From Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Captain Underpants, graphic novels are all the rage among early readers in classrooms across the province. Mixing drawings and words in comic book style, these books have also proven to be appealing and helpful to beginning and reluctant readers. But are they good enough for the classroom? Is reading graphic novels real reading? And what if kids never want to progress on to ‘proper’ novels?

For our December edition of the TVOParents Book Club, our host Cheryl Jackson sat down to discuss these issues with a panel of experts. Guests included Larry Swartz, who is a professor of education at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and co-author of the book Learning to Read with Graphic Power. Also in studio was children’s book author Mahtab Narsimhan, whose first novel The Third Eye was awarded the Silver Birch Award. Her latest book The Tiffin has been named as one of the five best books for Young People in 2011 by the Quill and Quire.

And with us via Skype from Ohio, was multi-award-winning graphic novelist Jeff Smith. His best-selling graphic novel series for children called BONE was named one of the ten best graphic novels of all time by Time Magazine in 2005.



And if you'd like to see how good our kids are at this stuff - here's a piece by our Albert Wisco.  He profiles a project at Joyce P.S. in Toronto where kids got to their families' stories of arriving in Canada in graphic novel style - they learned more than they expected...

Also check out Scholastic's Teaching with Graphic Novels guide here.

Have a pre-schooler and want some good book recommendations? Check out Gisèle's Book Club on TVOKIds.

If you'd like to indulge in our many other book club meetings, you'll find them here.