What did she learn?

image by Mysticartdesign, downloaded from pixabay

Moons ago, in a faraway snowy land, a school librarian started her ETL 402 quest:  to develop a strong theoretical base on which to build a school library that fosters engaged readers and enhance life-long learning (Wocke, 2018, November 11).


LESSON 1: Know your readers
In the visually dominated lives of our students the screen has replaced the printed text as the main medium for communication and reading, according to  Lamb and Johnson (2010), is not done in isolation any longer (Wocke, 2018, December 19). Printed books alone, are never going to be enough again to ensure that our students are “engaged readers” and according to Hashim and Vongkulluksn (2018) this is a critical component driving student learning and long-term academic success (p. 359). They reason that engaged readers are motivated and self-regulate their reading and apply learned strategies to real-life and out-of-school reading experiences (Wocke, 2018, December 30).

Davila and Patrick’s (2010) offer advice: find out what interests your readers – do not judge their choices, but read their suggestions and facilitate their choice (Wocke, 2018, November 24). Utilising the affordances of ICT to enhance reading – by linking the reading experience to multi-media formats – expanding the reading experience to include social links, extension and exploration opportunities and personalised elements as (Cullen, 2015; Wocke, 2018, December 29).

LESSON 2: Promote
It is vital to  display and promote our collections in attractive and interesting ways. We need to organise our libraries in ways that make “browsing” easy and help students over the search hurdle (Cornwall, 2018). Kimmelman (2018) argues that uncluttered, quality collections counter choice overload and presents meaningful options to our patrons. Genrefication, for example, reduces the number of options and positively affects patron self-sufficiency and independence (Wocke, 2018, December 26). We recently implemented this by genrefication of our fiction collections and see immediate benefits for patrons and librarians. We are investigating expanding this further with our non-fiction collection and are looking at BISAC subject headings (2018) as a possible easier way of browsing than the DDC.

LESSON 3: Diversify
Librarians need to maintain diverse collections, not only in terms of genres (did this librarian fall in love with graphic novels and steampunk recently (Wocke, 2018, December 19, Wocke, 2018, November 29)!), but by incorporating cross-cultural and cross-curricular collections (Maclure, 2018, November 19). We must also expand outside of the walls of the library by including ebook and audiobook collections, even if these are not initially very popular, because it is important that we educate our communities to understand and embrace the value of multi-modal and multi-platform experiences as part of developing 21st century literacy (Horsley, 2018, December 27).

LESSON 4: Literary learning
The last lesson is one that I did not even know I needed to learn: Literary learning enhances access to curriculum content (thereby supporting student engagement and learning) through inclusion of carefully selected works of literature into content learning. Readers encounter people, places, events and situations that allow them to develop an understanding for perspectives and points of view that may be different to their own experience and understanding (Ross Johnson, 2014, pp. 477-478). I learnt many literature response strategies, such as literature circles, book trailers and story mapping with which to build links between literature and curricular content.

How did the ETL402 quest end? Hopefully never! Much has been done, much remains to do, and I realise that my learning will be a life-long quest.


Complete BISAC subject headings list, 2018 edition. (2018). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from Book Industry Study Group website: https://bisg.org/page/bisacedition

Cornwall, G. (2018, July 22). How genrefication makes school libraries more like bookstores. Retrieved December 26, 2018, from KQED website: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51336/how-genrefication-makes-school-libraries-more-like-bookstores

Cullen, M. (2015, December 21). How is interactive media changing the way children learn? Retrieved December 29, 2018, from Education Technology website: https://educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2015/12/how-is-interactive-media-changing-the-way-children-learn/

Davila, D., & Patrick, L. (2010). Asking the experts: What children have to say about their reading preferences. Language Arts, 87, 199-210., 87, 199-210. Retrieved from http://www2.ncte.org/resources/journals/language-arts/

Hashim, A. K., & Vongkulluksn, V. W. (2018). E-Reader apps and reading engagement: A descriptive case study. Computers & Education, 215, 358-375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.06.021

Horsley, D. (2018, December 27). Task 1: Ebooks & reading [Blog post]. Retrieved from ETL402 201890 Discussion Forum: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143048_1&message_id=_2029004_1

Kimmelman, A. (2018). The wise whys of weeding. Teacher Librarian, 46(1), 20. Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=gale_ofa562488215&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2010). Divergent convergence part : cross-genre, multi-platform, transmedia experiences in school libraries. Teacher Librarian, 37(5), 76-8.

Mclure, I. (2018, November 19). Thread 4: Multicultural literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from ETL402 201890 Discussion Forum: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_35350_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61731_1&forum_id=_143059_1&message_id=_2048880_1

Ross Johnson, R. (2014). Literature, the curriculum and 21st century literacy. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl, & M. Holliday (Authors), Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

The Graphic Novel Punch


image by aitoff, downloaded from pixabay

In our secondary school library graphic novels circulate 4 times more often than other fiction formats. It is clear that this is what our middle schoolers prefer to read. As librarian it is my task to be informed about and support their reading choices. This is why I chose the “graphic novel” option for my first ETL402 assignment.

Graphic novels look like books and can be fictional and nonfictional. They encompass many genres and are created for all age groups. The stories are told in sequentially presented panels, through a combination of text, pictures, symbols, dialogue balloons and sound effects. This I knew. I learnt a lot more about what graphic novels are and how they can be used in the guides from Scholastic  and CBLDF guides (“Panel Power”, n.d.;  A Guide, n.d.). What I did not realise was that while they employ standard literary devices in sophisticated ways, they require a different kind of reading than textual books – there is further decoding and interpretation of the visual aspects involved. Analysis of not only artistic elements (drawing, colour and shading), but of elements of graphical design (panel layout, perspective and lettering style), and even an understanding of cinematic conventions, are required (Goldsmith, 2009, p. 5). It soon became clear to me that I greatly underestimated this form of fiction, through my investigation I realised that by understanding graphic novels better, I was not only in a better position to support and encourage the popular reading of my students but found a way to understand their choices better.

image by aitoff, downloaded form pixabayHere is one important thing I learnt:  Digital technology is providing the impetus for our culture to become increasingly visual. Students’ daily consumption of information and entertainment is dominated by colourful, animated on-screen images, where the screen has replaced printed text as the main medium for communication. This multi-modal environment is changing the way students make meaning and requires competence in interpreting, evaluating, and representing meaning in visual form. This visual literacy is not only needed to successfully consume and produce information in the multi-modal 21st century, but provides opportunities in the classroom to create, analyse, and critique multi-modal texts (Rowsell, McLean, & Hamilton, 2012, pp. 444 – 446). Graphic novels are multi-modal texts that combine traditional literacy skills with visual literacy in a format that is acceptable to and preferred by our students (Hammond, 2010, p. 43). It is clear that these novels not only deserve a place in our library fiction collections but must be taught in our literature courses and can be used to introduce other aspects of the curriculum as well. The novels I examined in my research are excellent vehicles to introduce issues such as immigration, culture, racial identity and stereotyping.

I came across a lot of research that indicate that graphic novels can be used not only to expand literacy, but for reading motivation (of especially, but not exclusively, reluctant male readers), language learning, improved comprehension and vocabulary development (Edwards, 2009, pp. 56-58; Gavigan, 2012, p. 20; Snowball, 2005, pp. 43 – 44; etc. etc. etc.).

image by aitoff, downloaded from pixabayHistorically graphic novels did not have a good name for being serious literature, it needs to shed the stigma of triviality and the educational benefits need to be examined. Teachers and parents will need to be educated and convinced that this is “real reading”. Many graphic novels are only superficial in content and many contain explicit content and language that make them unsuitable for use in school. Teacher librarians need to be knowledgable and well-informed to make good choices when building graphic novel collections.

So, what should this teacher librarian do now that she has a much-changed view about graphic novels?

  • Read more graphic novels
  • Include more in the collection (but be careful about the selection)
  • Read more graphic novels
  • Display the collection prominently
  • read more graphic novels
  • Promote the collection through book talks
  • Read more graphic novels (get the idea?)
  • Talk to students about graphic novels
  • Talk to teachers about graphic novels
  • Conduct professional development sessions about the value of graphic novels in the curriculum

Guess what I’ll be reading over Christmas…



Edwards, B. (2009, November). Motivating middle school readers: The graphic novel link. School Library Media Activities, 25(8), 56-58. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234584435_Motivating_Middle_School_Readers_The_Graphic_Novel_Link

Gavigan, K. (2012). Sequentially smart – using graphic novels across the K-12 curriculum. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 20-25. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-294899941/sequentially-smart-using-graphic-novels-across-the

Goldsmith, F. (2010). The readers’ advisory guide to graphic novels. Chicago: American Library Association.

A guide to using graphic novels with children and teens. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2018, from https://www.scholastic.com/graphix_teacher/pdf/Graphix%20Teachers%20guide.pdf

Hammond, H. K. (2010). The development of a school library graphic novel collection. In R. G. Weiner, R. W. Scott, A. K. Nyberg, W. T. Fee, & F. Goldsmith (Authors), Graphic novels and comics in libraries and archives: Essays on readers, research, history and cataloging (pp. 41-51). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.

Panel power: Using comics to make lifelong readers. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2018, from CBLDF website: https://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/panel-power-using-comics-to-make-lifelong-readers

Rowsell, J., McLean, C., & Hamilton, M. (20112). Visual literacy as a classroom approach. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(5), 444-447. https://ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/JAAL.00053

Snowball, C. (2005, Summer). Teenage reluctant readers and graphic novels. YALS, 43-45. Retrieved from http://yaworkshop.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/graphic2.pdf