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The Rise of Graphic Novels for Children

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Wednesday, after our drive into town to get lunch, we headed to the book store. I noticed an interesting trend when I took my grandchildren to Barnes & Noble. The entire back wall display was entirely made up of ‘graphic novels’. These books which are written in comic book fashion are evidently the rage with young readers.

My granddaughter wanted one book in particular. I ran it by her dad and he said no, but it was more subject matter related than style of book. She was a little bummed and the book search went a little downhill after discovering she could not have the book she wanted. It is a little difficult because her reading level is much more advanced than her maturity level so book selection can be difficult.

Back to the graphic novels. These books are comic book style with pictures much like comics. They are wildly popular. As my granddaughter put it, ‘they are fun to read and not so boring.” It made me wonder if it was the storyline that was fun or if it was the reduced number of words on the page that made the books appealing.

I then took my search to Amazon – king of the book mountain. Sure enough, there is a category of children’s books – comics and graphic novels – and there are many, many books in this category. And they are extremely popular it seems.

It’s funny how book trends for children change. My soon-to-be 18-year-old grandson has never enjoyed reading. When he came to stay with us over the summers, he always veered toward the comic magazines. At the time they were rated so parents could choose what might be appropriate. We had many a disagreement about these books he wanted to buy that were not appropriate for his age. Our now-16-year-old granddaughter always read big thick books. She loved the words – the more complex the better.

The next grandchild read a lot of chapters books, but she was the first to read graphic novels. They were occasionally peppered in with other books so I did not see this as a developing trend.

I believe in reading – comics are better than no reading at all. It is too easy to squelch a child’s interest in books if not careful. I did notice that many of the classics are now reproduced as graphic novels. Books such as “Anne of Green Gables”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Black Beauty”, and “Anne Frank’s Diary” are now available as graphic novels. Is this a positive trend? Will children re-read the longer versions after having read the graphic novels?

I know images are so important in the early years of reading. Board books are vital in developing a young child’s interest in stories. I guess the psychology in what draws a child to a book has not changed and since the introduction of Manga, graphic books literally took off. According to what I read, school book fairs sell out of graphic books quickly. Libraries now have sections dedicated to children’s graphic novels.

Maybe I am old school and not wanting to change. I remember the magic of reading “Charlotte’s Web” imagining what every character looked like. I did not want the book to end. I felt the same about Nancy Drew and all her adventures. But I guess I should get on board. A search for ‘graphic novels’ on scholastic.com returns 462 books. A search on Amazon for ‘children’s graphic novels ages 9-12’ returns over 20,000 items.

I understand this new form of Young Adult literature is revitalizing the classics as well as enticing children to read more. I guess I just need to break down and buy one to see for myself. Or maybe I’ll check the library first.

What do you think? I might just be late to the party.


This post is encompassing words from the last two days of Just Jot It January hosted by Linda Hill. I am playing catch-up.

 

 

 

 

 

24 thoughts on “The Rise of Graphic Novels for Children”

  1. Goodness, I’m not familiar with graphic novels. They sound like an interesting bridge between children’s “picture” books and adult fiction, although I, like you, always enjoyed imagining characters and scenes while reading. Anything that encourages reading seems like a good thing to me, especially if the illustrations are well-done, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think proper books are better – after all, they survived all these years as classics. I’m kind-of aware of limitations with my own eyesight which put printed material out of reach these days, though. Plus I guess these days everything has ben turned into a film, which requires just a couple hours investment, but is less rewarding that a book. As you say, better that than nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I would rather see them read something. My granddaughter is so advanced with her reading, I would like to see her reading more traditional books. That may just be an old grandmother’s wish, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got very sad when my daughter wasn’t interested. I read voraciously as a youngster but I don’t think she ever read a book in er life. But try as we might, we couldn’t spark any interest.

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  3. Oh, Maggie! When I first spied my 10-year-old granddaughter reading one of those “graphic novels,” I was repulsed! “No! No! No!” I thought. My eyes were offended by the crowded, colorful boxes containing scenes and dialogue. But, alas, she loves them. Now her 7-year-old sister is reading them.

    I’m with you. As long as they’re reading age-appropriate materials, who am I to complain?

