Teachers’ Perceptions of the Use of Graphic Novels to Teach Reluctant Readers

Teachers’ Perceptions of the Use of Graphic Novels to Teach Reluctant Readers by Bret Ginsberg

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of teachers in a suburban private school in Florida serving prekindergarten through Grade 8 regarding the use of graphic novels to increase student motivation to read. The problem was teachers were concerned with students’ inability to complete the required novels, demonstrate comprehension of deep meaning from the text, read silently, and read outside of school. Teachers raised serious concerns about the reading achievement of middle school students. Teachers also noted a frequent mismatch between the preference of the middle school reader and the instructional opportunities provided. The study was designed to help determine how the inclusion of graphic novels could benefit struggling and reluctant readers. The scope of the qualitative study was to understand the teachers’ perceptions of the use of graphic novels in the classes. The utilization of graphic novels in the classroom has become more commonplace, yet they are still viewed as a new tool in schools.

A qualitative case study approach was chosen for this study. The study relied on data collected from 38 teachers who completed open-ended questions on a teacher questionnaire on graphic novels as well as curricula across several subjects. Themes emerged from the coaxial coding of the data, revealing that teachers may choose to use graphic novels in their classes, but the school curriculum makes no mention of graphic novels. Teachers also noted that reluctant readers may have difficulty with reading or may simply not be interested in the material, which is not chosen by students. Finally, teachers were open to using graphic novels and considered them literature. Suggested best practices included using graphic novels as supplements to texts, to reach visual and reluctant readers, and to teach comprehension and vocabulary and well as subject matter. The teachers were overwhelmingly positive about the use of graphic novels in the classroom.