The Rise of Graphic Novels for Children

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 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.