Now, he DEVOURS books. Sometimes, two books in a day! I actually caught him reading by flashlight (actually, it was a Darth Vader keychain light). I couldn't be happier, because he's in love. He's in love with books! And THAT is the very best thing in the world, for any child.
However, some people question what he's reading.
According to his teacher, "he also needs to read books that are 'just right' for his reading level."
According to a neighbor, after a while "he'll start reading real books."
Real books? Just right levels? Give me a break! Look, as a kid, I read books that my parents wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole. Books like Vanity Fair, and Pride & Prejudice, and Wuthering Heights. I purposefully skipped books with pictures, because I wanted MORE WORDS.
But the thing is, so does my son.
He wants books that open him up to new worlds, and allow him to read at the pace he's comfortable comprehending. He wants to stimulate both sides of his mind at the same time. He wants to fill in the blanks between dialogue, and intuitively digest the narrative. He's not just reading graphic novels, he's reading BOOKS. Graphic novels offer the same benefits as regular books. They introduce readers to new vocabulary, the language of books, and information that teaches them about their world and sparks their imagination.
In fact, there are now a lot of books on the subject of graphic novels that advocate these ideas. Stephen Weiner reports that “researchers concluded that the average graphic novel introduced readers to twice as many words as the average children’s book” and Francisca Goldsmith points out that “the kind of abstraction that competent and comfortable text reading requires is also demanded by the graphic novel.”
So there you have it. Graphic novels are books, too. They're just different.
Fiction and non-fiction graphic novels can bring another perspective to reading, perhaps one that your child will appreciate as much as mine. I leave you with some of our favorite graphic novels from the past year. If you have other reading suggestions, please add them to the comments below!
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson
A wonderful, modern interpretation of a timeless classic. The illustrations are crisp and bold, with simple blue tones added to black line art, which creates a wonderful, eerie tone that matches the story perfectly.
Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
A simple and classic story with an easy pace and gorgeous illustrations that propel you through the pages. This is the first in a series of five (soon to be SIX!) books that your child will devour in days.
Rosa Parks And The Montgomery Bus Boycott by Connie Colwell Miller
My son brought this home in February and has been referencing Rosa Parks ever since. The graphic novel format made the subject more accessible and immediate for him, and brings her incredibly brave story to life.