Inanimate Alice: Graphic Novel for the 21st Century Student
By Lisa Tran
The kids in our classrooms today are digital natives, born into a technological and digitally driven society learning to read from a video game or computer screen. These new types of readers may struggle with reading literature in the traditional book form.
How can the rich literature found in the pages of plain books compete with the interactive, flashy features of video games or an e-book? When it comes to the classroom the answer is clear, group discussions about novels and plays cannot compete with the interactive qualities of the newest technologies aimed specifically for students who desire an alternative way of reading and learning.
How can we encourage a digital native to read literature today? Perhaps the answer lies in a compelling new interactive digital initiative that is chalk full of flashy features, but is primarily a graphic novel with strong narrative elements and comprehensive aids for teachers to follow: Inanimate Alice.
It is hard to describe the Inanimate Alice concept without seeing it. Inanimate Alice is a novel meets video game meets movie, almost. It mixes manipulated graphics, text, original music, and sound effects. Inanimate Alice tells the story of Alice, a young girl growing up in the first half of the 21st century and her imaginary digital friend, Brad. Over ten episodes, each a self-contained story, Alice grows from an eight-year old living with her parents in a remote region of Northern China to a talented mid-twenties animator and designer working for the biggest games company in the world.
Inanimate Alice reads like a novel, but reels in your attention in a way only a video game or movie can. It is a matrix of blossoming themes and intriguing storylines. By stages, every theme, every element becomes more intense, sophisticated, and grown-up. From scratchy typefaces, simple dialogue, and rudimentary gadgets it feels real, edgy, and very relatable.
The series has an inherent energy and as such, engages students. Its concept calls out for interaction. At certain points in the narrative, the reader searches for ways to continue on the story by playing the built-in game. And you want to continue reading because the story is so captivating. What’s Alice’s secret? Why does she keep moving across the globe? What is going to happen next?
Inanimate Alice is a high quality literary experience told in a new form. It opens up the wonder of story-telling to a wider range of students and learning styles. Inanimate Alice is perfect for those not generally inclined toward reading, whether they have actual barriers to reading text or because they are visual learners or otherwise not geared to learning by written text. Inanimate Alice is a new way for digital natives to enjoy reading today.