Graphic novels light up classrooms

Graphic novels bring together word and picture in the most splendid of ways.  In fact it was the Doctor himself, Seuss I mean, that said that “Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.” 

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) announced today that the multi-award winning Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman is joining the prescribed text list.  Narrative has always been absorbed in a myriad of ways and the Centre for Youth Literature is delighted that the VCAA have brought the graphic novel into the mix for students.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale

Maus depicts an interview between the author and his father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.  In bringing this text into the curriculum fold, students will be able to further explore this period of history through the richness of this medium.  The minimalist style of Spiegelman’s work shares the rawness of the subject matter, while his depiction different races as specific species of animal (Jews are mice, Germans as cats) draws on the rampant use of propaganda during war times.  Drawn with a fountain pen and correction fluid, flaws are evident in the work, heightening the personal nature of Spiegelmans’ work and the effect on his family.

The Centre for Youth Literature is committed to showcasing quality youth literature.  We are very excited that our upcoming Reading Matters conference features award winning graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama), poet Tim Sinclair (Run) and gaming aficionado Paul Callaghan (Freeplay festival).

Many teachers have used Maus in their classrooms to great effect. This opportunity for further exposure to Maus is a move towards progressive integration of alternate mediums into the school curriculum to augment reading and a greater understanding of the world.  It is a commendable move by the VCAA and hopefully the first of many graphic novels that make the step into the curriculum.


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