In graphic detail

Learning and Teaching Scotland has launched a new literacy resource which highlights how comic books, or "graphic novels", can engage pupils and be used throughout the curriculum.

The graphic novel is defined as one "whose narrative is conveyed through a combination of text and art, usually in comic-strip form, but with lengthier and more complex storylines". The online resource offers:

* research tips for starting a collection of graphic novels;

* a practical example detailing the introduction of graphic novels at James Hamilton Academy in Kilmarnock;

* a helpful list of recommended titles for schools;

* practical ideas for use with pupils;

* further reading material and links to a host of useful websites.

LT Scotland argues that the graphic medium offers flexibility which allows the novels to tell complex stories or explain difficult ideas in a simple way. But it warns that comics and graphic novels tend to be approached with caution by both libraries and schools, because their content has often been seen as controversial and undermining literacy. "When using this medium, teachers and librarians may encounter colleagues who still feel this way,"

it cautions.

Anyone planning to use graphic novels in their school will have to understand this negative perspective and be able to show that they are very diverse, offering a huge range of reading experiences, it says.

"The fact that graphic novelscomics enhance rather than undermine reading skills must also be emphasised."

* www.ltscotland.org.ukliteracyfindresourcesgraphicnovelsindex.asp

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