Read Comics in Public Day was on August 28th. I love these fun national days because it presents an opportunity to highlight interesting topics in my classroom library! By incorporating comic books and graphic novels, you are not only expanding your students’ reading options but also providing them with a gateway to a whole new world of imagination and creativity. So, why wait? Unlock the potential of your classroom library with the power of comic books and graphic novels today.
We enjoyed Read Comics in Public Day so much! I hope reading in public becomes as commonplace as being on our phones. I have had so many students who would love to read comic books and graphic novels in public or anywhere for that matter, as well as our classroom library. My son would definitely do so as well. Most days, when he reads independently, he chooses a comic book or graphic novel.
When I was first teaching, I was wary of my students reading comic books and graphic novels. It didn’t seem as challenging as a novel because of the fewer words and the reliance on pictures. Nevertheless, through further education and a surgence of graphic novels such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I have learned to love, embrace, and encourage reading comic books and graphic novels! If you are on the fence, here are some reasons why you should promote comic books and graphic novels in your classroom library.
Difference between a Comic Book and Graphic Novel
First of all, a question you may have is what is the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel? A comic book tells a story in a sequence in strips that represent different scenes. We have all probably grown up on comic books and have a good idea as to what they are, but what is a graphic novel?
A graphic novel is a hybrid between a comic book and a novel. There are large sections of prose broken up by comic-book style pictures. Comic books have simpler storylines that are easy to follow whereas graphic novels have longer and more complicated plots, much more akin to a novel. Graphic novels, different from a standard novel, rely much more on art to tell the story.
Reasons to Read Comic Books & Graphic Novels
The abundance of artwork in comic books and graphic novels creates a visual format for students to better comprehend what they are reading. As they read, they utilize the pictures to help further their understanding of the storyline and in turn, the pictures help support the plot. Additionally, the artwork help students visualize the events, and this engages readers.
The illustrations make reading more interactive for reluctant or struggling readers. Students are able to see characters’ emotions and the action events play out before their eyes, which makes readers want to come back for more.
It is a less intimidating genre or format to read as the artwork helps students become more motivated to tackle a story. Plus, less words are on the page and this makes it less intimidating as well. With smaller amounts of text and more pictures, readers can take more pleasure in actual reading as they don’t spend as much time decoding the storyline.
Transition Between Picture Books to Novels
In second or third grade, as students transition from picture books to novels, comic books and graphic novels help bridge the gap. Specifically, graphic novels help students shift over into books with longer paragraphs and less and less pictures. The artwork in comic books provides a type of scaffolding as students then move onto graphic novels and eventually longer books. However, a lover of comics and graphic novels will still continue to read them, well after they’ve mastered longer books, just like my son and some of my students.
A study performed at the University of Oregon found that comic books average 53.5 rare words per thousand. This is compared to children’s books which have 30.9 rare words. Comic books even outrank adult books which have an average of 52.7 rare words per thousand. So if you’re looking to expand your students’ vocabulary, then add some comic books to your classroom library. Additionally, dialogue drives a lot of the storyline in comic books which provides support to English-language learners. The simplified dialogue and the expressions in the pictures help students decode words they may not know.
Kid-Friendly Comic Books for the Classroom Library
The following comic books are ones my students and son (5th grade) have absolutely loved. Many comic book stores carry these specific titles. eBay, yard sales, and even the basement of a comic-loving family member are all places where you can find wonderful comic books as well.
Woody Woodpecker by Harvey Comics: Woody Woodpecker and his two children go on many humorous adventures. This comic is nostalgic for adults, but kids will also recognize Woody from a current movie and television show.
Roger Rabbit: This vintage comic is about a rabbit that joins forces with a detective to solve mysteries. Kids will love the goofy antics of Roger Rabbit.
Fantastic Four by Marvel/Ryan North: What kid doesn’t love superheroes? This one is about a variety of superheroes, including a rock-man, two stretchy people, and a flame-headed hero. These comics contain adventures, humor, and engaging storylines.
