Why Your Kid Should Read Graphic Novels
I’m writing this as summer is coming to a close and school is ramping back up. For many of us, this means earlier mornings, stricter schedules, and lots more books to read. So, it’s not all bad. I’ll never argue with more books.
One type of book gaining more popularity is the graphic novel. Perhaps you are a parent who is wondering whether you ought to let your kids read graphic novels. I’d like to introduce you to a good one: Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, and then I’d like to present a case for graphic novels.
Real Friends: Shannon didn’t know that when she started school she was also starting a hunt of sorts. Up until that time, her mom had been her best friend, but now, entering the world of school she found she needed more. She needed to hunt for a friend, a real friend, not one who changed with the flip of a calendar page. This hunt brings her into and out of several friendships until she finds the secret. **Spoiler alert** She discovers that the best type of popularity is the type that is kind to everyone, not just the “cool kids.”
Real Friends presents a realistic look at developing friendships, navigating some of the most awkward childhood years, and troubleshooting difficult family situations. With engaging pictures, and believable scenarios this graphic novel tells a true story of being a middle school girl (I imagine boys would have similar experiences.) Except for the caveats mentioned below, I give this book two thumbs up. Great for girls aged 9-13 and perhaps boys too.
Caveat: The relationship between Shannon and her sister is, well, complicated. There are a few instances of the sister hitting Shannon. Mostly these episodes can be chalked up to sibling rivalry and the difficulties of figuring out adolescence, but I felt they should be mentioned as others may have a stronger reaction to these scenes.
Now for my case for graphic novels. I said graphic novels are gaining in popularity, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say “graphic novels are gaining in popularity again.” However, the novels of today are markedly different from the ones that I remember from my youth. The ones I remember were either glorified comic books (nothing wrong with comic books, but that’s another argument…) or filled with adult content. *blushes*
The graphic novels in the children’s section of today’s bookstores are sophisticated stories that speak to issues kids face every day.
However, the main reason I recommend graphic novels is to aid struggling readers. It’s no secret that many of our young people struggle to read, and often struggle to enjoy reading.
Enter the graphic novel.
By the time a child reaches third or fourth grade, they feel too old for picture books (Who’s too old for picture books?! I regularly check them out for myself!! Case in point: The Dark. But, I digress. Nine and ten year-olds don’t want to ruin their street cred by reading “baby books.”), but some of these precious young people are still learning to read. The pictures accompanying the text of these books make even difficult words easier to understand, and the pictures keep the reader engaged in the story. Graphic novels provide a great bridge to longer and more complex books. They also provide a good break from books typically assigned to be read by that age group.
Plus, graphic novels can be just plain fun.