Children's Graphic Novels that Teach Powerful Lessons
It is a common misconception that graphic novels are not "real books." That misconception cannot be further from the truth. Graphic novels are full of text and provide a great many benefits to young readers! "But," you may say, "they are full of pictures, how can my older child benefit from reading this?" Not only do graphic novels contain pictures, they contain text like stated above. This adds an extra layer of context to the book that you can't find in a regular book. Not only does the reader have to decode the image but also how it relates to the text, creating the overall context of the story. This isn't as simple as it seems and children can benefit greatly from it.
Graphic novels have other positive attributes as well. For instance, due to their pictures they can be more engaging for reluctant readers thus easing their transition into reading comprehension and vocabulary building. They are also an invaluable resource for English learning students. When English isn't your first language the pictures can provide context to the words you read and, therefore, increase reading comprehension in ESL students.
Lastly, graphic novels are not all superheroes and child-like stories. Very many Graphic novels can teach powerful real-world lessons like those I will now tell you about.
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
When Stars are Scattered is a beautifully told story about an orphaned boy in a refugee camp who must take care of his non-verbal little brother, learn English, and study hard in order to make a life for the family he has left. This graphic novel not only shows diversity in culture but in those with disabilities as well. It depicts the hard life of children in refugee camps but uplifts the reader by teaching them to never give up on their dreams.
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
Stepping Stones is the perfect realistic fiction book for those struggling with moving or divorce. Jen moves to a totally new place completely different to the bustling city she called home. Now she has lots of chores to help out on the farm , which she hates, and to top it all off she has to get along with her mom's boyfriend's bratty kids. This book teaches responsibility, the joy in accomplishing something, and adapting to drastic changes in life.
Stargazing by Jen Wang
Jen Wang introduces the reader to a fresh new perspective of trying to grow up under the pressure of being the "perfect child" in an Asian household. While this book does introduce readers to a different culture and is inclusive to Asian-American readers it also focuses on making friends. Christine, our main character, struggles with making new friends and being a good friend to Moon who has a life-threatening illness. The themes of friendship, helping others, remorse, and forgiveness are common throughout.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
This graphic novel is a great representation of how Priyanka comes to terms with embracing Indian heritage while living in America. It also references the Hindu faith, Indian culture, and Women's Rights in India. The undertones of living with a single mother, being bullied in school, dealing with change, and having an absent father makes for a great heart-felt read perfect for those struggling with similar issues or those who just want to read a beautifully written realistic-fiction book with gorgeous imagery.
Ghosts by Raina Telegmeier
Cat's family is moving to a coastal town to help Cat's little sister Maya cope better with her chronic illness, cystic fibrosis. Cat must cope with losing her old friends, making new ones, and living in a town where everyone seems to be obsessed with ghosts. This graphic novel helps readers understand what it is like being the older sibling of someone suffering from a chronic illness. It also uses the Mexican culture surrounding Dia de los Muertos to tell the story of how Cat and Maya both come to terms with Maya's illness. This one is definitely a tear-jerker in the best way!