    • Clare and Tammy
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 22:43h, 06 October Reply

      Once I heard her why, I understood her perspective. I also admired that she changed her mind. I think that is so powerful for kids to see. I am glad I did not intervene so my son could have the conversation with his teacher directly. She was thoughtful about how she was trying to allow kids to read longer books, it just impacted how shorter books were viewed. It seems we need to figure out how to strike a balance.


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