I’ve talked about my struggles and triumphs with graphic novels on this blog quite a bit, and when I came across an opportunity to share more positivity around them, I took that chance. So here’s an article I wrote for a local paper about my feelings about graphic novels, with a couple of examples of titles your child might be interested in.
In more recent years, children’s books have begun to discuss and reflect the issues of our times, including bullying, racism, and other issues. I think this is all great, it exposes young people to people and situations they haven’t yet encountered and/or provides them characters that they can actually connect to. However, it can also cause you to step up your parenting game to ensure that they are not learning any misunderstandings or that you’re available to answer any questions they may have. This is especially true if your children are advanced readers. Recently, I have had instances with both of my children that gave me reason to write this post.
My son loves graphic novels, and although it used to bug me at first, I have come around to the idea that as long as he’s in a book, we’re good. (Read about my trials here.) A while ago during a trip to the bookstore, he picked out Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Shell. I had heard of it, and heard good things about it, but hadn’t read it for myself. My son was enthralled with this book for a good 2 days, telling me about cool things he saw throughout the book. When I was finally able to get my own hands on it, I realized that it was about more than kids creating communities with cardboard boxes. In reality, although all the stories are connected, there are multiple story lines that include some heavy topics, including gender identity and divorce. My issue became that I didn’t know if my son, who generally pays more attention to the illustrations than the words, grasped those things. So, knowing my child, I knew that we couldn’t rehash or reread the entire story again, however, we did have some conversation about a couple of the characters just to see if he had any questions about the story, which he did not. I don’t regret him reading the book at all, but I wish I would’ve been able to preview the book with him before he started reading it.
My daughter recently turned 10, and her reading preferences are starting to advance faster than her actual age. Recently, she checked out the audio version of The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore. This novel is about a 12 year old boy dealing with the aftermath of the death of his brother in a gang-related shooting. It’s been on my TBR list for a while, and although I would’ve preferred to read it first, I’m not in the habit of denying my kids books they want to read. I could tell that she really got it into the audiobook, because she would play it in the evenings, not just before bedtime. Honestly, I didn’t think she would stick with it, but she wanted to make sure she heard all of the story. I kept the option open for her to talk about the book if she wanted, but she didn’t seem to need that.
I say all this to say that as you are #RaisingReaders, be sure to at least try to know what your child is reading, just in case their books are covering topics that may lead to other discussions.
I just wanted to quickly wish everyone a Happy New Year, and to remember to keep raising readers, no matter where that may take you and your reader(s)!
In 2018 I gave into Harry Potter (really the fantasy genre as a whole) and developed a true appreciation for graphic novels. As a result, my kiddos continue to grow as readers and as educated citizens in general, even though that’s probably not the path I would have taken to get them there. But that’s the power in giving them choice–as long as I keep an eye on the long term goal (to enjoy books), it has been less of a headache for me and them to let them take the lead as often as I can.
So if you haven’t tried letting them take the lead, take this new year as an opportunity to let them lead the way!
Occasionally, I get books in the mail (#bookexcursion) or bring books home that one of my kids will grab before I get a chance to read it. In this case, both of my children have grabbed these books and kept them from me for a while.
These Get to Know Your Universe Science Comics are right up both of my kids’ alley, so they may be good for your readers too.
*If you have a reader who likes graphic novels or comics, this series could be for them, OR
*If you have a reader who likes nonfiction, this series could be for them, OR
*If your reader asks a lot of “why?” questions, these books could work for them, OR
*If you have a reader that wants to learn more about any of the variety of topics they cover, including dogs, sharks, or volcanoes, this series could be for them.
As you are #RaisingReaders, you probably have a child that fits in at least one of these categories. My kids each fit in more than one, which explains why they disappeared from me so quickly. This series of books have the right combination of information and fun that kept both of my children reading these books over and over.
I’ve said for some time now that my son is a visual learner. Part of it is his way of taking a shortcut, and I think part of it is because pictures are just more appealing to him. Last night we were having a conversation about reading until we fall asleep, and using a flashlight to help us see. I’d like to share part of that conversation as a way to show how he thinks:
Son: Mom, since I’m going to read the Derek Jeter book tonight, I won’t need the flashlight.
Son: Because, I only need the flashlight to look at the pictures, and this book doesn’t have any pictures.
Me (confused/amused): Honey, you need the flashlight to see the words too.
Son (adamant): No, you really need to flashlight to see the pictures. I can see the words without the flashlight.
Me: Ok child.
See what I mean? He doesn’t even see the words and pictures as equally important. Thank goodness for books/series like Captain Underpants and Big Nate, so my fight to #raisereaders isn’t as stressful. I can’t even be mad at him. He’s my one of a kind.