Comic books have had a bad name for years. They have been bottom of the literary totem pole since they were invented. They are pulpy, throwaway, and above all, they aren’t real literature. Reading comic books isn’t really reading. These are all things you might hear said about comics. Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret… Not only do comics have words in them, but you need to read those words to… you know… read them.
I want to let you in on another secret: comics and graphic novels can be a door, a portal, a magical gateway that leads the reader to a very special place. When I was a boy, I was a reluctant reader. That was until my father handed me a scruffy pile of old Thor comics. On that day everything changed. I read them. I read every page, every panel, every sound effect, every word. Over and over. After that, I read more comics, then graphic novels, and before I knew it, I was reading novels, and non-fiction, working in bookshops, and eventually became a writer myself. I had stumbled through that secret door and fallen into a love of reading.
This isn’t just my story, but the story of thousands of other reluctant readers. So, why are comics such a great introduction to the world of reading? A big part of this answer is to do with what makes them unique: the interplay between image and text. They are not simply picture books with more pictures. No, comics bring picture and text together in a way that no other medium can. This has huge benefits for reluctant readers.
The interplay of image and text makes it far easier for readers who struggle with large blocks of text or comprehension. The images provide context for the text, making it easier to decode meaning because the pictures support and work in tandem with the words. By their nature, comics often use simpler and shorter sentences and more accessible language. This can be especially beneficial for struggling readers who may find it difficult to process complex sentence structures or unfamiliar vocabulary.
My story of discovering a love of reading isn’t just anecdotal. No, academics, librarians, and teachers are finding out what I discovered in the pages of Marvel’s Thor for themselves. Graphic novels are less intimidating for reluctant readers. They signpost the meaning of the words in the action of the images, and above all, they are filled with fantastic stories that foster imagination, comprehension, and engagement. For all the reasons that graphic novels may be ideal for a reluctant reader, they are just as useful for learners for whom English is a foreign language.
This brings me to what we are doing here at BookLife Publishing. Our Graphic Readers have been developed with those very reluctant readers in mind. They are comics for kids. Comics filled with fantastical stories that you can be sure are age appropriate. I want to offer every reluctant reader a story that could prove to be their secret door, delivered with the “KAPOW” excitement of a batarang.
Check out our full range of Graphic Readers here!