Lesesne Reading

As one who is supposed to keep the discussion going on the blog this week, I wanted to comment on Lesesne’s chapter in Beers. I found this particularly interesting because it examines the new trends in YA. I thought everyone might like to weigh in on their reactions to the newest trends.

One thing I was struck by is not the main focus of the article. Lesesne writes that “even product placement… has reared its ugly head into the world of YA literature.” (63) I would like to ask everyone’s opinion on this topic. As a recent graduate from a communications school, advertising was a much-debated topic in my life. While advertising can certainly have an “ugly head” at times, it has also funded the explosion in communication. Advertising was essential to the development of newspapers. Subscription costs would practically be unaffordable without advertising, and the United States would surely be a less-literate country. This made me wonder if advertising in books would make them more affordable for the general public, and schools in particular. This week we have examined the issue of schools being unable to provide students with books. Could advertising help? Just throwing that out there….

The other thing in this chapter that struck me was the discussion of graphic novels. My mom who is a children’s librarian told me that the “manga” books are extremely popular at her library. How does everyone feel about this new trend? Are these books as beneficial as traditional texts? Do some students dislike graphic novels?




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9 responses to “Lesesne Reading

  1. mandygrl101

    I also found so many things important that were presented in the Lesesne text, I almost don’t know where to begin! Lesesne phrased it nicely when she said that our teens are living through a “technology explosion” (61). Further the implications of this explosion have influenced how adolescents crave “speed and convenience and immediacy”, all features that technology can offer (62). Thus, the result when they come to school is that they are often disinterested, as schools value “print literacies to other media literacies” (Alverman, 41). For those in 506, this ties nicely into attention economy, which is an idea presented in one of our (ENG 506) texts, and defines attention as the most “precious commodity” (41). I think this ties directly into this article, as it explores ways in which YA lit appeals to kids, and thus gets and keeps their attention.

    In response to your question about graphic novels, I have to admit that I am not a fan of them. However, little did I know that when I picked up Jodi Picoult’s Tenth Circle, that it could be categorized as such. Throughout this novel and at the beginning of each chapter, there are comics which correlate to what is happening in the story. I thought this was very interesting, a technique that I had never really seen before. I didn’t mind it in this book because it didn’t take up a lot of space, and was used sparingly throughout, but it was a little distracting for me personally. I know that it is used in a variety of different ways in YA lit, and I can see how it is appealing to kids. I think in this day and age, graphic texts can be as beneficial as traditional texts, because as Lesesne points out, through incorporating words with pictures, kids stay engaged in the reading, and for some, pictures also help them to understand what is happening in the text.

  2. allison

    I also find it distracting to have comics or pictures in a book. I usually skip right over them. When I read a comic, I sometimes read only the text/dialogue boxes, and do not even look at the pictures.
    Do you think that you and I are distracted by the visuals because we are not used to them? Do you think we have gotten so accustomed to reading texts without pictures that we have somewhat lost the appreciation for visuals? Or is it just that we no longer need visuals to help us to understand or remain engaged?

    The last question brings me to another angle. Do students need the visuals to remain engaged? Do they need them to help with comprehension? Has reading comprehension and literary discipline declined, and now we need pictures to keep kid’s attention?

  3. sunyprof

    When we go to see a film we just assume, don’t we, that moving images will be combined with music, words, sound and special effects….to create the experience.

    I don’t see why we would conclude that the purpose of combining images and words is about keeping kids interested. Many of these new/hot graphic texts are written for adults. The combination of words and drawings enriches and complicates the experience of “reading.” Why not appeal to a variety of senses? Why not stimulate many receptors?

    Have you read any manga??? Wow! It’s addictive!

    A finalist for last year’s National Book Award, “American Born Chinese,” is a terrific example of how sophisticated a graphic text can be.

    NYSEC last year adopted the graphic memoir, “Persepolis” as its year long book club pic.

    I encourage you to investigate some of the new graphic novels! You’re in for a great surprise. I’ll bring a couple to class on Tuesday. KES

  4. rayhedrick

    I think graphic novels are great. A lot of students love them, and they are a great way to promote multiple literacies.

    I have a bunch of them, as I did my major project for YA Lit. last semester on the graphic novel format. I’ll bring them to class on Tues. if you want to check them out.

    Ray H.

  5. jillian24

    I’ve been converted to manga by my cousins, who are all avid readers of all kinds of literature. Still, my favorite types of books are picture books, which I use in all types of settings. Pictures and words are an old combination and a very powerful one. I wonder if our “hidden curriculum” has taught us that books that need pictures to emphasize their point are for small children. How many of us read picture books for ourselves? Or do we just read them to children?

