Graphic Novels: Interesting Those Hard-To-Please Young AdultsAug 17, 2007 (Updated Sep 4, 2007) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Graphic novels are a popular genre that may draw your child or teenager back into the reading loop.
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One of my favorite memories is of coming to the library with my mother. My mother has always stressed the importance of reading to me, and while I know she began reading to me the very day I was born, the birth of my passion for reading seems to have come from sitting in the tall stacks of the library. I would lean my back against the shelving units near the back of the adult fiction section while my mother browsed, and I often tried to "help" her pick out books, selecting (of course) the books with the most extravagant looking covers. When I was old enough to wander on my own, I'd make my way to the children's room to do my own browsing while my mother did her own thing. I'd pick through the picture books and eventually I started reading chapter books, amazed at the thought that I may actually never be able to read every single book the way I wished I could. I browsed the non-fiction, looking at books about animals and science, even history. Eventually I made my way to the teen section, and once in awhile I'd even dip my toes in the adult section. My mother, then a teacher, became a media specialist for her school system and the literacy issue has become even more important in my life. As I've been working in my library since the age of fifteen, I'm always trying to be mindful of new books, information, and literacy issues (basically anything that has to do with libraries) and it is evident to me that as the generations of the future, today's children and teens need to be introduced to the importance of literacy, libraries, and information at an early age.
So What Are Graphic Novels?
Graphic novels are exactly what they sound like: they are graphic in the sense that they involve illustrations that depict the characters actions, emotions and expressions, as well as the atmosphere. They are novels because they involve a storyline that progresses with characters and actions and events. The term "graphic novel" can be used to describe a wide variety of reading material. Some would say comics could be considered graphic novel; the term can also be used to describe an inclusive story, and is also used to describe each volume in a continuous story's series. Other terms that describe graphic novels or are similar are comics, trade paperbacks, and manga.
Why the Spike in Graphic Novel Popularity?
As almost everyone must have noticed, good 'ole fashioned comics have become quite popular again in many various medias. Of course, comic shops still can be found in strip malls everywhere, and many grocers and retail shops still sell "Archie" and the like by the cash registers. Ask any youngster what their favorite movie is and chances are you'll hear a response of "Spiderman," "Superman," "X-Men," or "Fantastic Four," to name a few comic-made-films. These films are not only appealing to children but also to adults, many of whom read and enjoyed these characters during their own childhood. Many more adult friendly movies were once graphic novels as well, such "V for Vendetta" and "Sin City."
This is great! Now, when your child says, "Wow, mom, I really liked Spiderman," you can show him/her where the movie originated from... a book. The same is true when children and teens express an interest in Japanimation on television. Many of these fun, cartoon-ey action shows were once stories told graphically on paper. Now you can find stories for every age and in every genre told in graphic novel format.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Many children these days have become what we can call "multi-taskers." They take after mom and dad, constantly keeping busy what with so much information being thrown at them. Nicholas, my boyfriend's son, is always "multi-tasking" when we read: taking the opportunity to break in the seconds it takes to turn a page in order to ask what's for dinner or to yell at the dog. While you or I may find it hard to relax and read a book in today's fast-paced world, it is important to note that many children are taking after us. The result is that many children are not being exposed to the important things a book has to offer (it expands vocabulary and enhances language and comprehension skills, not to mention that it allows the reader to build an elaborate imagination and heck, isn't it just great to hold a book in your hands?) One simple solution for children and teens (and honestly many adults) is to allow them to use graphic novels to aid in building an appreciation for reading. These books are so varied in subject, age and reading level it is almost impossible to find something suitable for anyone.
Graphic novels have also been considered an art form in the last few years. Many authors do their own art work, creating a great combination of words and pictures to portray a scene specifically. I went to school at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis for Informatics and New Media, and many of the classes taught about the history and relevance of comics and two-dimensional art, and many students from this program choose to pursue a career in this art form.
In the library I work, graphic novels are what many of our teens check out. Sometimes these young adults find a series or story they are interested in that leads them to other novels and frequently, non-fiction books. Graphic novels are a great form of art and expression that offer an alternative to text-only books. This compromise of words and pictures helps continue to promote literacy in young adults and hey, even REAL adults, too!
A Few Graphic Novels I've reviewed
Electric Girl, Volume 1
Four Letter Worlds
Diary of a Teenage Girl
Epinions Graphic Novels and Comics
Young Adult Library Services Association's Great Graphic Novels For Teens: http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/booklistsawards/greatgraphicnovelsforteens/gn.htm
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