If you have a young reader in the house, you may have an acquaintance with graphic novels. The Oxford dictionary defines a graphic novel as “a full-length (esp. science fiction or fantasy) story published as a book in comic-strip format.” The number of illustrations and amount of text used in graphic novels varies. Just so parents are young readers are on the same page (har har), here are the basics about graphic novels.

  1. Graphic novel describes a book format, not its genre. The graphic novel format uses sequential art, much like a comic book, to tell a story. Graphic novels can be fiction, nonfiction, biography, sci-fi, or just about any genre. The popular Dog Man and Captain Underpants books are examples of graphic novels.
  2. Are graphic novels comic books? No, not exactly. While the format may look the same, graphic novels are most often stand-alone stories. Graphic novels generally have more complex character and narrative development than comic books. Comic books are often more like a chapter in an ongoing saga.
  3. Manga (What is that, by the way?) is one type of graphic novel. Translated from two Japanese characters, the term manga means “whimsical drawing.” Manga describes Japanese graphic novels and comic books.
  4. Are graphic novels suitable for mid-grade readers? YES! Like any genre, parents should help young readers choose graphic novels that are age and topic appropriate and of interest. Unlike picture books which are often geared toward emerging readers, graphic novels are available for mid-grade, YA, and even adult readers. Graphic novels often are a good choice for reluctant readers.

Enjoy exploring this format with your mid-grade reader.