5 Reasons For Choosing Graphic Novels

Hi everyone! Emily from The Literacy Nest (formerly The Reading Tutor/OG) and today I'm talking about graphic novels. Your kids love them, your librarian has a hard time keeping them on the shelves, but maybe you're not so sure which are the best ones for your students. Or maybe as a parent, you're wondering what merit they have. Are graphic novels just glorified comic books? Does graphic mean inappropriate for kids? I'm going to talk a little bit about what they are, their benefits, and provide some suggested lists by age/grade level.

What are graphic novels?

Let's flashback to the early 1990s. My older brother was in high school and positively glued to a book called Maus by Art Speiglemen. I picked it up and breezed through it. What was the big deal? As a teenager back then, it just looked like a thick comic book to me. I recall him passing them onto my Mom to read. They went through the whole series together and were constantly chatting about it! What was the appeal? Little did I know it then, but Maus was a groundbreaking graphic novel. Using the Holocaust and World War II as the backdrop, this GN paved the way for new an exciting plots, characters, and series. GN was not just for superheroes. (If you haven't read Maus by the way, please pick up a copy, It's amazing!)

A graphic novel is a book in novel length which can be any genre, but written and illustrated in a comic book format. They are written for both children and adults. For those kids in your class burdened by text heavy books, graphic novels may be just the format they need.

Five reasons to choose graphic novels:

  1. They appeal to both reluctant and advanced readers. The picture format and text presentation will appeal to kids who struggle with reading, or have a hard time maintaining motivation and stamina. Your advanced readers will be interested in the complex characters and rich plot development that many graphic novels have.
  2. Traditional books and series have been turned into graphic novels. Series like The Boxcar Children are in graphic novel format, but so are classics like Journey To The Center Of The Earth or The Iliad and The Odyssey.
  3. They're excellent teaching tools. Graphic novels are great for teaching inference. They often have complex vocabulary and can be used to teach literary devices.Their non linear layout offers a different flow than a traditional book without illustrations.
  4. The graphic format is helpful for English language learners and children with special needs. The use of graphics with text and rich dialogue help with language acquisition developing social skills.
  5. They're not just big comic books with superheroes. Some graphic novels do have superhero characters with superhuman powers. And those are highly appealing, especially for boys. But many aren't. They are written in many different genres with highly engaging plots and diverse characters. You almost get the sense you're reading and watching a film when you get wrapped up in a graphic novel. For some readers, that's the best of both worlds.

Resources for finding good graphic novels

Have you used graphic novels in the classroom? Do you have a favorite title to share? Please let me know in the comments. Thank you!


  1. Thanks for sharing! The librarian just asked me the other day if my oldest daughter liked graphic novels. She hasn't read any because she's busy reading the Mark Twain Nominees but I want to check out the resources provided and see if there is anything she might be interested in.

  2. If it weren't for graphic novels, my son would not have been able to read The Lightning Thief when his friends were all reading it. They are some of his favorite types of books to read! Thanks so much for sharing these great reasons to read them.

    Reading Toward the Stars