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Are graphic novels the same as reading regular books?

Is letting my child read graphic novels the same as letting him read regular books?

The answer is both yes and no. Yes, your child will be reading text in both types of books. Graphic novels are much the same traditional books in that the complexity of the text, storytelling, and content vary widely. Graphic novels can be easy to read fluff, complex stories with deep meaning, memoir, or even straight up nonfiction.

The “no” part of the answer is because graphic novels actually require an additional set of skills that traditional books do not. Many graphic novels require a level of visual literacy to understand the full intent of the work. Visual literacy is the set of skills needed to infer meaning from imagery. For example, a title may feature a teen at a party. The printed text would let us in on the teen’s conversations with others and/or their inner monologue. The visual literacy part shows up when we follow the facial expressions of the others at the party through the illustrations, see what is going on in the background, and anticipate the horrible prank that is about to occur to our ignorant but ill-fated teen protagonist. Graphic novels generally require their readers use their imaginations to fill in the gaps of action between frames and to look for hidden meanings and subtext which are critical literacy skills to develop.

The great thing about graphic novels which makes them so appealing to all ages is that they don’t feel like extra work to read. Even something as heavy and dense as the 9/11 Report (https://egcatalog.larl.org/eg/opac/record/73126?locg=1) can be made more digestible by turning it into a graphic novel. Is there a classic work of fiction you’ve always mean to read, but just couldn’t make it through? Many of these canonized works of literature have been made into full text graphic novel adaptations. Reluctant readers of any age may be drawn in by this alternative format.

Head here (https://egcatalog.larl.org) to our catalog and do a subject search for graphic novel. There are tons available and we’d be happy to help you choose great titles for your child (or yourself) to enjoy.

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