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Graphic Novel Discussion Questions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Students can get really excited about graphic novels, and it is important to support their motivation to read. This lesson gives you some questions to keep graphic novel discussions serious and educational.

Why Ask Graphic Novel Discussion Questions?

Are your students into reading graphic novels? This is such a popular genre among young people, and graphic novels can go a long way in getting reluctant readers more motivated about literacy. At the same time, many teachers and parents might worry that graphic novels are excessively frivolous and are not really inspiring critical thinking. One way to make sure that students are really learning as they read graphic novels is to engage them in discussions about their reading.

When you have literary discussions with students, you encourage them to take their own thinking seriously and articulate their points of view using evidence from the text. A good literary discussion will also help you understand your students' thought processes and plan more relevant curriculums moving forward. Finally, discussions help emphasize the interpersonal part of reading; by listening to one another, students construct meaning together.

The discussion questions in this lesson are designed to get students talking about graphic novels. Obviously, every graphic novel is different, and every group of students has different needs. You should modify these questions to suit your students' interests and abilities while remaining relevant to the specific texts they are working with.

Graphic Novel Discussion Questions

Questions About Characters

  • How would you describe the main and supporting characters in your graphic novel? How do you come to understand these characters' personality traits?
  • Which characters in the novel are most and least compelling to you, and why?
  • To what extent is the physical appearance and the body language of the character relevant to his or her personality? What is your opinion about this connection?
  • How, if at all, do the characters in the novel change throughout the text? What does the author do to indicate these changes? Do you find the changes realistic? Why or why not?
  • How would the characters seem different to you if you only read the text or only looked at the images? How do these elements work together, or not, in constructing the characters?

Questions About Plot

  • Do you find the plot of your graphic novel compelling? Realistic? Meaningful? Explain why or why not, using specific examples from the text.
  • How do the images and the language of your graphic novel work together to communicate the plot? How do you think the novel would be different if it were not written graphically?
  • How would you describe the major problem or problems in the plot? To what extent is the plot driven by these problems?
  • Does the graphic novel seem to be structured in terms of one major plot or a variety of subplots? What is your opinion about the structure?
  • How does the setting of the graphic novel contribute to the plot? Could the same plot occur in a different time and place? Explain why or why not.

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