Promoting literacy has always been a mission of libraries, but the multimedia formats of information in the 21st century have changed what promoting literacy means. Analyzing and interpreting these information sources requires using multiple literacies, often simultaneously, and libraries must adapt their literacy education efforts to include more than just text literacy. Comics are a great resource for teaching multiple literacies, yet they are often undervalued or not taken seriously. An exploration of the literature about comics and literacy reveals that many still see comics as a stepping stone or gateway drug to other texts, and scholars that do present a serious study of comics do not offer practical applications for libraries. I apply this literature to examine how readers approach reading and interpreting comics, and the ways in which this process is similar to reading and interpreting today’s information formats. Comics, like many forms of information today, are multimodal, meaning they present several elements which each create meaning in unique ways. Readers must navigate many elements, including text, images, panels, and gutter space, and they engage multiple literacies simultaneously in order to interpret these elements. After exploring the multimodality of comics, my research concludes with recommending practical ways that libraries can use this information to introduce comics into their literacy promotion efforts. I suggest ways to introduce comics into existing programs, methods to promote comics alone, and options for introducing comics to a wider audience of patrons.
Literacy, Comics, Multimodal, Multiple Literacies, Libraries
Copyright © 2015 Amanda Bellis.
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