When Kids Will Only Read Graphic Novels

Sound familiar? A child will no longer read anything except graphic novels. Should we care? Is reading considered reading, no matter what? We sat down with Momentous School Librarian, Stevie Lemons, to discuss.

By Momentous Institute | Aug 01, 2022
Graphic Novels

Many parents are familiar with this struggle. A child reaches a certain age, and he or she will no longer read anything except graphic novels. Should we care? Is reading considered reading, no matter what? We sat down with Momentous School Librarian, Stevie Lemons, to discuss.

What do you think about graphic novels as a genre?

I love graphic novels, and I have a very positive outlook towards them. Unlike some people, I don’t see them as a waste of time or energy. I actually serve on the committee for the Texas Library Association that evaluates graphic novels specifically to select the best of the best for each year’s list. I read at least one graphic novel a day for this role.

Do you think it matters if kids only want to read graphic novels and won’t try anything else? Or is any kind of reading good enough?

Again, graphic novels are wonderful and provide a very valuable aspect to reading for so many children. However, different books require us to use different parts of the brain, and graphic novels activate just one part. Reading traditional novels requires a different set of skills that I think are also important to activate.

Also, I think for children, it is far too soon to narrow your focus in on just one thing. There’s a whole world of books available to kids and focusing only on graphic novels eliminates so many options that kids don’t even know exist.

Can you elaborate a bit more? What do kids miss out on if they stick to just one type of book?

I love being a librarian because you can show kids books that they didn’t even think anyone would ever make a book about. I have kids who can’t believe there are books about ghosts, gemstones, fast cars, and optical illusions – things they love that they didn’t know could be found in books. Like with everything, we only know what we know, so the more we can open kids’ eyes to the big, wide world of books, the better. Graphic novels are such a small slice of children’s literature, and it would be a shame to miss out on everything else that amazing authors are creating.

What can parents or caregivers do to help kids diversify their interests beyond graphic novels?

I’ve used the metaphor in the past of thinking of books like a meal. The graphic novel or other lighthearted, fun books are like dessert. They're enjoyable! But for a well-balanced diet, we need a meal, too. And for a well-balanced reading experience, we need some other types of books, like novels or nonfiction. Now the downside to this metaphor is we don’t want kids to think of non-graphic novels like having to eat their vegetables, like it’s something they don’t want to do but are being forced to do… so I’m still playing with the metaphor. But I like the idea of saying that for every graphic novel, a kid also has to check out one book from another category to create a well-balanced reading experience.

And if a kid struggles to find anything else they want to read besides graphic novels…?

Tap into their interests! Entice them with something they love – a book about robots, animals, superheroes, adventure, friendship, magic, faraway places, nature… whatever they show interest in, there’s a book about it. So do some digging or ask a librarian for recommendations and I’m sure eventually you’ll find at least something the child gets excited about. 

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