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The Top 10 Reasons Graphic Novels are Great for Kids

Article Source: MetroParent, written by Mali Anderson. See the original article here.

When thinking of children learning to read, parents often imagine a kid curled up on the couch with a classic novel. But that’s not always how it works out. Some kids are drawn to books filled with images; the books might even have more pictures than words. If this sounds familiar, don’t fret. Graphic novels are a great way for kids to develop a love of literature.

“Lots of parents associate graphic novels with ‘comic books,’ and they think of them as inferior to ‘real’ books. However, the graphic novel is a respected genre of literature, containing some truly outstanding works of art. We can all think of trashy novels we’d rather our kids not read, but these don’t lead us to discourage our kids from reading all novels. Instead, we direct our kids to the better novels, and we can do the same with graphic novels,” says Dr. Virginia Zimmerman, professor of English at Bucknell University in the US.

Need more convincing? Here are 10 reasons to allow graphic novels into your home.

  1. 1. Pairing art with words is fun! It is possible your little one will be attracted to graphic novels without any prodding, and that is a great reason to let kids read them, because they want to read them on their own accord. There are plenty of books kids will read for school or research that they will not enjoy, why not let them sharpen their skills with books they choose on their own?
  2. 2. Learn about story elements. You don’t need to be reading a classic to learn about literary devices. The same elements are used in graphic novels, too. Both introduce young readers what is needed to move a narrative forward; characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.
  3. 3. Advance reading skills. “Graphic novels promote critical reading. When reading a graphic novel, children learn to navigate a printed page in multiple ways. For example, you cannot simply read from left to right. In order to grasp the story line, you have to follow and read the words as well as the pictures to understand,” says Jan Lacina, professor and associate dean of graduate studies in the College of Education at Texas Christian University.
  4. 4. Variety. It’s the spice of life, right? Think about all of the types of reading adults do throughout their day. Parents read reports for work, novels for pleasure, magazines for tips, and even take in stories on their phones. Sometimes variety in a reading diet helps to create a desire for more information. Allowing children to read graphic novels could lead to them naturally picking up a classic without adults even suggesting they do so.
  5. 5. Visual learning is part of life. We live in a visual culture, and because of this, it is common for parents to feel a child would benefit from a break in the imagery, a time to take in a story solely through words. While this is true for some kids, other children find the visual sequence of a graphic novel preferable because we live in a visual culture. The combination of words and pictures to complete a narrative is logical for them.
  6. 6. A great choice for reluctant readers.“Graphic novels motivate many children to read, and most importantly, these books include complex plots and well-developed characters. Graphic novels may appeal to those children who struggle to read traditional texts,” continues Lacina.
  7. 7. Reading a graphic novel could lead to creating a graphic novel. We are all drawn to what interests us. If your child prefers drawing to writing, the idea of writing a book may be daunting and abstract. But, if they are immersed in graphic novels, they may be attracted to storytelling and could find the combination of images and words a good fit for their own self-expression.
  8. 8. Images can help with reading comprehension. Context clues are a natural way for readers of all ages to learn new words and concepts. For young readers, there is the benefit of visual support to words. So, even if a word is new to their vocabulary, they can deduce the meaning of a sentence by looking at the visuals provided.
  9. 9. The more children read, the more they learn. Everything we read helps all of us to become better readers. Sometimes reading contemporary works can mean we are reading classic works, they just might be in their infancy.
  10. 10. There are so many to choose from! As graphic novels have grown in popularity, there are more options for every age group and every interest. This means not only that there are more titles in general, but more top-notch books to choose from. “Many critics had Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl on their lists of best books last year…Art Spiegelman’s Maus is a classic. And Brian Selznick writes beautiful and innovative books that are hybrid novels and graphic novels. There are many other excellent graphic novels that kids should be encouraged to read,” continues Dr. Zimmerman.

Better Reading has put a list together of 20 graphic novels that are perfect for Primary School aged readers. For more specific age recommendations, please see below:

Smile – Raina Telgemeier (Ages 9+)

The best-selling autobiographical tale of young Raina, and her new braces. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.