Huckleberry Hound by Dell Publishing is one of my son’s favorites. It’s about a dog named Huckleberry Hound who gets into all sorts of silly mishaps. My son’s favorite includes Huckleberry pretending to be a pirate.
Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker is about a lazy and goofy army man and the troubles he gets into while serving. Kids will be laughing hysterically at his antics.
Looney Tunes by DC Comics: These comics contain the adventures of Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, among many others.
When I asked my son about his love for comics, this is what he said: “I like comics so much because they’re not as long as books, they’re really funny, and it makes reading fun.”
Anything that makes reading fun is a win in our books!
Need help with your reluctant writers?
Do your students love to read about superheroes but dislike writing? Now, envision the transformation in their writing when they’re inspired to write about these captivating characters. Picture the enthusiasm and creativity they’ll unleash, sparking a newfound love for writing when you share our Superhero Writing Activity with them. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to ignite their writing potential.
These popular graphic novels have been enjoyed by my students and son as well. Once he was finished with a graphic novel, I would add it to my classroom library. I’ve had third graders to sixth graders love them so much!
My son says, “I like graphic novels because they’re cool and they’re easier to read because of the pictures. The chapters are short and I can finish them quickly. It makes reading enjoyable for me. Plus, they’re not as serious as other books. I can laugh more with these.”
Max Meow Series by John Gallagher
Publisher’s Synopsis: Max is just a regular cat in Kittyopolis, trying to make it big as a podcaster UNTIL he accidentally takes a bite of an RADIOACTIVE SPACE MEATBALL at his best friend Mindy’s SECRET LAB. Then before you can say MEOWZA, Max becomes…The CAT CRUSADER! Being a super hero is fun–but not if you get so cocky, you forget your best friend! Will Max and Mindy make up? And together, can they save Kittyopolis from the evil Agent M and BIG BOSS?! Find out in this furr-ociously funny series!
Cat Kid Comic Club Series by Dav Pilkey
Publisher’s Synopsis: Naomi, Melvin, Pedro, and Poppy are just a few of the twenty-one rambunctious, funny, and talented baby frogs who share their stories in the Cat Kid Comic Club. Can Li’l Petey, Molly, and Flippy help the students express themselves through comics? The adventures in class and on paper unwind with mishaps and hilarity as the creative baby frogs experience the mistakes and progress that come with practice and persistence.
Dog Man Series by Dav Pilkey
Publisher’s Synopsis: George and Harold have created a new breed of justice. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound digs into deception, claws after crooks, rolls over robbers, and scampers after squirrels. Will he be able to resist the call of the wild to answer the call of duty?
The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin
Publisher’s Synopsis: Join Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, Dawn, and Mallory on their baby-sitting adventures! No matter what comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbors, prank calls — you can count on the BSC to save the day.Bestselling cartoonists Raina Telgemeier (Books #1-4) and Gale Galligan (Books #5-7) perfectly capture all the drama and humor of the original novels by Ann M. Martin.
Sunny Side-Up Series by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Publisher’s Synopsis: Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of . . . old people. Really old people.Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer.
Graphic Novel Genre
The graphic novel genre has grown tremendously in the past decade. This is just a snippet of the many graphic novels out there. From trying to solve mysteries to fighting evil forces, from explorers to superheroes, there’s a graphic novel out there for every student.
Speaking of superheroes, if you have a superhero-themed classroom or just enjoy those types of comics and books, we have some superhero resources for you!
Comic books and graphic novels in your classroom library will enrich the reading experience of your students. If you have struggling, reluctant, or ELL readers, bridge the gap through this specific genre. If you have students who don’t love to read or haven’t found a particular book they like, encourage them to pick up a graphic novel or comic. Not only will they fall in love with reading, but their comprehension skills and vocabulary will leap in bounds, just like Superman. 🙂