Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Zoss

Second Advisor

Caroline Sullivan

Third Advisor

Ewa McGrail


This qualitative study explored high school students’ reading experiences with graphic novels. Historically, comics and graphic novels were not recognized by the mainstream as a respectable form of literature, thereby prompting the medium exclusion from school curricula (Lewkowich, 2019b; Versaci, 2001). However, graphic novels are now gaining popularity and becoming a preferred reading choice for students (Carter, 2007; Lewkowich, 2019b). Rooted in transactional theory of reading and sociocultural theories of meaning making, this case study examined how students made meaning from reading graphic novels, comics, and manga within an English language arts classroom setting. Data collection included recorded conversations during independent reading and semi-structured interviews. Data analysis involved multiple coding cycles to develop themes describing the roles of semiotics, transactional reading, sociocultural contexts, and joy in students’ reading experiences. I found that students took advantage of their access to technology in a STEM setting to pursue the books that brought them joy. Reading graphic novels humanized their reading identities within a STEM high school setting. By focusing on students’ perspectives of reading graphic novels, the study added to the ongoing conversation about high school students making their own reading choices and the importance and relevance of graphic novels in the English language arts curriculum.


File Upload Confirmation