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Monday, 24 October 2011

Guest Post: Challenging Attitudes towards Comics

Paul Register
Paul Register is a school librarian at Ecclesfield School, Sheffield and organiser of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award for graphic novels and manga aimed at 11-16 year olds created in partnership with the Stan Lee Foundation, dediciated to improving literacy worldwide...

I've just been reading a document recommended to me by a teacher. It is the National Union of Teachers guidelines for increasing 'Reading for Pleasure' across a whole school.

Obviously, this is a laudable goal and something all schools should be thinking about. It's connected to a conference they've recently held called "Reading4Pleasure". (Why they've chosen to use 'text speak' when naming this initiative I have no idea. Do today's next generation of teachers really need simple English dumbing down for them?)

Anyway... Have a look at the piece below. It's copied from this document and attempts to highlight how best teachers can create a "classroom library" with a wide variety of reading material for students:

In order to fulfil all these functions, there needs to be a wide range of categories of reading materials within a classroom library, for example: stories and narrative accounts, eg, fairy tales, folk tales, and biographies; picture books with thought-provoking images and examples of artistic talent; information books; computers with bookmarked Web pages, including major reference sources; miscellaneous reading materials, such as popular magazines, newspapers, catalogues, recipe books, encyclopaedias, maps, reports, captioned photographs, posters, diaries and letters; joke books, comic books, word-puzzle books; and student-authored books and stories. 

No mention whatsoever of graphic novels or manga titles and "comic books" are lumped in with joke books and puzzle books! Brilliant,eh?!

Clearly the 'teacher' that wrote this has no concept of comics beyond Beano and Dandy! Even the description of "picture books" is a bit strange, as though the actual story/writing is of no consequence.

Sometimes I truly despair...

Reading4Pleasure Online Resource

• Note: NUT's advice for encouraging Reluctant Readers does suggest teachers "provide graphic novels, comics, manga, and picture books for older readers."

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