Exploring Graphic Novels

Upper School English teachers have introduced a new unit in English I courses called Voice and Choice: Reading Words and Images. Students read the graphic novel “Operatic” by Kyo Maclear and Byron Eggenschwiler, which features music as a central theme. They were also invited to read at least two more graphic novels of their choosing, from a collection of more than 250 new and classic titles curated with Laura Klein, Upper School librarian.

Students were visited by Cris Siqueira, owner of Lion’s Tooth Books in Bay View, Wisconsin, who spoke about the artistry behind graphic novels and gave a book talk about new titles for students to consider.  In addition, 9th grade students were invited to a presentation by Head of School Steve Hancock, who is an accomplished musician. He spoke about musical bias and his own preconceptions about different musical genres. He invited students to try something new by listening to opera, specifically arias, sung by Maria Callas, a figure featured in “Operatic.” “I really, really liked Mr. Hancock’s lesson because we were able to experience a new teacher and learn in a new environment,” said Wyatt Cox ’25. “We could actually relate to opera music, and we learned how to read faces and understand opera.” 

The unit is designed to help students reflect on their experience and build their confidence and capacity to independently choose books to read for pleasure. It’s also designed to make reading a social activity, where students talk about books both during and outside of class. “I think the Voice and Choice unit gives us options to branch out in order to read something we find powerful,” said Hannah Liberman ’25. “Mr. Hancock gave us things to think about in terms of music, and the opera we listened to was impressive. A voice can attract many people.” 

Many thanks to Upper School English teachers Kate Gay, Danielle Goldstein, and Emily Ihrke, for their work to establish Voice and Choice: Reading Words and Images.   

A close-up image of the %22Operatic%22 book cover
Students sit at a table discussing %22Operatic%22
Steve Hancock discusses %22Operatic%22 book with students seated at a table
Cris Siqueira, owner of Lion’s Tooth Books in Bay View, Wisconsin, speaks to students