Graphic Novels and Kids

So I work as a tutor and in a toy store, and I take a class about children’s literature. I also consider myself to be pretty well versed on children’s literature because although my reading level is high, children’s books are far more fun than many books intended for adults. It’s a shame, because children should want to read, and taking the fun out of stories is one of the reasons young adults start to dislike reading.

It sucks, but some kids don’t like reading from the start even. I’ve had a couple people see me at the tutoring center reading a comic book who ask me, “Are these okay for kids to read?” Well, I’m reading Deadpool, so no. But comics? Yes. A lot of people worry that kids will prefer the pictures to the words and not want to transition to “real” books. That may be the case for some, but it’s very common to get children and young adults interested in reading by giving them a poignant graphic novel or comic book. I went to a local library and picked up two graphic novels from their “Young Adults” section.

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The first graphic novel I was drawn to is called The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci and illustrated by Nate Powell. The cover is very interesting, and I opened to a random page to see mythical creatures in a high school setting. When I went home to read it, I was surprised to find that it’s half graphic novel, half novel. Similarly to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the book goes back and forth between two stories; that of a “normal” girl, and that of Medusa. I found it to be a fantastic representation of high school from both sides, and the ending took me by surprise. It’s a beautiful book, and if your local library carries it, pick it up. I’m sure you can relate to it. With books about high school intended for young adults, relation is important. Sure, I don’t know what it’s like to have snakes growing out of my head instead of curls or what it’s like to turn people to stone on accident, but I know the hell that high school can be. I thought this book was really good for teens because it’s an easy read, which gives the feeling of mastery, and also isn’t “just a comic book.” It has paragraph form writing in it, which is perfect for the parents that worry about their kids only reading comics forever.

The other book I picked up is a historical fiction graphic novel called American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. This novel follows the stories of three characters; a monkey king, Jin Wang (a transfer student from China Town in San Francisco), and Chin-Kee (an example of how stereotypes show the Chinese). The entire novel is in comic form, and fully colored, which is really nice. There are a couple of old Chinese stories throughout, and the story of the monkey king is lore. So readers are learning about the culture while relating to the high school experiences of characters. At the very end, the stories come together in a very surprising way.

I really enjoyed both of these novels because they were very relatable, and that is so important in literature, especially in that intended for young adults. Books like the two of these would be very good for getting teens more interested in reading, which is so important.


All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

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