    On another note, I’d like to go back to the point about advertising in books. I’m facinated by the thought that advertisers/ big companies could lower the cost of books for individuals or for schools. A worthwhile endevor, I think. The danger comes in not discussing the advertising for what it is. Students can be influenced by books in many ways, advertising is just one of them. It would be our job as the teachers to examine this influence so the students could make healthy, informed choices.

  6. traverse02

    I have always felt that graphic novels and manga would be a great way to promote literacy in the classroom. Having been a reader of comic books and the like for many, many years, I never really thought about how beneficial these resources could be since most people look down upon comics as childish fantasies and superhero stories reserved for geeks. I never would have expected it to be discussed in scholarly publications, but then I thought about some of the graphic novels I have read (Alan Moore’s Watchmen, James O’Barr’s The Crow, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, etc.) and realized how truly rich these texts really are.

    The medium goes far beyond the realm of picture books. I agree with Lesesne and Professor Stearns in that the pictures enrich the story and communicate with the reader on a very high artistic level. An example of this would be in the current series I am reading from manga author and artist Osamu Tezuka entitled Buddha. It is a retelling of the life of Siddartha Guatama mixed with fictional events and characters that enrich the world he inhabits and allow his teachings as the Buddha to flourish.

    In the first book, Kapilavastu (the kingdom to which Guatama was born as a prince), the Brahmin send a monk, Naradatta, to herald the birth of the one who will become Buddha. The story follows Naradatta, one of Tezuka’s fictional creations, as he interacts with members of all castes in search of the child. Before he comes to Kapilavastu, he meets many characters and has many adventures. One of these characters is Chapra, a member of the slave caste who tricks a ruler into thinking the boy saved his life. Chapra is adopted by the ruler and is eventually discovered to be a slave. Chapra’s anger over never being able to escape his slave roots is portrayed on one page where he is shown breaking all of the frames of the comic book in a fit of rage. This simply cannot be shown in an ordinary novel.

    Not only does Tezuka’s Buddha give the reader a page-turning adventure story, but it also gives us an insightful vision of the past that makes the life and teachings of the Buddha all the more accessible. Tezuka’s story wouldn’t work in any other format. It is just as legitimate than any other great book. I will bring in Book 2 of Buddha into class on Tuesday (I would bring book 1, but I am borrowing each from a friend as I go along).

    However, I do understand what Allison means when she asks, “Do some students not like graphic novels?” I can see where some would say they are too good for comic books. Like I said, people usually buy into the stereotypes that only science fiction dorks read comic books. But that’s just stupid in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with science fiction or comic books. After all, why are comic book adaptations so popular in film today? And what’s wrong with kids taking a character like Batman seriously? Comics are not just about grown men running around in tights. I would ecourage my students to read Watchmen to see what I mean by that.

  7. Mandy McKenney

    Alison, I think that I don’t particularly like graphic novels because they are so new to me. Perhaps repeated exposure would change my opinion. Also, if kids love them as much as some of our classmates are suggesting, I would be more than willing to try and get more familiar with them. (I havent’ ever read Manga, but I am going to check it out). I also think that I have gotten very accustomed to reading without pictures, as you mentioned, so it is hard for me to appreciate the pictures, when I love the simplicity of the words already. While some students don’t need pictures to stay engaged, others most certainly do. As long as graphic texts can appeal to a variety of reader’s needs, I can see the benefits of using them in the classroom. And Ray, definitely bring some to class. I want to check them out.

  8. canadawr5

    I like graphic novels because I think they make reading more interesting for students.
    Can advertising in books make them more affordable for the general public?
    I don’t know but if it did, do you think more people would read?

    Ray Canada

  9. allison

    I’m suddenly very interested in the graphic novel trend. Today I was at Fayetteville-Manlius middle school. I took a fifth grader down to the library and we checked out a Judy Moody book. While I was there, I overheard the librarian say something about a graphic novel. I jumped at the opportunity to ask her about them. She said that they are not very popular in the library there, and they have no manga books. This made me wonder. Where have the graphic novels caught on the most and why? Is it something worth implimenting into the curriculum? Lately I have been thinking that it could be valuable to have a graphic novel in the class room. It is a great opportunity to explore a new genre and compare it to more traditional forms.

    This librarian also said that she was limited in the graphic novels that she could offer, as opposed to a public library. I was struck by this. Ray’s comment about the first amendment and censorship reminded me of her comment. We must all remember that the first amendment is only applicable when dealing with the government, and in public schools, the right is even more limited. I know this is straying from the topic of graphic novels a little bit, but how does everyone feel about this? When it comes to some sexual content or vulgar language, it seems reasonable (especially when dealing with young children). But what about in other situations, such as the ones discussed in the reading?

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