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Reluctant Readers & Graphic Novels

Reluctant Readers & Graphic Novels

Graphic novels of classic fiction, and in particular William Shakespeare’s plays, are an excellent introduction for students who don’t naturally enjoy reading. This style of book uses lots of illustrations and speech bubbles to tell the story, making it easier and arguably more enjoyable to read. Here’s how they could help:

Firstly, the pictures in graphic novels show what’s happening in the story. Shakespeare’s language can be hard to understand at first, but being able to see the characters and their actions (much like watching a play) helps to explain the what is being said. Here we see a page from A Midsummer Night's Dream: Original Text.

Graphic novels can be exciting to look at. The colourful illustrations and dynamic layouts catch your eye and keep you turning the page. This can make reading feel less like a chore and more like watching a film or playing a video game.

The comic book format can also make Shakespeare’s stories feel modern and relatable. Simply presenting the stories in a more inviting way to a younger audience (and those who struggle to read) helps them to initially connect with the story.

For students who learn better by seeing pictures, graphic novels are perfect. The combination of words and images helps students, especially visual learners, to understand the story quicker. Instead of just reading long paragraphs of text or a cold script, they can see the action and emotions on the characters’ faces and interpret the drama as it unfolds.

Pictures can also help you remember the story. When you read a graphic novel, the images stick in your mind, making it easier to remember what happened and who did what. This is very helpful for class discussions and exams.

In class, teachers can use graphic novels in many ways. They can ask you to read in groups and talk about the storyline together. Comparing the graphic novel to the original play or story can show how pictures can change how you understand a story. Teachers might also ask you to create your own comic strip of a scene, which can be a fun way to dive deeper into the material. Reluctant readers may want to start with a Quick Text version of the graphic novel that features reduced and simplified dialogue. Here is the same page from A Midsummer Night's Dream but in Quick Text:

(We also offer Original Text for all our titles and a Plain Text version for our Shakespeare titles).

For teachers of reluctant readers we have a selection of Teaching Resource Packs to accompany our graphic novels. These provide opportunities for teaching a wide range of skill levels and allow lessons to be tailored to meet individual needs as well as whole-class teaching.

Reading and finishing a graphic novel gives you a sense of achievement, as with any book. If you usually find reading hard, completing a graphic novel can be a great boost to your confidence. You may feel encouraged to read the original Shakespeare play script or more challenging classic fiction books afterwards. But if you’d like to stick with the graphic novel format, that’s fine too!

In short, graphic novels can make stories easier and more fun to read. They help you understand the plot, remember the details, and connect with the characters. Once you understand a story you are able to enjoy it and once you enjoy reading you can go on to enjoy many, many more books.