Cover of “Eightball #22″Here’s an interesting story – “Graphic novels have more kids reading, but questions arise” by Rachael Scarborough King – from the New Haven Register. A teacher at a New Haven high school gave a graphic novel, Daniel Clowes’s Eightball #22 (pictured here), to a freshman girl student as a makeup summer reading assignment, but her parents feel that it’s inappropriate for her to be reading it because of some adult imagery. I haven’t read this graphic novel, so I can’t comment on that.

But the author makes a point in the story that I do want to mention – that still, in 2007, there are adults who don’t know exactly what graphic novels are, or who are disturbed by them and feel that they’re not appropriate for young people. I’ve spoken to a number of educationally conservative folks over the years – several of them librarians – who have been unhappy about the enthusiastic response graphic novels have received from the library community. One librarian recently said sadly to me that the material that we gave kids in school, like graphic novels and Web sites, continued getting more and more “dumbed down.” Of course kids didn’t want to work hard – that’s the way most kids are, this librarian said – but with graphic novels, teachers and publishers seemed happy to oblige them.

I’m a graphic novel fan, though. The article also mentions two graphic novels that were temporarily removed from a Missouri public library, and one of them – Blankets by Craig Thompson – is, I feel, one of the best YA novels ever published, prose or graphic, for its depiction of the clash between sexuality and religion in a teenage relationship.

I know that fads in reading matter change, and honestly, I’m waiting for the game/novels of the future, which will let their players/readers influence their story arc. Remember “Choose Your Own Adventure” paperbacks? Well, imagine them more sophisticated graphically than an Xbox game, with controllers and plot elements.

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