TeachingBooks in Action

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Analyze Detail in Graphic Novels

Image with blue graphic novel panels and pop out text that says "What to do with Graphic Novels on TeachingBooks"

Graphic novels contain a variety of details that, when reflected upon, aid in the development of visual literacy.  Details like sound effects, frame structure, the shape of speech bubbles, and much more all act as critical elements to the telling of the story.  Explore the examples and prompts below for ideas on how to keep readers engaged in the unique qualities that make graphic novels great.


Find the Google Preview button under the book cover image from a title page.

Sound Effects

Study sound effects in graphic novels.  Ask: how does onomatopoeia add to our understanding of the story or characters? Try using Google Preview for the titles below as samples.

Structural Details

Reflect on authors’ purpose as it relates to structure and details with Meet-the-Author Recordings.  For example…

  • Bear Came Along — LeUyen Pham talks about three wordless spreads and the importance and significance of each of them.
  • American Born Chinese — Gene Luen Yang talks about how he chose to illustrate character voice through formatting that indicates thought or different language. See the accompanying illustration as an example.
  • This One Summer — Mariko Tamaki shares how she and co-creator Jillian Tamaki do location research to find details like smells and sounds that will make the setting they portray in their book authentic.

Visual Elements

Consider what information you can learn from images that is not provided in the text. 

  • Read aloud from a graphic novel adding descriptive language to convey the story beyond the dialogue. 
  • Listen to the Meet-the-Author Recording with Raina Telgemeier for Drama—use the illustration provided to compare to the section read aloud.
  • Then, listen to the audiobook excerpt of Nimona in which the illustrations are not described.  Ask: how is the listening experience different? Watch the video book reading of chapter 1 and reflect again.
  • Explore the Google Preview for El Deafo.  Ask: what details do you notice in the graphics?  How would you read this book aloud?

What’s working for you?

We’d love to hear how you’re using TeachingBooks resources in your classrooms and libraries!  Leave your ideas in a comment below!

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