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Beyond Words: The Power of Graphic Novels in Literary Discovery

While some people believe the myth that graphic novels don’t count as “real reading,” they might actually be one of the best ways to help young people fall in love with literature.


Graphic novels were first introduced to libraries in the 1930s and were initially stigmatized as “lesser literature” because they contained less text than other age-appropriate books. However, teachers and literacy experts are quick to remind us that graphic novels will most definitely improve a child’s reading skills. In fact, the rich plots, complex storylines, and captivating visual elements of graphic novels offer a unique appeal to a range of readers, stoking their excitement to come back to books again and again.


According to the 7th edition of the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 89 percent of kids agree that their favorite books are the ones they picked out themselves. Instead of discounting graphic novels at less than, we should celebrate the benefit they offer and encourage readers to explore a variety of genres. Just because a book contains a greater ratio of pictures to words does not make it any less of a book.


After all, if the best way to fall in love with reading is to start reading something you love, then the modern genre of graphic novels might be one of the best places to overcome one’s fear or dislike for reading.


For young people who might have trouble understanding certain words, the images in graphic novels are helpful towards deciphering the meaning of the words on the page. Furthermore, the visual nature of graphic novels offers more for brain development, reading retention, and creativity than a “typical” book. The illustrations allow young people to engage the material in a new way, sparking their creativity and imagination, growing their confidence in reading, creating a concrete example of the stories and ideas they are reading, and allowing them to deepen their connection to the content on every page.


Additionally, graphic novels serve as bridges between different forms of media, making them particularly appealing in today's digital age. With adaptations into movies, television series, and video games, graphic novels offer readers a gateway to explore diverse storytelling mediums. This multimedia approach not only broadens readers' horizons but also encourages critical thinking and media literacy skills. By engaging with graphic novels, readers develop an appreciation for narrative complexity and visual storytelling techniques, preparing them to navigate an increasingly interconnected world of literature and entertainment.


So the next time you’re at the library or your favorite book store, slow down as you pass the graphic novels and take a look. Encourage young people to explore this section with you! If you’re unsure where to begin, ask a librarian for help. Perhaps you’ll find yourself falling more and more in love with reading, one graphic novel at a time.


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