Graphic Novels have arrived!

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This has been our busiest week yet at the Johnson Elementary School Learning Leopard Library. Last Friday, our new Graphic Novel section was unveiled to the students.

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Although I knew that graphic novels would be popular with the students at Johnson Elementary School, I had no idea just how big of a reaction there would be. Last Friday, I posted a photo of our current circulation statistics – we had checked out 2,694 books. Not too shabby! But I am so excited to share that since the introduction of the graphic novel section into our library, that number has jumped to a whopping 3,315! That’s right – our students have checked out 621 books in the last 5 days. That’s more than 120 books per day! With series like Babymouse, Lego Ninjago, Binky the Space Cat, the City of Ember, Dragonbreath, Bone, and Bink and Gollie in the new section, I can understand why the new section has been so popular.

Graphic novels aren’t just comic books – they are so much more! According to a recent article from MacMillan publishers, graphic novels help to bridge the difficult gap between picture books and chapter books. Trying to maneuver this complicated jump is one of many difficulties that beginning readers face in elementary school, and it’s an issue that causes many frustrated students to give up and decide that they just don’t like to read.

Graphic novels are a great way to go for kids making the transition from image-centric books to more text-based books, and for adults just learning English. Because of the combination of image and text in a graphic novel, readers get visual clues about what’s going on in the story even if their vocabulary isn’t quite up to all the words yet. And because graphic novels are told as a series of panels, reading graphic novels also forces readers to think and become actively involved each time they move between one panel and the next. What’s happening in that space? How do the story and the characters get from panel 1 to panel 2?

The article goes on to state that in our image-centered society, which focuses so much on television, internet, and other screens with little to no words, graphic novels “provide a bridge between traditional prose narratives and image-centric media.” These books not only help to draw in reluctant readers and develop critical thinking skills, but “reading and analyzing graphic novels helps kids and teens learn the ins and outs of visual literacy, better preparing them to deal with the media they encounter every day.” To learn more about how graphic novels work and why they are an important part of an exciting, up-to-date, and effective school library media center, take a look at MacMillan’s article, On Graphic Novels.

Now that we have learned how to be Library Superheroes and save our library books from danger, the younger grades are celebrating the beginning of the fall season. This special seasonal storytime includes a fall story, a fun fall song and movement activity, and a fall craft. Each student colored their own fall leaf with their favorite autumn colors and added it to our Learning Leopard Library tree. The result is a beautiful piece of artwork that we can all be proud of! This tree will be displayed in the hallway outside of the library for everyone to enjoy.

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Third grade will continue to work on learning the sections of the library this week, and will get to take their turns as librarians when they teach the class about their chosen section. Second grade will start the same unit this week, but with an artistic twist – these students will be creating library treasure maps to help explorers find their way around our shelves. The more students learn about the organization of the library, the more confident and independent they become as library users.

Students in fourth grade participated in a special lesson this week, discussing and celebrating Banned Book Week together. Banned Book Week is an event celebrated by the American Library Association every year, and it is a wonderful time to have a mature talk about censorship and the Right to Read. According to the American Library Association’s page, Banned Books Week “highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” In the Johnson Elementary School Library, we discuss the definition of the words “challenged” and “banned”, and the fact that each of us has a right to our own opinion. We also talk about some of the commonly challenged and banned books that we have in our library – like James and the Giant Peach, Where the Wild Things Are, Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, The Giving Tree, Charlotte’s Web, and Bridge to Terabithia, to name a few – and why they might be challenged. Most importantly, we discuss how integral it is for students to decide both independently and with their loved ones which books are right for them, and which are not. The Johnson Elementary School Library is a safe place for all students and their families to gather and share stories, especially during the celebration of Banned Books Week! To find out more about Banned Books Week, visit the American Library Association’s official Banned Books Week page here.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Miss Messham

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