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What’s the deal with Graphic Novels?

This blog post is for the graphic novel novice. If you’ve ever wondered what all the graphic novel fuss is about read on and you might find your child’s (or maybe your own!) new favorite book.

GN 101

What is a graphic novel?

The heading “graphic novel” (GN) refers to printed works which are presented in a comic book format.   Like any format, GNs cover a wide range of topics from humorous talking animals to first hand historical accounts and everything in-between.

Here’s a peek into 3 graphic novels with widely varying topics and styles.

March: Book One, by John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew Aydin.

March book one

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita the Spacegirl

Stinky by Eleanor Davis


What ages are GN’s appropriate for?

There are GN’s written for just about every age, covering a huge range of subject matter. At the Lawrence Public Library, we have three GN sections based on age (J GN for juvenile, YA GN for young adult, and GN for adults).

If you are unsure about finding an age appropriate GN don’t hesitate to ask an LPL children’s librarian. Or better yet, let your child be the guide!  Even if they choose something above their level they will enjoy the experience of picking their own books.

Aren’t GN’s somehow inferior to “real” books?

The opinion that the comic strip format is not a legitimate form of literature has been around since the comic-book itself. The idea has lost steam in the last twenty years with the rapid acceptance of GN’s in libraries and schools around the world.

While not all GNs are created equal, some of the most interesting, emotionally challenging, and creative books to be published in recent years have been in the GN format.

Here’s a link to some great GN titles for kids.

Can GNs help kids become better readers?

“The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

                                                                                        -Neil Gaiman

One of the great things graphic novels offer young readers is high-interest subject matter. Star Wars, Marvel Super Heroes, Pokémon, and a host of other kid-favorite titles are available in graphic novel format.  Struggling readers often have difficulty becoming “immersed” in the story they are trying to read. Familiar characters and eye-catching art work can help young readers feel a part of the story and begin to understand the loveliness of getting “lost” in a book.  Remember, any positive experience with a book is a step towards becoming a lifelong reader.

Alright, you are all set to read your first graphic novel! Don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation from one of our friendly reference librarians.

Good luck and good reading!


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