Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adventures in Graphica by Terry Thompson

I have always had some graphic novels in my classroom for students, but I wasn't a big graphic novel reader myself.  Yes, I read some books from the Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, but never dipped into reading others until this year.  After joining Twitter this year and hearing so many great reviews about Babymouse, Squish, Lunch Lady and many others, I decided it was time to try out reading more graphic novels and I am so happy I did!  As I wrote in other posts, I love the Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka and can't wait for the next book to come out in the series.  Now I know how the kids feel when they get hooked on a graphic novel series.

This summer, I did some damage on Amazon and at my local bookstores buying more graphic novels to add to my classroom library.  By reading more graphic novels this summer, I became more aware of how difficult it may be for some kids to navigate through this form of text and also how engaging it can be for reluctant readers.  I heard about Adventures in Graphica: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Comprehension, 2-6  by Terry Thompson years ago, but kept putting it off in my TBR stack because maybe I wasn't ready to fully embrace graphic novels in my teaching since I wasn't familiar with as many as I am now.  After reading many graphic novels this summer, I immediately bought Adventures in Graphica and absolutely loved it!  I have been reading, rereading, and marking up the text this week with excitement to use the strategies and lessons Terry Thompson shares.

In this professional book, Terry Thompson shares and explains ways to integrate graphic novels into our mini-lessons, small groups, and read aloud instruction.  He shows us how important it is to teach students about the layout and organization of graphic novels, just like we teach students about text features and structures in nonfiction reading.  I love his idea of having students engage in an inquiry lesson to explore graphic novels in small groups and chart what they notice about organization, conventions, and so on.

There is one chapter dedicated to comprehension skills and how we can use graphic novels in our instruction to help teach summarizing, visualizing, inferring, monitoring, and synthesizing.  This was one of my many favorite chapters.  It is full of lessons and examples to help us shore up students thinking and strengthen comprehension.  Another favorite chapter focuses on visualization and inferring.  This chapter gives examples of how we can engage students during read aloud by sketching their own panels at the end of chapters to create a visual read aloud timeline in the classroom.  This promotes the importance of visualization while also teaching how to summarize, determine importance, and synthesize the text as you read.

I could go on and on sharing lessons, ideas, and strategies that Terry Thompson explains in his book, but instead I'm going to highly recommend that you purchase, borrow, or take it off your shelf to read and enjoy.  I have a new outlook now on sharing graphic novels with my students and using them in my reading instruction. I also encourage you to build up your graphic novel section of your classroom library if you already don't have a good selection available to your students.   Thank you Terry Thompson for writing this amazing book about using graphic novels in the classroom! :)

Happy Reading! :)


  1. Like you, I will be more explicitly teaching students to read graphic novels this year. I feel like they only scratch the surface in their understanding. I am actually planning on my 2nd read aloud being a graphic novel so we can enjoy and think about it together.
    Love Thompson's book as well!
    Here's to a great year with graphic novels!

  2. I want to teach a unit on graphic novels this year, as they are so appealing to students, but really take a different skill set to read well. I must get this book! Thanks for the review!

  3. I have been working hard to expand my graphic novel section in the class library this summer also. I had already started noticing how my reluctant readers were much more motivated by this genre and then also joined Twitter and saw the excellent conversations there about those wonderful series. I will definitely go look for this book. Thanks for the recommendation!

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