The benefits of reading graphic novels
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As someone who first learned to read by reading Filipino komiks, I’m a strong advocate of using graphic novels to encourage school-going children to read. With their eye-catching visuals and imaginative plots, graphic novels are a sure-fire way to get children interested in the written word.
A graphic novel is more than just a stepping stone to regular books. A graphic novel is, in and of itself, a form of art that transcends the written word. There can be no doubt about the cultural significance of graphic novels, especially after “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s visual chronicle of his father’s ordeal as a concentration camp prisoner during World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.
Experts may debate whether or not graphic novels are a form of literature, but they can all agree that reading graphic novels can have numerous benefits for school children. I outline some of the ways graphic novels can positively impact young readers.
Develop reading skills — As they follow along the story, children develop abilities like making inferences, reading between the lines, analyzing character motivation, and forming opinions about the author’s writing, among other things.
Keep children engaged —In our increasingly visual word, the eye-popping illustrations in graphic novels hold readers’ attention and motivate them to keep reading.
Build vocabulary — Graphic novels make maximum use of limited space for text. Words are carefully considered for their impact, precision, and narrative value.
Accommodate those with learning difficulties — Readers with autism learn to read social and emotional cues from the characters’ facial expressions and actions. Those with dyslexia can build their reading confidence by enabling them to read entire pages without being overwhelmed by big walls of text.
Teach empathy — Reading encourages children to imagine what it’s like to be in the someone else’s shoes. From a hearing-impaired girl to a Jewish Holocaust survivor, the characters of graphic novels can teach readers about self-love, tolerance, compassion, and gratitude.
Foster creativity and imagination — The enthralling combination of vivid illustrations and stirring text help spark the imagination of readers and inspire them to build worlds and characters of their own.
Supplement harder to read texts — From Homer’s “Odyssey” to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” many classic texts have been adapted into graphic novels. Some readers my find these works difficult to read in purely textual form. Reading the classic text alongside the graphic novel can help with comprehension of the story.
There’s plenty of graphic novels for children of all reading levels and interests. Here are a few of my personal recommendations:
Maus, Vol. 1: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (Paperback) and Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began (Paperback) by Art Spiegelman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.
The Complete Persepolis (Paperback) by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. This book has been adapted into a major motion picture.
El Deafo (Paperback) by Cece Bell
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.
A Wrinkle in Time: A Graphic Novel (Paperback) by Madeleine L’Engle
A graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s ground-breaking science fiction and fantasy classic, now a major motion picture.
The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O’Keefe, and the three Mrs―Who, Whatsit, and Which―the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery Award-winning classic A Wrinkle in Time.
The Witches: The Graphic Novel (Paperback) by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s darkly funny masterpiece, The Witches, now available as a graphic novel from Eisner Award-winning artist Pénélope Bagieu!
To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel (Hardcover) by Harper Lee
A haunting portrait of race and class, innocence and injustice, hypocrisy and heroism, tradition and transformation in the Deep South of the 1930s, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird remains as important today as it was upon its initial publication in 1960, during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights movement.Now, this most beloved and acclaimed novel is reborn for a new age as a gorgeous graphic novel.
Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel (Paperback) by Mariah Marsden
The magic of L.M. Montgomery’s treasured classic is reimagined in a whimsically illustrated graphic novel adaptation perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike.
Be More Chill: The Graphic Novel (Paperback) by Ned Vizzini
The groundbreaking story by New York Times best-selling author Ned Vizzini that inspired the Tony-nominated Broadway musical–now adapted in a graphic novel by #1 New York Times best-selling author David Levithan.
The Wind in the Willows: Graphic Novel (Paperback) by Kenneth Graeme
When Mole pops his head out of the ground one fine, spring morning, his friend Rat introduces him to the world of the riverbank and its most famous resident, the exuberant Mr. Toad. Mole soon finds himself caught up in Toad’s mischievous exploits, culminating in a battle for Toad Hall itself. A faithful adaptation of Kenneth Graeme’s timeless tale, complete with a map and background information. Xavier Bonet’s charming, detailed illustrations bring the story to life.