Dog Man, Dog Man, Dog Man. Children’s librarians are familiar with the name and so are parents.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey is a popular choice among youth and many come to the library in search of the series in vain. No matter how many books we order and put on the shelf, the books are quickly snagged away. By the end of the day, there are no books left, and we have to request more.
Graphic novels are a popular choice for children and tweens. However, many parents do not see them as “proper” reading material for their children. I often see parents telling their children not to pick out graphic novels or who seem wary about the graphic novel section in general.
I want to make the case for graphic novels.
The path of literacy development is different for all children. It depends on a variety of influences (domestic, economic, educational to name a few). It is a given that literacy development is a necessity for all children, and it drives librarians just as much as it drives teachers and parents. But when it comes to children who struggle with literacy, I think it starts with nurturing a love of reading.
For me, math was my Achilles heel. I struggled with understanding and learning math throughout my educational career. I was forced to undertake upper-level math based on what grade I was in and what level I should be on, which made my anxiety grow. As a result, I grew to resist and resent math.
As a librarian, that is something I want to avoid with children who are struggling with reading. I believe that if a child is more interested in graphic novels or non-fiction books, I believe those interests should be encouraged. This approach lets a child's own self-motivation drive their reading development.
Just as importantly, children need to be allowed the time to enjoy their personal favorites. No matter what they are reading, their skills will be growing at the same time, and their love for reading will grow too.
There are many reasons why graphic novels are a benefit to children’s literacy development. Click the links below to find out more!
Here is a list of graphic novels that are popular for children. Some even include graphic adaptations of classic novels such as To Kill A Mockingbird.