The Alluring Power of Graphic Novels
The Alluring Power of Graphic Novels
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

Graphic novels have been criticized by both parents and educators for being an “easier” alternative to reading text-heavy, traditional material—but that’s far from the case. Visual learners, reluctant readers, and students who don’t often see themselves represented in literature find solace in graphic novels, which are engaging and relevant to today’s young learners. They help students develop deeper literacy by providing differing methods of communicating information, which allow students to begin interpreting multiple forms of media at once. Graphic novels tackle elements of text and film to help students visualize complex themes and find an appreciation for multimodal forms of storytelling.

Graphic novels are also great for combining areas of study by incorporating STEM and history lessons into an approachable medium. They can make sensitive or “boring” topics more accessible to struggling readers, and the manageable length of most graphic novels provides a sense of accomplishment in students who aren’t often able to finish books once they start them. English language learners (ELLs) and kids with reading challenges can develop stronger literacy by taking visual cues and context clues and forming them into meaningful understandings of literature. The decrease in text load can ease anxiety over reading assignments and help students build a positive relationship with books, which can make more traditional texts seem less intimidating.

Being able to see how a story is constructed with artistic elements allows students to appreciate creative and visual thinking while also finding the depth and complexity commonly seen in text-based novels. Graphic novels are also known for representing strong, dynamic female and minority characters that kids can relate to and see themselves in. There’s much more to graphic novels than fun pictures and entertainment—they provide a way for kids to develop deeper understanding, critical thinking, and visual literacy skills, all while discussing important topics and making literature more accessible.

If you’re considering adding graphic novels to your library, check out the following recommendations: