In the May 2014 issue of English Journal, Melissa Schieble discusses how to teach “racial literacy” via Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel. “Racial literacy” is Lani Guinier’s term for a critical stance that “moves citizens to explore race as less about interpersonal injustices and more ‘about the distribution of power’ and resources” (p. 49).
Schieble also proposes a list of questions to help students develop skills in critical visual literacy — in other words, how to read graphic novels as more than just entertainment.
Schieble’s list includes questions that look at “image syntax, shot distance, angles, and color” (p. 50). These questions work just as well when viewing film, sculpture, photography, or any other form of visual art.
These are the types of questions that will make APs happy to see students addressing in your classroom, especially if they see you moving the students from graphic novels to more complex informational texts which must also be read critically.
So find this article and read it, pen and paper at hand for the notes you’ll want to take.