Why Graphic Novels Can Be a Great Option for Kids

Many children seem to only want to read graphic novels or comic books, and some caregivers might be worried that they aren’t reading “a real book”, or reading anything challenging. Turns out that research indicates that graphic novels and comics can teach children many skills, and develop a love of reading.

One skill graphic novels and comics can develop is a broad vocabulary. Did you know that comic books have on average more rare words per thousand than adult books? That’s right, on average, children can learn more complex vocabulary from comic books or graphic novels than if they were reading an adult novel.

For example, Calvin of “Calvin and Hobbes” fame has a remarkable vocabulary:

Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Hobbes and Calvin are standing next to a snowman Calvin is creating. Hobbes says "Still making snow art?" Calvin replies "Yep". Hobbes says: "Yesterday your sculpture melted". Calvin replies: "This time I'm taking advantage of my mediums impermanence. This sculpture is about intransience. As this figure melts, it invites the viewer to contemplate the evanescence of life. This piece speaks to the horror of our own mortality!"

Watterson, Bill “Calvin and Hobbes” Originally published February 2nd, 1990

One study has shown that children “who reported more comic book reading also reported more pleasure reading in general, greater reading enjoyment, and tended to do more book reading.”One conclusion that this study suggests is that “comic book reading certainly does not inhibit other kinds of reading and is consistent with the hypothesis that comic book reading facilitates heavier reading.” In other words, even if some children primarily read graphic novels and comic books, they are still developing skills and vocabulary that will facilitate academic reading.

With that in mind, why not try reading some graphic novels with your children? Popular titles include:

Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

This graphic novel memoir follows Raina after she’s awoken in the night by a horrible stomach ache. “It’s probably just a stomach bug.” Her mom says, and send her off to a new school year. But her upset stomach also seems to coincide with her worries about changes in her life, including friends, food, and school.



Dog Man by Dav Pilkey.

Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame is back at it again with his part man, part dog, super detective hero. If he can just learn to stay off the chief of police’s couch, he will always save the day!

Posted in General, Kids.

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