“My child is not a strong reader, and we’re struggling to find a book he will stick with. He’s easily discouraged, and he says he hates reading. Can you help me find a book he’ll like?”
I’ve been asked this question many, many times. Each time, my mind jumps right to graphic novels.
To be honest, I often dread the reaction I’ll get when I guide the parent over to our juvenile graphic novel section. Often the response is something like, “Oh no, not a comic book. I’d like my child to read a real book.”
I still haven’t figured out the perfect way to respond, so I figured I’d give it a shot here in this blog post. Here’s what I want parents to know:
Graphic novels are real books, and they’re a great choice because:
Graphic novels can capture a reader’s attention from the very beginning with pictures, fewer words, and active dialogue.
For many readers (myself included), it can be overwhelming to see so many words on a page. For struggling readers, it is especially difficult and often discouraging. When a reluctant reader can make it through the pages of a book with ease, there is also a sense of accomplishment, which leads to confidence.
Pairing words and pictures aids in understanding.
If the reader cannot infer the meaning of the words on the page, the pictures help to process the information and give a deeper sense of what is happening in the story.
Graphic novels help teach grammar, narrative, and other story elements.
Many graphic novels even introduce more advanced vocabulary than other books, because readers can rely on the pictures for help with comprehension.
Graphic novels may also be a stepping stone to other literature.
Young graphic novel readers who become more excited about reading may make the leap to more “traditional” books. Even if they don’t make the leap…
…Graphic novels are a legitimate and respected format in children’s literature.
Graphic novels are gaining more and more respect and recognition among teachers, librarians, and award committees! In the past two years, two graphic novels, El Deafo by Cece Bell and Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, were awarded Newbery Honors. This year, Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona was named a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Best of all, graphic novels are enjoyable!
And isn’t it worth celebrating when your child picks up a book just because he or she wants to?