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Camp by Kayla Miller

Graphic Novels ~ As teachers we hear so much about them.  Many parents (and some educators) feel that graphic novels “don’t count” as reading.  I couldn’t disagree more. There are many, many benefits to reading this type of book. Some benefits that I have found are:

  • Inferring – this is perhaps the biggest benefit to my readers.  Students learn to look closely at the illustrations, and are able to  practice their inferring skills using both the text and the illustrations.  What a motivating way for students to practice this skill!
  • Graphic novels are motivating ~reluctant readers are willing to pick up a graphic novel and read it.  They are drawn to the pictures but once they read, there is much more text than expected.
  • Graphic novels are talkworthy~teachers can push their readers to find evidence to support their thinking using both the pictures and the words

Camp, by Kayla Miller is a graphic novel about two best friends heading off to summer camp.  Willow and Olive are so excited for summer camp summer, and things start off great! After a few days of activities, Olive begins to make new friends.  Willow, however, is quiet and has a more difficult time making friends, becoming jealous of Olive and her new friends. Willow wants Olive to be her only friend, and tries to monopolize her time, but Olive is unaware of Willow’s feelings.  Through the help of camp counselors, the girls are able solve their problem.. 

Teacher thoughts:

  • This was an immediate favorite in our class, with a long list of students waiting to read it.  
  • Students could relate to Olive’s outgoing nature and easy ability to make friends, but they also empathized with Willow, who was homesick and feeling jealous of her best friend’s new friends.  This resulted in many discussions between teacher and students and between students and students.
  • Kayla Miller develops the characters in Camp so consistently to typical elementary students.  Students will easily see themselves in one of the characters and make immediate connections  
  • This is a great opportunity for students to study characters, including the more challenging concepts of characters changing over time.  Students can clearly identify changes in Willow.

Students said:

  • I liked how the author could relate to what 4th grade life is all about.
  • The author wrote like she was on a camping trip and she had a friend like Willow who got mad at her.
  • I liked how the characters changed- you could really see changes in both of them.
  • I noticed that they were really close friends, but then they had a fight.  I liked how they became friends again at the end
  • A few students wrote about Camp in their reading response journals:


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