If you have a child between the ages of 5-15, you probably know how popular graphic novels are right now. Middle schoolers are swimming in Dog Man, Raina Telgemeier, Big Nate, and more. Here in the library we are big fans of graphic novels as well. When your job is to foster a love of reading, it’s hard not to! Our first meeting of our new monthly Graphic Novel Club was last week and we had a full house of 8-12 year olds thrilled to talk about all kinds of graphic novels they love.
We aren't the only ones excited about graphic novels. On Monday the winner of the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children was announced. For the first time in the award’s 98 year history, the winner was a graphic novel. New Kid by Jerry Craft is also a current nominee for New Hampshire’s very own Great Stone Face Award, and 4th, 5th, and 6th graders throughout the state will soon be voting on whether to honor the book here at home as well. Keep an eye out for voting to begin in the Children's Room in April!
Graphic novels can be hugely beneficial to readers of all ages. Aside from the obvious appeal that keeps books in the hands of kids, graphic novels have a proven track record to boost reading skills. According to ‘Big Ideas in the Beginning of Reading: Vocabulary” from the University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning, graphic novels have an average of 53.5 rare words per thousand. Children’s books average 30.9 rare words per thousand and adult books average 52.7. The advantage of encountering a rare word in a graphic novel is that readers get printed and visual context clues to help develop understanding of the word. That visual context also helps to propel a reader through the story – kids who might shy away from 100 page chapter book will tear through a 200 page graphic novel and then ask for more.
If you’d like to learn more, the Concodia University- Portland blog has information about the benefits of graphic novels to readers here: https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/graphic-novels-visual-literacy/
Stop in and check out our graphic novel sections in the Children’s Room to find stories, memoirs, and non-fiction all in graphic novel format. Feel free to ask for a recommendation at the desk, and as always, happy reading!