Today’s post comes to us from Ali, our Head of Children and Teen Services.
You bring your child into the library to find a book for them to read. They don’t seem interested in any chapter books you suggest. They find the graphic novel section and seem really intrigued by a few titles. You don’t allow them to choose one of those books because you want them to read a “real book”. Sound familiar? I see this scenario often in the Children’s Room. A child finally finds something they want but are told that, “those books don’t count”.
Graphic novels and comic books have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Parents and educators often dismiss these books as “junk” however, it is important to see the benefits of reading graphic novels. They are great resources for teaching important literacy skills, especially with unenthusiastic readers. They serve as an initial gateway to reading because they often have more visual appeal than traditional novels.
Graphic novels are great for visual learners because they force readers to decipher differences in the text format to determine narration, tone, or mood. The illustrations also help to decode difficult vocabulary. Graphic novels can serve as an introduction to non-linear storytelling. Each chapter may present a different time period or flashback to a past event forcing the reader to stop and contemplate the story.
I think it is important to start viewing graphic novels as “real books” because they truly offer so many literacy aids. They offer the same benefits as traditional chapter books, plus some. If you’re looking for a good starting place, here are a few of my favorite new graphic novels:
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol. A hilarious memoir of a middle school student who tries to fit in. It’s not easy for Vera, being a Russian girl surrounded by friends who live in fancy houses and go to expensive summer camps. Her mother can only afford to send her to a Russian summer camp. Vera is sure she will fit in, but the camp is not exactly what she expected.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson. Thirteen-year-old Bina and her best friend Austin do everything together. Austin is off to soccer camp for a month, so it’s up to Bina to find something to do this summer. When Austin returns, he isn’t the same as when he left. Can they reestablish their friendship?
Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss. Grace decides to help her classroom’s pet guinea pig, Gus, because she knows what being lonely feels like. She is determined to do something special for her four-legged friend.
Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson. Izzy loves acting in skits and making up funny stories. Bri is the smart one. But she wants people to see there’s more to her than just her good grades. This books captures the angst, drama, and humor of middle school life.