Saturday, March 23, 2013

Graphic Novels for the Spanish Class

A good way to engage students to read is to use graphic novels in our classes. Our students live in an audiovisual society and in many cases graphic novels and comics are the first step for them to enjoy reading. And reading has to be also an enjoyable experience. According to the American Library Association graphic novels are: "independently conceived full length narratives, bound volumes of longer sequential art series and collections of works as brief as comic strips". It is not easy to draw the line between comics and graphic novels although graphic novels usually offer more complex plots than comics.

Graphic novels have seen an increase in popularity in the Spanish speaking countries in the last 30 years. Their consideration has also changed and they are seen now like great artistic works worth being studied and used in classrooms. I am sure that there are plenty of ways of getting familiar with graphic novels in Spanish but I usually have a look at the publisher Astiberri. They are specialized in graphic novels and comics and their catalogue offers a huge choice of graphic novels from Spanish speaking countries as well as translations into Spanish of originals in other languages.

Another possibility is to have a look at the winners of  the Premio Nacional de Comic in Spain. They started to be awarded in 2007 but the 8 winners until 2012 are very good choices that we can use.
The third possibility is to have a look at the different publishers catalogues and choose. I particularly like the catalogue of classics that SM publishers offers. Titles such as El Lazarillo de Tormes or Don Juan Tenorio are published in the graphic novel format. They can be a very good way of introducing the Spanish Classics to our classes.

For  high school bilingual or IB program I would like to suggest some graphic novels to work with our students. I tried to find graphic novels that are visually attractive and offer complex plots that will allow for lots of discussions and open doors to various projects.

Arrugas by Paco Roca received the Premio Nacional de Cómic Award in 2008 and many other awards in Spain and other countries. Arrugas deals with a very delicate topic: Alzheimer disease and how the elderly are, in many cases, put away in homes in our modern society so they don´t bother the rest of us. Along with these main ideas some others come out like friendship, solidarity, the need of never lose hope and faith and also the controversial euthanasia. The author did thorough research for the novel, got information from real cases and visited several homes to learn more about the topic. Arrugas has been translated to several languages and has been a success in many countries.

In 2011 the film Arrugas was released with screenplay by the own writer. The film also received general acclaim and has become a very popular resource for Spanish classes. For information on the film click below.

I found this proposal by the teacher Maria Pilar Carilla in her blog. She offers activities to work with students based both on the comic and the film. They can be very useful for advanced classes.

Graphic novels in general and Arrugas in particular can be great tool for students to enjoy reading in Spanish. Please come back to the blog for future posts about graphic novels.