Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Libraries Get Graphic in July


What is your favorite graphic novel? Batman? Class Act? Nimona? July is Graphic Novels in the Library Month (actually, every month is but they are featured in July). Did you know your local library has graphic novels? Graphic novels are finally being recognized as an actual educational reading and have received their own month to be celebrated

What is a graphic novel? Britannica defines graphic novels as a type of text combining words and images—essentially a comic, although the term most commonly refers to a complete story presented as a book rather than a periodical. The term graphic novel was coined in the 1970s and it is still debated as to what was the first official graphic novel. In the beginning, the graphic novel was a combination of comics that formed an actual book. Graphic novels were also thought to be the adult answer to the more juvenile comic book. Today, there are graphic novels for all ages and genres.

Are graphic novels real books? Yes, graphic novels contain words that form sentences so they can be read in book form. According to research by Northwestern University as well as the Cleveland Public Library, reading graphic novels helps kids master sequencing and linear thought, build visual literacy, strengthen attention to detail, and increase reading comprehension (turns out when you both see a picture and read words that describe it, you remember it better).  Michael Schumacher describes graphic novels as “book-length works of sequential art expanded in scope [beyond science fiction and fantasy] to include biography, memoir, history, and other types of non-fiction.” Esther Keller, a Brooklyn, N.Y. librarian and contributor to the School Library Journal, says, “A school or library that doesn’t include graphic novels isn’t addressing the needs or wants of their community… Images are a part of today’s culture: selfies, pictures on the net, ads, video, infographics. If we aren’t educating young students about reading images, they aren’t getting a rounded education.”

But what about manga? Is it a graphic novel? Manga is a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, typically aimed at adults as well as children. With diverse genres and themes, the majority of the population of Japan read manga. In the United States, if you enjoy reading from back to front, then manga is the graphic novel for you.

What’s all this mean for you? Young adults have known all along, but adults, including educators and parents, are finally acknowledging the awesomeness that is graphic novels. Libraries are celebrating with an entire month focused on great graphic novels. So, you can go to the library, check out a graphic novel for free, and read something that you enjoy!