Monday, 8 February 2016

I Read... Sunny Side Up

Lately I have been on the hunt for awesome graphic novels to use in a secondary classroom.  Graphic novels are so fantastic for building literacy, especially when you have a lot of struggling readers or ELL students in your class.  Allowing students to build visual literacy skills will improve their reading.  They learn to use the skills that good readers use (i.e.- making predictions, making connections, visualizing, etc.) with a text that is less intimidating.  As they practice these skills, they can learn how to transfer them to increasingly complex texts.

I was in the bookstore with my son last weekend and I let him pick out a book to take home.  While he was browsing, I saw one lone copy of Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, a brother-sister writing team.  The book looks inviting, and the description on the back drew me in.  I added it to our basket, and devoured it as soon as we got home.  Another good thing about graphic novels- I can finish them in no time, so I feel like I have accomplished something when I read one in 30 minutes!

Sunny Side Up is high on my list of favourite graphic novels, especially for middle school aged readers.  Sunny goes to visit her grandfather in Florida for the summer.  She expects beaches and Disney World, but instead she gets a retirement village.  As the story unfolds, Sunny goes between present day in Florida and the past school year back home in Pennsylvania.  The reader soon learns that the family sent Sunny to Florida so that they could deal with an issue at home.  The issue, which observant readers will catch on to pretty quickly, is a huge turning point in Sunny's life.  The way that she deals with her family issue will resonate with many students.  Even if they don't have the same problem that Sunny's family has, we can all relate to the idea of the family secret.

I especially loved that Sunny Side Up explores relationships in a very realistic way.  I could empathize with Sunny as she felt the boredom of the summer that seems like it will never end (I wish I had that problem as an adult!), the pain of learning that exciting plans you had with your best friend have been cancelled, the loneliness of being sent away from your family wen you need them the most, the excitement of a new friendship, and the relief of learning that you are not alone.

Food for Thought... what are your favourite graphic novels? 

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