Don't Judge a Book by its Genre: Graphic Novels ARE "Real Books"!

It's okay if all your child wants to read are graphic novels. Really, it is! Graphic novels are real books, reading them is real reading, and they are helping your child develop important skills just like reading a traditional book does.

Each year I hear of teachers limiting students' access to graphic novels - even when the student has been told to choose books themselves - and parents dismissing their child's graphic novel selections and insisting on books they deem more legitimate.



Reading graphic novels is still reading - even though the text is broken up into smaller chunks, these books contain words for the reader to decode just like any other reading. What's more, the reader of a graphic novel is decoding words and pictures together, at the same time, and synthesizing these information sources in their brain. This creates an even deeper and more complex reading experience than text alone! 


These smaller chunks of text make graphic novels and comics more accessible to the reluctant or struggling reader (as well as English language learners and those with learning disabilities). And this reader, finding success and enjoyment with graphic novels, will have the confidence to tackle longer, more dense works. Graphic novels and comics can teach kids how much fun books are! Plus, 88% of kids say they are more likely to finish a book they've picked out themselves. Letting kids read what they want to read increases reading motivation overall!

According to research by Northwestern University as well as the Cleveland Public Library, reading graphic novels also helps kids master sequencing and linear thought, build visual literacy, strengthen attention to detail, and increase reading comprehension (turns out when you both see a picture and read words that describe it, you remember it better).

As one teacher-librarian points out, graphic novels are not comic strips, but instead are "full length stories told in paneled, sequential, graphic format. Many genres are written in graphic novel format, including fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography, and nonfiction - they are NOT all about superheroes!"

Like all other books, there are varying levels of literary quality among graphic novels. But a good graphic novel has the same storytelling skill, original uses of language, thought-provoking complexity, and literary merit that a traditional book can have - plus compelling, beautiful artwork.

If you have a kid in grades 3-6 who loves graphic novels, bring them to Comics and Cookies, our tween graphic novel book club! We're meeting Thursday, October 17 from 3:30-4:30 and discussing Babymouse #1: Queen of the World! (Pssst: You can come even if you haven't read the book. Also, there will be cookies).

For some great graphic novel recommendations, check out this list of Book Riot's 50 must-read middle-grade graphic novels and this list of 15 diverse graphic novel picks for middle-graders and teens.




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I can't figure out where the confusion came in. Maybe someone just didn't read the title a second time.

Hard cover, paperback and comics (including garphic novels) are not genres. They are formats in the same way that vinal, CD and MP3 are not genres but formats.

Anne W's picture

Thanks for your feedback!

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