    I want to ask you, Maggie, do you recall as a child ordering paperback books of classics such as THE UGLY DUCKLING using boxtops from cereal boxes? You seem the perfect candidate. I can find no other person in my age group who remembers doing that. Oh, how I cherished those little little books illustrated with black and white pictures!

    We lived in the back of beyond in the Ozark Mountains, and almost every good thing that came to us came via U.S. Mail. So it was with these little books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie, I do not remember that specifically, maybe because we always had the bookmobile available to check out books. I do remember many, many things offered on cereal boxes though. I do remember sending in boxtops but I do not recall for what. I did find this interesting subject online which you might enjoy reading. If you could remember the cereal brand, perhaps you could contact them. Might be a fun nostalgic project. (Most of our breakfasts were cooked rather than purchased. I don not think we ate a lot of boxed cereals until much later.)

      https://www.librarything.com/topic/121061

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  4. I didn’t read a ‘graphic novel’ until I was in my late 40s. I was given one as a present, from my cousin. It was ‘V For Vendetta’, which was later made into a successful film. (As was ‘300’, ‘Sin City’, and ‘Watchmen’.)
    As a child, I read comics and books alongside each other. I knew the difference between ‘literature’ and ‘entertainment’ instinctively. I am aware that many recent comics (especially Japanese ones) contain inappropriate sexual references, and sometimes extreme violence too. In the modern electronic age, it falls to parents or carers to monitor what children read, sadly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pete, I agree, monitoring what children read is so important. I do not like censorship, but I do believe in age appropriate material. Some of our children use commonsensemedia.org to help make decisions on material they choose for their kids. Even then, some real classics are opposed by some parents which I find myself in disagreement with.

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  5. I’m glad you wrote this. I don’t know anything about graphic novels other than I see the section in the bookstores. I suppose this reflects poorly on me, but I’ve never opened one these books to peek inside. I understand your feelings about not being 100% sure about them. I had similar feelings about the rise of music videos on MTV. I felt that the imagery distracted from the relevance of the music. Watching and listening are two different skills, as are reading words and looking at pictures. Now, of course, I need to go look at one of these graphic novels. You’ve piqued my curiosity.

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  6. I think the most important thing is encouraging children to read and fostering an interest in books, even if they are graphic ones. Hopefully if they enjoy reading they will progress to ordinary books in time.

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    1. I do agree. I just hope that the love of the words is strong enough to continue their interest. I always said comic books and cereal boxes are better than no reading at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember loving both – silly comic books and in depth chapter books. Perhaps, all reading is good as long as the content is appropriate? I can’t resist the supermarket magazines – ‘Is Jen back with Brad?’ ‘Stars with no makeup’ etc. 😁

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  8. I have a graphic novel of The Count of Monte Christo. 🙂 That said, I think the trend of more and more graphic novels being sold does not bode well. I, too, like being able to imagine all the characters in my head.

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    1. I saw a graphic novel of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The illustrations are amazing. I guess it does open a market for illustrators again which is good. Maybe I am not giving our young people enough credit. Time will tell.

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  9. My brother and I loved Classic Comics as kids, which I guess were a precursor to today’s graphic novels. I also loved the funny papers as we called them. I was introduced to graphic novels when I taught at the art college. Many artists found them an ideal medium to showcase both their images and their words. I have no interest in them. My granddaughter finds them annoying. My grandson likes them a little but nearly as much as his skateboard!

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  10. I’m not a fan. I’m old school, too. Something about too many illustrations after a certain age, feels indicative of a lack of imagination. You know, let the words paint the picture…
    That being said, my eldest and my youngest children loved graphic novels. So I bought plenty, and was pleased the libraries stocked them. It may be worth noting that both of my kids did get back to old school books in preference. I had been worried because Bubba ran out of Harry Potter and moved into Manga and Moo had never enjoyed fiction until Manga. But for both of them, even though they were ten years apart, along came Rick Riordan and a return thereafter to books as we know them, and their imaginations work fine 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our grandson loved the Deltora series written by Emily Rodda. He even used it as an inspiration for a Halloween costume one year. Getting him to read was no easy feat. I was glad for the magic Emily created with her series.

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