The Amulet Series – Kazu Kabuishi (Ages 8+)

On their first night in their grandmother’s strange house, Emily and Navin’s mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature. Determined to rescue her, Emily and Navin are led into a world of robots, talking animals, flying ships, new friends . . . and enemies.

El Deafo – Cece Bell (Ages 9+)

In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

Ubby’s Underdogs – Brenton E. McKenna (Ages 10+)

Set in the 1940s when the pearling town of Broome is recovering from World War II, The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon is an epic tale that follows the heroics of Ubby, a street-wise Aboriginal girl and the leader of a rag-tag gang known as the ‘Underdogs’.

Brave – Svetlana Chmakova (Ages 10+)

In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different–math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a huge problem when you always get picked last.

Opposite Land – Charlotte Rose Hamlyn (Ages 8+)

After the worst day ever, Steve discovers a strange book written upside down and back to front. That night, when its words become mysteriously clear and Steve begins to read them, she’s transported to the topsy-turvy world in the book – Opposite Land.

Sidekicks – Dan Santat (Ages 8+)

Captain Amazing, superhero and saviour of Metro City, is getting old. He’s out all hours battling arch-villains, catching thieves, and helping little old ladies cross the street. He doesn’t even have time for his house full of pets. He needs – a SIDEKICK!

Real Friends – Shannon Hale (Ages 10+)

Following little Shannon’s life from kindergarten through fifth grade, Real Friends captures the emotional roller coaster ride of friendship, from navigating the tricky waters of cliques and bullies to her never-ending struggle to stay in “The Group.” Shannon’s honest and heartfelt story reminds us of how hard it was to learn what real friends are—and why finding them is worth the journey.

Mighty Jack – Ben Hatke (Ages 10+)

Mighty Jack is vivid and sensitive modern-day graphic novel retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is summer, and Jack is looking after his mostly non-verbal autistic sister when she speaks and tells him to swap his Mum’s car for a box of beans. He does, and an absolutely wild adventure follows.

Roller Girl – Victoria Jamieson (Ages 10+)

The NYT bestselling story of friendship, self-belief, and finding your place in the world – no matter how tough it might be.

Missile Mouse – Jake Parker (Ages 8+)

Missile Mouse, secret agent for the Galactic Security Agency, is a risk taker and a rule breaker, which is why he’s in hot water at GSA headquarters. Then RIP, the Rogue Imperium of Planets, kidnaps a scientist who knows about the Star Crusher, a doomsday machine capable of destroying the entire universe.

The Babysitter’s Club Graphic Series – Raina Telgemeier (ages 9+)

Raina Telgemeier, using the signature style featured in her acclaimed graphic novels Smile and Sisters, perfectly captures all the drama and humor of the original novels!

Dog Man – Dav Pilkey (Ages 7+)

When Greg the police dog and his cop companion are injured on the job, a life-saving surgery changes the course of history, and Dog Man is born. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound has a real nose for justice.

KidGlovz – Julie Hunt (Ages 10+)

KidGlovz is a musical genius. His gift is so precious that he’s kept under lock and key. But when a young thief helps him escape, Kid must embark on a perilous journey through which he will discover the terrifying nature of his talent. A spellbinding graphic fable about friendship and freedom.

Secret Coders – Gene Luen Yang (Ages 10+)

Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!

5 Worlds: The Sand Warriors – Alexis and Mark Seigel (Ages 9+)

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes – (Ed) Kazu Kabuishi (Ages 9+)

Seven clever stories answer one simple question: what’s in the box? Funny, fantastic, spooky, and suspenseful, each of these unique and beautifully illustrated short graphic works revolves around a central theme: a mysterious box and the marvels—or mayhem—inside.

Bone: Out from Boneville – Jeff Smith (Ages 9+)

The BONE adventures tell the story of a young bone boy, and his two cousins, who are banned from their homeland of Boneville. When the cousins find themselves mysteriously trapped in a wonderful but often terrifying land filled with secrets and danger – and special new friendships – they are soon caught up in adventures beyond their wildest dreams.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick (Ages 10+)

Orphan, clock keeper, thief: Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. Combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Caldecott Honor artist Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience in this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel – by Eoin Colfer (Ages 9+)

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a brilliant criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories. These fairies are armed and they’re dangerous.


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