​Focus on Graphic Novels

What are graphic novels? Are they ‘real’ books? Are they good for our children? These are common questions that parents and teachers ask all the time. Many parents may be concerned that their child is choosing to read graphic novels instead of ‘proper’ books and that somehow this will slow down their learning or that it isn’t ‘real’ reading.

Well, the good news is, if your child is bringing graphic novels home to read it’s actually a good thing for readers of all ages and skill levels!

Graphic Novels are great choice for both emerging and advanced readers because:

• They look and feel approachable.

• They feel mature and cool.

• They can help with reading comprehension.

• They can give children a taste of reading success. When a reluctant reader finishes a book it’s a big deal! This can build confidence and motivate our children to keep reading.

• They can prepare children for other types of books. Less text doesn’t mean less active reading.

• They help develop visual literacy skills.

• They contain concise and efficient writing with a high incidence of rare words

• They are multimodal texts that both facilitates and supports students’ abilities to visualise and understand complicated ideas, which are also very import 21st century literacy skills.

• They are great for addressing sensitive, difficult or ‘meaty’ topics (ie. relationships, diversity, Shakespeare etc) that are often difficult for our children and teens to discuss with adults.

• Many essential literacy skills are required – the ability to understand a sequence of events, interpret characters’ nonverbal gestures, understand the plot and make inferences.

• For dyslexic readers the visual cues offer a lifeline – the cues such as illustrations that readers can explore for context clues, and the emphasis (bold, italic, large font) throughout the text allow students to understand the material without relying solely on the text.

It’s important to remember it’s not so much what our children are reading but how they read and how often they read that improves literacy, and by pushing them to read things they don’t want to can often lead them to not reading at all. So, next time your child brings home a graphic novel don’t despair but take the time to appreciate how the authors and illustrators have used the colours, textures, words, text boxes and frames to create an engaging and positive reading experience!

Mrs Sarah Bromfield - College Librarian K-10