Creating Space for Graphic Novels

Graphic Novel Makes History
Posted on 02/15/2020
Graphic Novel ImageWhat a great time for children’s literature! For the first time ever a graphic novel has received The John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children - author and illustrator Jerry Craft’s “New Kid” has made history. For decades, the graphic novel genre has been unfairly labelled as lesser literature — considered as a longer comic strip, or simply for readers with a short attention span. As innovative authors continue to prove, however, this is simply not the case.

One of the best aspects of my job is helping children discover a favorite book - a book they’re excited to read and that is based on their interests. Unfortunately, I also encounter parent’s whose own interests do not align with their child’s and are dismissive of their child’s choice to read graphic novels, or parents who tell their child that graphic novels are “not real books.”

All good literature shares similar characteristics. Compelling stories revolve around strong, well depicted characters. They are emotionally evocative, have the capacity to expand vocabulary, and explore complex themes. Graphic novels like “New Kid”, a story of an inner-city youth with dreams of going to art school, accomplish all of this in addition to, not in spite of, utilizing a visual medium.

The graphic novel format can actually help enhance engagement with the text, not detract from it, especially for visual learners or reluctant readers. The ability to visually represent the inner dialogue of the protagonist through the use of both text formatting and visual cues provides an instant intimacy into the perspective of the main characters. The reader is forced to engage with the text in order to understand the colorful, vibrant images on the page. Graphic novels keep your reader reading.

As graphic novels have grown in popularity in recent years there has also been an uptick in the number of them published, especially ones for children and young adults. In order to make our graphic novels more accessible at Neill Public Library we have created a Juvenile Graphic Novel collection. This collection is next to our Juvenile Non-fiction section and designated with a bright red, graphic sticker. In addition, we moved our Young Adult Graphic Novel collection from behind the circulation desk and onto the floor. We are so excited for our patrons to be able to freely browse our graphic novels!

Our new graphic novel sections are an exciting place for kids (and parents!) of all ages and reading levels. Come explore this wonderful genre in their new locations at Neill Public Library! And if you may find yourself with a bias, perhaps the best way to overcome it is to check out an award winning graphic novel for yourself.