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Are Graphic Novels Real Books?

Category: Where The Child Things Are
Posted: February 26, 2019

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

If your kids are really into graphic novels, they aren’t alone. The market for graphic novels is exploding with popularity. It’s even become a billion dollar industry. Graphic novel titles for middle grade readers even hit bestseller lists. Readers are always asking us for Dogman, The Baby-Sitters Club, Hilo, or for Rania Telegemier’s stuff.

Even though graphic novels are popular now, that wasn’t always the case. It’s easy to see why they are still often misunderstood, so I’m here to bust some common myths about graphic novels.

Graphic novels are only about superheroes.

I’ve read graphic novels about Renaissance fairs, narwhals, the Dust Bowl, and even Hurricane Katrina. Graphic novels are a vehicle for all kinds of stories and genres from serious to silly.

Graphic novels are only for boys.

More and more graphic novels and comic books about women are being published. More women are working in the comic book industry. Axel Alonso, Marvel’s editor-in-chief, is quoted as saying: “If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.”  Watch for even more diversity and female superheroes coming soon.

Graphic novels aren’t challenging.

When we read graphic novels, we’re reading both complex text and illustrations to decode what’s happening. We’re looking at use of color, tone, facial expressions, line movements, etc. while we’re simultaneously reading text. Because the format makes us read both the illustrations and text to understand, we read more slowly. In our modern world, visual literacy is just as important as print/text literacy. Graphic novels teach young readers how to process an increasing amount of visual information.

Graphic novels aren’t real books.  

Graphic novels build the same skills we use when reading traditional print books. This format often contains more advanced vocabulary than the average book at the same age/grade/interest level. These books still utilize literary devices, like metaphors, point of view, punctuation, alliteration, and inference.

Graphic novels have even won prestigious literary awards like the Pulitzer Prize and the Printz Award.

Graphic novels motivate kids.

It’s not a myth! Graphic novels have been shown to motivate readers, especially those who are struggling. Illustrations provide visual cues to help kids understand the text. This format can also help children with Autism decode facial expressions, body language, and learn how to recognize emotions in others.

Looking for some great graphic novel recommendations? Stop by the Youth Information Desk or check out more titles here.

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