Do Graphic Novels Improve Children’s Literacy?

The graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft was awarded the 2020 Newbery Medal by the American Library Association, becoming the first graphic novel to receive this award. It shares the honour with well-known chapter books such as The Giver, Holes and Bridge to Terabithia. Children’s graphic novels are being taken seriously more than ever before—but what benefits do they have for growing readers?

Many graphic novels involve a combination of text and images, and the reader must understand both to make sense of the story. When readers process this information, they are making inferences, or “reading between the lines”—an important reading comprehension skill. Amy Mascott, co-author of Raising a Rock Star Reader, explains that “[w]ith graphic novels, kids still must follow plots and character development. They must understand cause and effect, and they must learn about perspective. All of these things will improve their reading comprehension. ”

Children’s graphic novels have many other benefits: 

  • Graphic novels are a popular choice for both reluctant and advanced readers. Images pull readers in, move the story along and make the text less intimidating. Readers who are visual learners will also appreciate the artwork. 
  • Research has shown that “we process text and images in different areas of the brain [...]. These experiments also indicate that pairing an image with text leads to increased memory retention for both. With comics, students not only learn the material faster, they learn it better."
  • Graphic novels help kids visualize narratives and become literate in more than one type of media. Kids can view storytelling as a creative endeavour that extends beyond the written word and may be inspired to draw their own stories. Graphic novels are fun and quick to read, and they provide a new way of experiencing a story. While it’s important to suggest books and expand your child’s reading interests, also allow them to choose books independently so they can learn which stories appeal to them. 

There are graphic novels available in every genre. This includes nonfiction (science, history, biography), fantasy, humour and action-packed adventures! Check out some of our top picks!

Graphic Novels

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Check out some of the latest graphic novels for kids of all ages! Whether you're looking for something funny, fantastical, relatable, or heartwarming, there's a graphic novel for you!

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