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Why Graphic Novels are Good for Kids

Graphic novels have become increasingly popular for children.  There are currently many different types of graphic novels from Captain Underpants to the Smile books by Raina Taigelmeier.  Graphic novels have not always been considered appropriate reading for children.  Lately, graphic novels are flying off the shelves, jumping into virtual shopping carts, and being embraced by librarians and teachers.  Here are some of the reasons that graphic novels are now the it lit for kids right now.

Graphic novels are full of text

Graphic novels are great reading material for kids because there are a lot of words on each page.  The words are just combined with pictures.

Graphic novels combine pictures and text which help keep kids interested and learning

Unlike video, children can control the pace at which they absorb the information on the pages which helps them to be able to go back and look at pictures and words to really understand.  Another benefit is that when pictures are combined with words, kids are able to grasp the understanding of new and advanced words. 

Graphic novels can engage reluctant readers

Graphic novels are appealing because they often have exciting story lines and well-developed characters.  In addition, pairing text with pictures makes stories more engaging and fun for children.  We live in an increasingly visual world, so combining pictures with words just makes more sense for many kids.  Many children who struggle with reading and/or don’t enjoy reading, will read graphic novels and then branch out into other books.

Graphic novels have well-developed plots, themes, stories, and characters

Graphic novels have all the story elements of other books.  The characters are rich and participate in real life events or epic fantasy tales.  Children are drawn to the characters because they are able to not just read about but can also see the characters have adventures.

Graphic novels often tackle coming of age issues in a way that normalizes difficult issues by letting the child not just read but also “see” others sharing the same struggles

Raina Telgemeier has written a series of books including Smile and Sisters that are beloved by tween girls.  Both of these books are an autobiographical account of Raina’s struggles with an accident, friends, braces, boys, and her relationship with her sister.  Girls can easily identify with young Raina because they can see her struggling to talk to a boy or get her braces tightened.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney offers boys a coming of age character that shares their triumphs and challenges of talking to their crushes, staying loyal to a best friend, and relationships with parents and siblings.  This series follows the diaries of fictional character, Greg Heffley, his friends, and family.

Graphic novels can turn children into history enthusiasts

Graphic novelists bring history to life in a form that children can easily understand and appreciate.  Historic figures come to life on the pages of graphic novels in a way that they do not in text alone.  For example, “March” by John Lewis tells the story of his life from growing up as a share cropper’s son in the South to being a leader of the civil rights movements. 

Kids who read graphic novels will often want to make their own graphic novels

Many kids love to draw and will want to make their own graphic novels because the emphasis is on drawing as much as writing.  This can be a good way to have children illustrate what they know about a topic or an idea.  This also give children for whom writing is more difficulty, a chance to share their stories. 

What about when graphic novels are turned into movies?

Many graphic novels are being turned into movies.  Sometimes when graphic novels are turned into movies, there is some violence.  To determine if a movie is appropriate for your child, check out:

For more information for the history of graphic novels and schools, you can watch this Ted Talk by Gene Luen Yang who is a both a teacher and a cartoonist.

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