Many of us remember fondly the pocket-sized comic books of classic works of literature. Those mini precursors to the graphic novel saved a lot of us come final exam time, but they were also a great tool to use in order to understand great writers’ works, to peruse timeless works of literature in order to decide to read the full edition, and to simply be more well-rounded in terms of having been exposed to the classics.
Unfortunately, those great works are out of print and are prohibitively costly when they can be found for sale by a dealer or collector. But an existing comic publisher has expanded its business to include graphical representations of books for older readers.
Toon Books, who has produced award-winning titles for younger readers, announced the growth of Toon Graphics, which will launch with adaptations of novels by Neil Gaiman, Yvan Pommaux, and others. According to an interview by Brigid Alverson with Toon Book’s co-founder Françoise Mouly, the titles will speak to a larger audience while still offering everything that makes graphic novels enticing.
Possibly the most exciting news about Toon Graphics is its focused on education. Where the pocket editions of literary comics were considered a nice diversion in their day, they were certainly not expected to be a classroom reading tool by bibliopurists. But Toon Graphics will not only be aligned with the Common Core standards just as their titles for young readers were, many will also incorporate teacher material and additional information features to make them an excellent classroom resource. This educational focus of the titles, while still not impeding the enjoyment level of the works, makes the books a great investment for classrooms of a variety of age levels.
As more schools receive funding for technology, especially through literacy initiatives that help provide ebooks and devices, and as new platforms for digital comics and digital graphic novels open up, this medium stands to make a tremendous impact. This effect can not only reach literacy ability levels (especially in reluctant readers and at-risk students), but can also stand to improve readers’ attitudes towards reading for pleasure. By removing the “chore” aspect to reading instruction, graphic novels may give rise to a renaissance in reading.