Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Popularity Papers

What does it take to be popular?
Graphic Novels are fun to read! 
Lydia and Julie want more than anything to figure out what it is that makes certain girls popular, and other girls like themselves anything but popular. They decide the only way to figure it all out is to observe the popular girls, do experiments testing their observations, and after a lot of experiments, they will finally find what makes certain girls... popular. Lydia wants to be a theater star but is constantly beat out by Jane, one of the popular girls. Julie on the other hand is shy but goes along with her friend Lydia for the project, providing neat handwriting and awesome artwork. They record their observations and experiments in this journal entitled: The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang actually written by Amy Ignatow, although the way this graphic novel is presented, you would swear it was written by the two girls in 5th grade! 

If you remember reading and loving the Amelia's Notebook series by Marissa Moss, you will find this book just as witty and awesome for adolescent girls and preteens.

A page from the graphic novel so you can get the idea of how much this looks like a real journal written by two 5th grade girls:

Teachers: Resources and ideas to aide you in teaching The Popularity Papers...

 Web Resources:
  • Comic Generator: This site from readwritethink is a comic generator. You may choose to have students write their own short graphic novel/comic in response to The Popularity Papers. Some students may choose to do their comic strip/graphic novel response using this interactive. 
  • Graphic Novel Guide for Teachers & Librarians: Not sure about teaching a graphic novel in the classroom? Not sure exactly what constitutes as a graphic novel? Well, if I can't convince you that The Popularity Papers (& other graphic novels) can be used in the classroom, maybe this article from Scholastic will help to convince you =) 

Key Vocabulary: I found this book to be very reader friendly with not very many difficult words that are not explained to the reader by Lydia or Julie. However, here are a few words I found that may need to be pre-taught or may need their definitions expanded on despite Lydia or Julie's explanations:  ogle, skein, basting, revolution, baroness, Norse, haiku, vintage, scarab, infirmary, eskrima, mutual, campaign, sanctum, dyslexic, garb, counterculture, mancala 
Before Reading: Make a KWL chart with students to find out what students know about the graphic novel genre and what they want to know about graphic novels. It is not a common place for students to read graphic novels in school, but you may find students know a lot about graphic novels because they read them at home.

During Reading: Before Lydia and Julie do any of their experiments, write down what you predict will happen when the girls go through with the experiment.

After Reading/Writing
  • Choose one of the "coolest people you know" like Lydia and Julie do at the end of their notebook. Write a persuasive essay in which you explain to the audience why this person deserves the title of one of the coolest people you know.
  • Use the comic creator link above, or pencils and paper to make your own short graphic novel about an incident that happened at school or in response to The Popularity Papers.
  • Finish the KWL chart with what students have learned about graphic novels through reading The Popularity Papers.
  • Write a haiku like Julie did, in response to The Popularity Papers choosing a topic such as: who is the most popular character in the novel? What experiment did you like the best? Will Lydia and Julie end up being popular in Junior High? Or any other response you can think of.

Ignatow, A. (2010). The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang. New York: Amulet Books.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)


  1. i LOVE that book! i've read it 90000000000 times it never gets old!

  2. Glad you liked it! You should do a project on it using one of my ideas, even though they are for teachers, students can use them too :) Happy Reading!

  3. Ive read this book it is so interesting. Its about these two girls Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham Chang who want to crack the code of popularity. The author rocks for writing such an interesting book ! Go Amy Ignatow


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