Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don’t Call Them “Comic Books” – Graphic Novels Mean Business!

Anyone who has watched their formerly book-avoidant child devour Diary of a Wimpy Kid understands the power of imagery to make reading palatable for children. Graphic novels take this concept a step further. Though they may look like comic books, good graphic novels feature plot lines, character development, and themes every bit as sophisticated (and often more so) than the ones found in standard novels. The genre is gaining both popularity and recognition; Maus won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and American Born Chinese was awarded the prestigious Michael L. Printz Prize for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2007.

Many parents and some educators are wary of graphic novels, but they can be fantastic tools for struggling readers of all ages. The print is minimal and is supported by images to help the reader self-monitor his/her reading and therefore practice recognizing the right words. The images also help the reader to follow the plot, providing critical practice comprehending themes and events which can be quite complex.

If you’re new to graphic novels, investigate some of the fantastic offerings below:

For Elementary School Readers

For Middle School Readers

For Developing High School Readers
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • the Malice series by Chris Wooding
  • the Good Neighbors series by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

For Mature Readers 
(Many of these novels for mature readers have been made into movies; viewing them before reading will further boost comprehension.)

In addition, The Great Illustrated Classics series has over 70 titles to choose from which students may find to be useful accompaniments to challenging, grade-level material at school. Although these books are not true graphic novels, they present condensed, simplified versions of books like The Picture of Dorian Gray and Moby Dick accompanied by illustrations to support comprehension. Struggling readers could try reading the Great Illustrated Classics series' version of a chapter before reading the original chapter in the school book.

For an article further explaining the benefits of reading graphic novels, as well as additional suggestions, visit the Scholastic website. Truly fascinated graphic novel fans or budding artists should check out Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics for a look at how sophisticated this art form can be.

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