By Rachel Benedict | Categories All | Choices | critical thinking | Curriculum | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Family | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Parents | Reading | Reading instruction | Social Emotional Learning | Summer Reading | December 11, 2020

As your fairly typical “boy mom”, I can tell you I’ve seen just about every kind of graphic novel for kids. Long before my son discovered Marvel and DC superheroes, he found Captain Underpants, The Adventures of Dogman, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, to name a few. Perhaps at first glance, graphic novels or comic books can appear silly, without substance, or unlikely to help your child read.

Those preconceptions couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t make the mistake of thinking graphic novels aren’t “real books”. Graphic novels can be the picture book for the middle generation of reader – the platform between easy beginner picture books and long chapter books. If your kids are anything like mine, silliness and goofiness are one surefire way to get and hold their attention. This is one of the most important stages in encouraging reluctant or emerging readers. Let them choose, watch the graphic novel grab their attention, and watch their imaginations soar to new heights!

Graphic novels are an excellent way to inspire your child to get excited about reading. The flow of the graphical storytelling, the fun and quirky characters, and the use of onomatopoeia are sure to form a lasting – KAPOW! – impression on your child’s imagination. If your child struggles with following a printed storyline, the pictures and flow of a graphic novel can help bring the story to life right before his or her eyes.

Graphic novels also help develop analytical readers. Your child will focus on the visual storytelling, looking for graphical plot clues, scenery insight, or to interpret character behavior and body language. Your child may not realize it, but graphic novels get the brain’s neurons firing – ZAP! – forming new creative and analytical pathways to decode the story. Decoding and processing the story through words and visual clues enable children to start thinking abstractly about their reading material.

Graphic novels can also inspire kids to create their own stories through drawing. Use this as an opportunity to encourage your child to recreate his or her own fantastical graphic world where protagonists can wear their underpants on the outside, be empowered by a radioactive spider, or even be a reflection of your child’s inner superhero. Allow your child to imagine a world where anything is possible!

Kids Read Now is proud to offer several graphic novels each year on our Wish List. We want kids to get excited to read, not just because they think the book is cool, but because we’re helping build their superhuman brain power – BOOM! If you have any questions about the Kids Read Now in-home reading programs, please contact us.

By Rachel Benedict

Rachel has always been a reader – in fact, her first job was in a library! Growing up surrounded by books ignited her passion for literacy and her history volunteering with Special Olympics Indiana and local community organizations solidified her need to improve communities, especially for kids. She graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with her bachelor’s in Homeland Security and Emergency Management in 2014, and her Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Community Development in 2017. She joined the Kids Read Now team in 2018 and manages our social media, Latest in Literacy blog, and helps involve communities in their schools’ reading initiatives. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, tending to her garden, chilling with her chickens, working out, playing piano, coaching baseball, and reading.


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