Cartoon books concern some parents and teachers who are worried about these comics’ connotations and lack of challenge. Also, the words ‘graphic novel’ probably causes many parents to raise their eyebrows, imagining stories told in a most unsavory style. However, children love them. And cartoon books can potentially make children who were once reluctant readers get excited about reading in general. Multiple studies indicate that cartoon book fans are just as proficient as text-only readers, often read above grade level, and have vocabularies that are more comprehensive.
• Increase inference – A study on how comic books boost inference skills for struggling elementary school readers showed that it practices the kids on inference. Inference is ‘reading between the lines’ and is critical to comprehension.
• Add vocabulary – There are books that intentionally introduce big words for readers to mull over. Kids add to their personal word bank through inference, asking a parent for help in cracking open a dictionary.
• Create confidence – Whether using phonics-based or whole-word approach, pictures build kids’ confidence. Rather than overwhelming the page with text, comics typically give one-line sentences and lots of emotional cues. Rather than having to be an independent reader, kids can look at comics and see visual context.
• Boost bonding – Nothing brings generations together like a case of the giggles. Parents can use comics’ illustrations to increase emotional IQ, asking questions about the depicted emotions of characters.
• Easy-reading classics – Not ready for wordy novels? Kids will probably say “more please” to a graphic novel version. Pictures explain period details and differences, and a simpler structure makes storylines clear. For capable kids, other high-concept can be explained through editorial comics.
• Get literate – Gen Z needs to develop a new skill, not taught through textbooks. Visual literacy is the ability to integrate text and visual input simultaneously. Melding words and pictures together, kids get the big picture. By causing the brain synapses to multitask while reading, kids will comprehend the screen effortlessly.
• Learn new language – If a child is already fluent in English, try ‘Calvin y Hobbes.’ Available from large booksellers and libraries, comics in other languages help children practice their language chops. After all, laughter needs no translation.
• Reinvigorate reluctant readers – Kids who think they hate reading often enjoy cartoon books. Some kids might start reading comics and do so for years, but this is a good transition for them before they delve into full length novels.
• Accelerate appreciation – Cartoon books demonstrate larger literary themes, despite their simple approach. They are a great choice for proficient readers who want to expand understanding. Protagonist, antagonist, story arc and resolution are all there, even when the title work uses no words at all.
• Cartoons for every taste – Whether children are looking for a sunny, sad, realistic, sci-fi, Japanese-inspired or stateside strip, there is a comic to meet that need.
No longer are the sullen kids in the back of the literary classroom, modern day cartoon books and graphic novels a well-respected, innovative genre.