If you don’t have school-aged children right now, you might be unaware of the global phenomenon that is graphic novels within the world of literature. Graphic novels–full-length books that’ve been written and illustrated in comic-book form–are the newest obsession amongst kids in elementary and middle school. They’ve been somewhat disregarded as “real” fiction, which causes adults steer kids away from them, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to.
Certain kids REALLY benefit from them. In particular, kids who have a difficult time reading “traditional” novels, such as those with ADHD and reading disorders like Dyslexia, are swooping these books up faster than librarians can keep them on the shelves.
But why? Are kids only interested in them because they’re full of colorful pictures and don’t require higher-level thinking? This seems to be the concern amongst parents (and even some teachers) right now.
However, if you spend some time reading some graphic novels on your own, you might gain a better understanding of why some kids are so drawn to them.
Through the use of graphic novels, kids who might typically avoid reading altogether are finally joining the game. They’re reading slews of classic novels that have been rewritten in graphic form–such as Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, and To Kill a Mockingbird–but they’re also adding more socially relevant stories to their inventories.
Graphic novels allow kids to follow the same type of plot lines that they’d read about in typical books, but the pacing is a little faster and the visualization doesn’t need to be interpreted through written words. The reader is still learning about character development, story tension, and conclusions; they just don’t have to use quite as much concentration power to figure out what’s happening.
Is that a bad thing, though?
Students who have a difficult time reading often struggle with making their eyes concentrate on a string of words for a long period of time. Maybe their attention span wanders. Maybe they struggle with phonemic awareness and books without pictures don’t give them any other context clues. Maybe written language get tangled up inside their brain when they’re trying to process information. There are so many reasons why kids struggle with “typical” reading.
But regardless of the issue, most kids find graphic novels to be more engaging and less strenuous. Why should that bother us? Isn’t it wonderful that kids are reading at all?
Graphic novels still encourage creativity, critical thinking, and language development. They just do it in a subtler way, much like sneaking a vegetable into a smoothie.
Let’s let them read their dang smoothies and be happy for them!