“Graphic novel” is the Library term for what is popularly called a comic book. Some graphic novels are stand-alone stories, while others are series; both kinds can be found in the over 1,800 titles of the Children’s Library’s collection.
Graphic novels help teach several important skills, such as inference through visual literacy, vocabulary-building, empathy, and tolerance. They use words and images to both show and tell complex stories with diverse, flawed characters of various ethnicities who live in different places, times, or worlds, and experience serious issues such as bullying, racism, abuse, etc.
The Storm in the Barn, by Matt Phelan, for example, tells the story of Jack Clark, a fictional boy living with his family in the very real Dust Bowl of Kansas in 1937. Jack’s world is covered with dirt, and if that weren’t bad enough, he has to deal with bullies, extreme poverty, and his little sister’s poor health. The reader can’t help but root for Jack, a spunky eleven-year-old who, like everyone else in town, just wants the drought to end. The powerful illustrations reinforce the seriousness of the material and help to increase the reader’s understanding of the story.
We invite everyone to check out a graphic novel, and tell us what you think. Ask us for a recommendation!