Librarianship | January 30, 2020
The fourth annual SEE-IT Awards from EBSCO Information Services and the Childrens Book Council (CBC) are underway. In our Meet the Jurors series, we’ll highlight SEE-IT Award jurors, and why they’re passionate about graphic novels.
The SEE-IT (Stories Engagingly Expressed — Illustratively Told) Awards were created to recognize and showcase the year’s best graphic novels written by youth authors. Since its inception, there have been three winners: The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded, by Jim Ottaviani, The Witch Boy, by Molly Knox Ostertag and Speak: The Graphic Novel, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Submissions for this year’s award are open through February 15, 2020.
When it comes to selecting jurors for the SEE-IT Awards, there are certain criteria the committee is looking for, including librarians who have a minimum of an accredited MLS/MLIS or equivalent and a background in graphic novel collection development. One juror who meets, and far exceeds such criteria, is Paige Harp, the Coordinator of Infant Through Grade 12 Resources and a member of the Children’s and Young Adult Book Review Board of Missouri at Missouri State University’s Meyer Library in Springfield. A self-admitted “geek,” Harp loves comics and graphic novels and explained why this genre is so important for youth readers.
Graphic novels reach a wide variety of readers, especially reluctant readers, which is interesting because graphic novels are more difficult to read since you have to pay attention to the text as well as the visuals at the same time. Whenever I have someone ask me for a book recommendation for someone who doesn't like reading, I usually always point them to the graphic novels or manga (Japanese comics or graphic novels). Especially nowadays with the rising interest in movies and shows based on comics, I see more and more youth interested in the source material who may not have otherwise thought about reading graphic novels.
I also find that a lot of youth are really into webcomics since they are so accessible on the Internet or apps. Sometimes, when I ask someone what they read, I get "I don't read anything. Just webcomics" — guess what, that's reading! Not only do webcomics spark more reluctant reader interest, it helps to encourage youth to create their own comics.
There are so many... I can only narrow it down to two: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Rickety Stitch by James Parks and Ben Costa. Both of these graphic novels perfectly balance of deep, meaningful storytelling with ridiculous humor —something that can be really difficult, but when done right it makes for a fantastic story.
In August, I moderated a panel on LGBTQ representation in comics and pop culture. We discussed how comics and graphic novels have proven to show so much more representation before other mediums. I have found that graphic novels can meet so many different reader needs, like representation and showing diversity.
I love the wide range of genres, representation, and almost cult-like followings they can generate. Additionally, youth have such busy lives, and graphic novels can usually be fast reads that keep teens and young adults reading in their own time.
Read more information about Harp and the award in general by visiting the SEE-IT Awards website. Be sure to look out for the second installment of “Meet the Jurors” in March.
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