A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content.
Some teachers and librarians on the 2014 New York Comic Con panel listed these as some of the benefits and skills strengthened by graphic novels: motivating reluctant readers, inference, memory, sequencing, understanding succinct language, and reading comprehension.
Reading comic books is a great way to share the joy of reading with your child. If you grew up reading Archie or Spider-Man comics, you can share that with your reader now. It's a great way to strengthen your bond. Plus, kids look up to their parents and want to share and discuss those favorite comics or moments or scenes with you. It's a no brainer!
Graphic novels have many advantages:
- The images give an overview of the story, which encourages the child to read the whole thing. By looking at the images they can get a sense immediately of what is happening, particularly good for kids who are really turned off books.
- They are fast paced. For high energy, boisterous kids (like my two boys) slowing down can sometimes be a problem. But graphic novels move quickly, the plots are exciting and there is often a good dose of action along the way. This makes the exciting to read, again circumnavigating the ‘I hate reading’ problem.
- The images reinforce not replace the language. At first it may seem that this is just a glorified picture book but with a really good graphic novel a full understanding is only really reached when the words and illustrations work together. A kid may begin by skimming, but they’ll soon be turning back to re-read when to gain a better understanding of what is happening.
- The language is high quality. A really good graphic novel has to pair great illustrations with clear dialogue, the language and the images work together to create the story. With so little space for words they are chosen with a great deal of care for maximum impact and can seriously add to your child’s vocabulary. They also deal with complex themes that will challenge them beyond their reading level.
- They can be read over and over…and over. Graphic novels are often a quick read, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my son returning to the same book. He seems to read in different ways each time and I’m amazed by how much he picks up in such a short space of time. Like anyone returning to an old favorite, he reads more slowly and absorbs both the language, plot and characters in much more depth. Letting them read something that is familiar and fun (alongside work that is supportive and challenging) will reaffirm that they are a good reader and that books are fun.