Graphic novels do a great job at building an interest in reading that might not be there for many ELLs as well as native speakers of English. Properly used, teachers can use this type of reading material to do many things: show the importance of context clues (vocabulary or visuals), deal with the components of a novel (protagonist, climax, character development, etc.), grammar (but not overwhelming), writing (having students analyze what a character says and how he/she says it), discussion (with partners or in small groups---discussing a character's actions for example), etc. The limits of how these books can be used are up to the teacher.
Using graphic novels will offer your students with poor reading skills an opportunity to fully participate in classroom discussion assured that they have a solid understanding of the book's content. Such texts shore up reading skills of your ELLs to such a point that they can slowly transition over time to adapted novels (novels minus the visuals but written a year or two below grade level). With time, maybe an interest in reading will be developed to the point that your weaker students will want to read outside of class:)
ONLINE COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS--Digital Tools for Teachers
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