Graphic novels get young readers off to a strong start
New California Congressman Robert Garcia brought more than his family to his recent swearing-in ceremony: he also brought a comic book. “I learned to read and write English [by] reading comics as a kid. Never stopped reading,” Garcia said.1
Congressman Garcia isn’t alone in learning to read with comics. Many of us were nurtured on the laps of our parents and grandparents, reading comic strips in newspapers or comic books.
While comics remain popular, graphic novels have also gained traction. Children learning a new language or struggling readers may be reluctant to pick up a traditional book. The format of graphic novels has a lot to offer these readers.
The benefits of Graphic Novels
- Bite-sized pieces of text: For children learning to read, mastering small chunks of text builds confidence. Graphic novels are a great way to help struggling readers strengthen vocabulary, build reading confidence and stamina, and develop a deeper appreciation of storytelling.2
- Vivid imagery and visual literacy: Research shows that text and images go hand-in-hand in graphic novels.3 Images encourage the reader to look closely while offering clues about the characters and the plot.
- Sequential action: Graphic novels for young readers often feature easy-to-follow plots.
But perhaps the greatest selling point of graphic novels is their popularity, particularly in drawing in reluctant readers. Alonzo Fuller, marketing specialist with Andrews McMeel Universal, notes that graphic novels have a lot to contribute in a classroom setting. Andrews McMeel Universal, a Kansas City company and Lead to Read KC partner, publishes several popular graphic novels such as Big Nate and Phoebe and Her Unicorn, and has generously donated these titles and more to our program.
Other book publishers also took note of the popularity and the graphic novel market expanded to include readers as young as four years old.4 The young reader graphic novels follow the same combination of vivid imagery and bite-sized text chunks, but the words are often easily decodable.
For beginning readers, the mix of appealing visuals and limited text can be motivating. Motivation is the key to keeping them reading and moving on to more sophisticated novels that grapple with complex ideas featuring strong characters, vocabulary and storylines.
Help us keep young readers motivated
You can help build Lead to Read KC’s collection of graphic novels and build the reading confidence of our young readers. Visit our Amazon Wish List to learn more.