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Let’s Talk About Graphic Novels

Is reading graphic novels beneficial? Are they on par with “regular” books? The answer to both questions is yes!

The graphic novel is an art form all its own, pairing words and illustrations to bring stories to life. But, isn’t that just a picture book? Not exactly. Graphic novels tend to use a different format, usually with multiple illustrations per page. It often looks like a comic strip, but longer than what you’d see in the Sunday paper. Of course, there is some overlap between the two formats. Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner is a picture book that looks a lot like a graphic novel. You might find books like that shelved in either section.

Mr. Wuffles

What do graphic novels offer to children, besides an entertaining tale? Reading Rockets points out several ways they build literacy skills, including…

  • Motivation: Reluctant readers are often drawn to the illustrations and relatively brief text. Kids will get a sense of accomplishment when they finish the book on their own.
  • Visual literacy: The illustrations and words work together to create a complete story. Readers are rewarded for paying attention to both.
  • Learning words: The pairing of word and picture makes it easy to learn new vocabulary. This is great when learning a new language.

All's Faire cover

There are graphic novels for all ages, from young children to adults. They come in every genre, so it’s easy to find something your child will enjoy. Sci-fi? Memoir? Humor? Adventure? Non-fiction? Yep! All that and more. The style of illustration varies, as well, from black and white to full color, cartoonish to realistic.

Graphic novels can be wordless, too, telling a story entirely through pictures. That’s something you’ll never get in a “traditional” book. Reading pictures is a skill, and builds an understanding of narrative structure. That means even a book with no words at all is boosting your child’s reading comprehension. Try chatting together about the story. They’ll probably enjoy retelling it to you. BirdCatDog by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch is a wordless graphic novel that tells three parallel stories.

If you’re looking for advice on choosing titles, library staff are happy to help. You can also check out this list of quality graphic novels compiled by Common Sense Media.

Megan is a Children’s Library Assistant at CLP – East Liberty. When she isn’t reading fantasy, magical realism and/or pretty much any children’s book, she enjoys gaming, watching movies, and writing fiction and poetry, some of which has been published.

Check out staff picks that include graphic novels

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