Friday, October 14, 2011

Guy Friday- Picture This (or more aptly, Philosophical Friday)

My three children all ran middle school cross country for two years each. My older daughter also ran for three years in high school. That's 9 years of cross country running. How many pictures do I have of them?


I don't have any of my younger daughter, mainly because it's hard to juggle a clipboard and stopwatch AND camera while running back and forth across fields to yell times at 20 runners per race. I intend, at some point, to get some pictures from other parents. The good parents.

The larger point of this, aside from my many deficiencies as a parent, is that I don't really care about pictures. Graphic novels annoy me because I have to ferret the text out from the drawings. Have to turn more pages. It's more efficient to skip the pesky pictures and put more text on each page.

The students, especially the boys, don't feel this way. They LOVE pictures. Guinness World Record books. Lunch Lady graphic novels. Books about cars and sports and World War II, as long as they have pictures.

My only reservation about this is that I am not entirely sure that boys read the words in these books. There's a lot of page flipping that indicates the information presented is not being absorbed. I believe strongly that all middle school students need to read 30 minutes a day in order to strengthen their reading skills. That way, when they are forced to read East of Eden or The Canterbury Tales in high school, they can at least get through them. If they actually read the story in Magic Pickle books, great. If they only look at the pictures, will this help them?

I always tell students that my job is to make their reading as enjoyable as possible by picking out books about things that interest them. But they have to do the actual reading. This year, I seem to have more students than ever who don't want to read ANYTHING.

The point of this? What do you hand to the hard core reluctant readers? Are there graphic novels or books with pictures that you think students actually read?

Opine. Obviously, today it doesn't have to make a lot of sense!

(And have to laugh; immediately after posting I had to help my daughter find a quote by Robert Browning, and came up with this as well: "There, that is our secret: go to sleep! You will wake, and remember, and understand.")


  1. You're right about boys and pictures.

    I'm not sure what to hand to hard-core reading refuseniks, but I've just come from the pediatrician's office and there was a boy there (about ten years old, I'd guess) who was reading Sports Illustrated. Aloud. And Very Slowly.

    My oldest (15)--formerly an entusiastic reader and now a refusenik--loves magazines as well. (Rolling Stone and Game Informer being top of the heap.) But he just roared through The Downside of Being Up, which I first heard about on your blog, and declared it to be GREAT.

  2. Tintin gets read. As does Asterix, although our school library doesn't have those.

    The words either are or set up the jokes in comic books (Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes) so I guess they are reading those.

  3. Good thoughts! They are actually "reading", though, in the sense that they are processing the information given to them on the page. Many kids actually have a fear of large chunks of text because they assume it will be hard or boring. The pictures can help fuel the story. Calvin and Hobbes is a good bet. Also, try "Robot Dreams" by Sara Varon; it has no words but is a good story with abstract themes.