Check It Out: Comic books can be fun, educational

September 08, 2011|By Heather Hart

Comics are making a big comeback — just look at the comic-character centered movies that have come out recently.

Not to be left out, libraries around the country, including the Newport Beach Public Library, are jumping in at the opportunity to offer comics for children.

Some people may ask, why add comics to libraries? Shouldn't libraries focus on finding ways to get kids to read "real" books? There are a multitude of reasons. First, comic books help reluctant readers, especially boys, become interested in books. Many comics today are also geared specifically with children in mind. They speak to children's interests.


Comic books can also be less intimidating than regular books. Stories told through illustrations are something children are already familiar with. Since comic books combine words with pictures they make a perfect transition into reading different types of books.

Also known as graphic novels, (don't worry, graphic novels are not actually graphic in content, just novels told in the form of comic strips) comics can be of use in the classroom. Their artistic style can teach a lot about visual design. They can also assist in teaching kids about storytelling, narration, dialogue and presentation. There are even arguments that claim reading graphic novels make your brain work more than reading conventional novels — because the reader is bombarded simultaneously by characters, setting, plot and action.

See for yourself just how fun and educational comics can be. These and many more selections can be found at your local library in the Children's Comic and Graphic Novel collections:

"Owly" by Andy Runton tells the story of two friends, an owl and a worm. These wordless novels manage to tell a story of friendship — without uttering a single word.

"Babymouse" by Jennifer Holm is about a lovable, girly mouse who knows what she wants. The bright pink colored pages are perfect for drawing in girl readers.

Many classic books have now been adapted into comic form. They will never replace the originals, but are a great way to introduce children to the classics. Look for titles such as "Black Beauty" by June Brigman, "Treasure Island" by Tim Hamilton, "Gulliver's Travels" by Lewis Helfand, and many more.

There are also several entertaining, beautiful versions of classic fairy tales. Some favorites include "Thumbelina" by Martin Powell, and "The Emperor's New Clothing" by Stephanie Peters.

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