Reading Is Reading
Between AR (Accelerated Reader) goals and assigned reading, it can be hard to convince kids that reading can be done simply for pleasure. Every book, even fiction, has to be evaluated: Is it within my reading level? Is it worth enough points? Can I finish it before my deadline? All of this adds up to reading becoming a chore. This can be even more frustrating when you mix in learning/reading difficulties.
The truth is that getting teenagers to love reading starts well before they become teens, however, there are some ways to coax reluctant readers into sitting down with a book, including adding graphic novels to their options. Although it may seem like a waste of time, graphic novels actually offer some great benefits to adolescent readers. Less text means less time trying to slog through a lengthy book. Having images to support the text can be especially helpful for those struggling with reading comprehension. Graphic novels also allow teens to read within their comfort zone without resorting to childish “early reader” chapter books or picture books. Graphic novels may have a lot of pictures, but the story content and vocabulary are usually age appropriate.
Parents can look at graphic novels as a stepping stone to full text books, or they can simply be happy that their kids are reading. The skills that we want teens to exercise when reading can be developed while reading anything, magazines, codex entries in a video game, blog posts, and yes, graphic novels. Although we want to challenge them and grow their vocabulary by encouraging them to read longer, more complex books, rest assured that is already happening in their classrooms. Allowing teens to use their own criteria (length of book, subject, text or graphic) when selecting books can go a long way toward relieving some of their reluctance toward reading.
If you need a place to start, here are some graphic novels our libraries have to offer:
Lego Ninjago: Dark Island Trilogy by Greg Farshtey: The easy to understand, first book will hook ‘em and keep ‘em coming back for the other two.
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya: This manga series also has an anime of the same name making it great for reading and watching to compare and contrast. This is a warm and fuzzy series with strong themes of friendship.
The Good Neighbors by Holly Black: This is a series for kids who used to love the Spiderwick Chronicles. Some darker themes are present, making this more appropriate for older teens.