Today I am going to talk about something near and dear to my heart: Why comics and graphic novels are “real literature” and good to read. Some research that I found on the subject follows:
Stephen Krashen, as presented in his book “Every Person a Reader,” discovered unrecognized influences on children who read comics. He found that not only were kids more likely to pick up comics voluntarily, but the average comic book has twice the vocabulary of the average children’s book and three times the vocabulary of a conversation between an adult and child.
One important thing to keep in mind concerning comics and graphic novels is if they are age appropriate for your child. Some comics and graphic novels are intended for older audiences and may have themes or depict images not appropriate for younger readers.
Reading comic books or graphic novels may help children:
— Develop an interest in reading
— Increase literacy of children on many different levels
— Develop language skills and a rich and varied vocabulary
— Foster an interest in a variety of literary genres (not just super heroes, but also science fiction, fantasy, drama, spoofs and humor, crime, historical fiction, action, westerns, poetry, horror, satire and so much more)
— Introduce children to many writing and reading tools such as setting, plot, character development, foreshadowing, irony, stereotyping, flashback, metaphor, symbolism, imagery, etc.
— Stimulate a creative imagination
— Develop an appreciation of art
— Develop the ability to discuss and critique art and writing
— Increase understanding of how meaning is found in visual phenomena
— Provide a useful format for examining and comparing cultural knowledge, such as social roles and conventions, power structures, formal and informal communication styles, dress, mannerisms, values and more.
Did you know that Bishop Desmond Tutu (a Noble Prize winner) said, “One of the many things I am very grateful to my father for is that, contrary to conventional education principles, he allowed me to read comics. I think that is how I developed a love for English and for reading.”
Some titles of comics and graphic novels I would recommend for young readers include “Amelia Rules,” which is about a young girl dealing with divorce and moving to a new location to live, and “Bone,” an adventure fantasy series about the Bone cousins Phoney Bone, Smiley Bone and Fone Bone. Both are great for children ages 8 and older.
Some good for children as young as 6 years old include “Baby mouse,” “Owly,” and “Tiny Titans.”
As for my favorite, the super hero genre, Marvel Comics has the Marvel Adventure Series for younger readers staring such favorites as “Spider-Man,” “The Avengers,” “Thor,” “The Hulk” and more. DC has “Tiny Titans” and “The Brave and The Bold” teaming Batman up with such legendary characters as Superman, Green Arrow, The Flash, Green Lantern and more.
So in closing, reading comics and graphic novels is far from being bad for children. The research says it all and it says that it’s great.
— Bill Corder is the Youth Services Librarian at the Robeson County Public Library.