Books in Different Formats

I am biased about books in different formats because I am a big fan of graphic novels. I think that there is a value to reading graphic novels and having children read them. Often, it is my reluctant readers who want to read graphic novels. I know people assume that they are “easier” to read then a “real” book because of the reading level. There is a hidden value to reading them. I went to a training a year ago that discussed ways to help students increase their vocabulary. The presenter shows us different places students can learn new vocabulary. One of the top places was graphic novels. It makes sense because graphic novels combine words and images. The writer does not have a lot of space to use words so they have to choose words that are going to best express what is happening in the story. A graphic novel might have a second grade reading level but it might not use a second grade vocabulary.

“Smile” is a good example of a graphic novel that appeals to different ages and genders. Even through it is a story about a girl, it expresses many of the feelings that tweens experience. It uses words but also the images to tell the story. Sometimes the images can tell the story without words. There are a number of graphic novels where I remember the images because of how striking they are. I think people assume because it is a “comic” the story is not going to be as well-developed as a novel. I think they assume that graphic novels are shallow and childish. I do not think that is true. It is just a different format of telling a story.

Reading graphic novels can be challenging. There is a skill to reading them. I have noticed that most students are not ready to read graphic novels until about 3rd grade. A reader has to learn how to read the page layout and figure out what box to start reading. In many graphic novels, the layout of the text boxes may be different from page to page. They have to learn how to read the dialogue between characters. They have to figure out what is dialogue or thoughts. They have to study the image and the expression of the characters in the story. They have to combine the text and image in their heads.


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