Have you ever heard someone say that graphic novels and comics aren’t “real reading?” Or perhaps you’ve heard they are “too easy” or “not age-appropriate.” We’re here to dispel those rumors! Not only are there plenty of amazing graphic novels written specifically for kids and teens, but graphic novels are a great way to learn new words, build reading comprehension, and increase reading and visual literacy skills.
The term “graphic novel” refers to a format, not a genre. It can be fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, realistic, romance, western, or anything and everything you can imagine. There are graphic novels written for kids, such as the fantasy-adventure Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, and ones written with teens in mind, such as the adorable Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. There are also graphic novels for adult audiences. What ties them all together is that they rely on pictures to tell a story.
So why are graphic novels so great? Graphic novels:
- Encourage reluctant and struggling readers to read. With their exciting stories and interesting artwork, graphic novels are a great way to encourage reluctant readers to read. The pictures and length can make graphic novels seem less intimidating, but they have plot twists, complex characters, and conflict just like traditional novels, and the fast pace keeps readers engaged.
- Help us learn new words. While they have a lot of pictures, graphic novels are also full of words. Research from the University of Oregon’s Center on Teaching and Learning revealed that graphic novels have an average of 53.5 rare words per thousand, whereas children’s books have an average of 30.9 rare words, and adult books have 52.7. Since the images and words work together to tell the story, readers can build vocabulary with the help of context clues from the images.
- Build reading comprehension. Graphic novels follow the same structure as traditional novels. Readers need to decode words, follow plots, analyze meaning, and learn new things in order to make sense of the book. This helps build knowledge recall and critical thinking skills.
- Encourage imagination and play. Graphic novels are full of compelling stories and beautiful artwork that encourage readers to think creatively and use their imagination. Imagination and play are critical to childhood development, helping our brains grow and learn. We also tend to remember more of something we enjoy than something we find boring.
All levels of readers benefit from graphic novels. They are less intimating for reluctant readers, help build literacy skills, and provide excellent, complex stories in their own right. Graphic novels are also a perfect pick for summer reading!
Explore some of the amazing graphic novels Sno-Isle has available for kids and teens:
- A Picture's Worth 1000 Words: K-8 Graphic Novels
- Art + Words = An Unforgettable Story: Teen Graphic Novels
Looking for more graphic novels? Check out these resources:
- How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love To Read | Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- Novelist Plus Library account login required.
- Queer Comics Database
- Sno-Isle’s Teen Graphic Novels Page
- To receive even more recommendations, contact us.