What’s So Great About Graphic Novels?

July is Graphic Novels in Libraries Month! Started by Booklist, a publication from the American Library Association, July is a great month to celebrate all things graphic novels. You might be thinking, why should we celebrate graphic novels? A common misconception is that we should be getting kids to read “real” novels. After all, graphic novels are told in mostly pictures. How can they possibly be futhering kids' reading skills?

Generally, graphic novels get a lot of negative attention for being not as complex as reading a full length novel. This is partly because graphic novels came from comic books, which historically have been stereotyped as "just for children." Meaning that people think they're too simple and maybe not as engaging as other books. However, this couldn't be further from the truth! Graphic novels offer a lot of great benefits to readers of all kinds.

Research from Northwestern University has shown that when children read graphic novels with an analytical lens, “depth and complexity are added to the reading process.” This is because when kids are reading graphic novels, they are forced to make inferences from the images they're reading. Just like text, images can be interpretted in a number of different ways, and it's up to the reader to make these inferences and connections when they are reading graphic novels.

The Benefits of Reading Graphic Novels

So what exactly are the benefits of reading graphic novels? Graphic novels benefit kids because they:

  • Are fast paced and are better at keeping the attention of reluctant readers.
  • Help to build vocabulary. Fewer words means that the words that are on the page are chosen carefully!
  • Show readers how the text can interact with the images.
  • Develop reading skills like inferencing and explaining figurative language.
  • Aid kids with learning differences. Graphic novels are great for kids with dyslexia because they won’t become overwhelmed with words on the page.
  • Can even reinforce harder to read texts, since a lot of classics are getting their own graphic novel adaptations!

And you’re in luck! In the last few years, graphic novel publication for kids and teens has grown exponentially. If you’re looking for something new to read, check out some of these recommendation lists!

Graphic Novels for Early Readers

Graphic Novels for Kids

Graphic Novels for Teens