As someone that works with kids and teens, I often have caregivers tell me their kid really likes graphic novels, however they want them to read a “real” book. I’ve even heard adults tell kids that graphic novels are candy. I’m here to set the record straight. Graphic novels are real books and they aren’t just candy. Graphic novels and comic books have a lot of really great benefits.
Graphic novels are a great way to introduce kids to new vocabulary because they often have higher reading levels than they are given credit for. Where else would children hear phrase like "A child of Hephaestus can be born with power over fire, but that hasn’t happened in centuries. Which is good, because it usually means something catastrophic is about to happen. We do not need any more catastrophes (The Lost Hero).” They are a great way for kids and teens to learn inference skills – everything isn’t laid out in front of them. They have to learn to read context clues from the illustrations. Plus, they are a great way to turn reluctant readers into voracious readers and struggling readers into confident readers.
There are many award-winning graphic novels out there. Maus by Art Spiegelman was the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang was the first graphic novel to win the Printz award. This year, New Kid by Jerry Craft was the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal. It is also one of the nominees for the 2020-2021 Bluebonnet Award. There is even an entire series of awards dedicated to graphic novels, the Eisner Awards – named after one of the earliest cartoonists in America, Will Eisner.
So please don’t discourage children from reading graphic novels, because graphic novels are great!
Check out more graphic novels on the Eisner Awards list and the staff made book lists below.