How to read comics/graphic novels with children

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Right now, my 9 year old daughter and I are in the heat of battle. We both want to buy a set of five books in wings to shoot Toy T Sutherland series. However, I want to buy the original novels while she wants to buy the graphic novels with Mike Holmes’ art. After writing this article, I think it might win – but technically I’m doing all the research and preparing for it. I mean, I have nothing against comic books and graphic novels. We may have room on the shelf for more comics and we may not (probably *not*). The thing is that I love to read wings to shoot series with My daughter. And like many parents and caregivers, I’m not always comfortable or confident How to read comics with children. It’s a little silly because the rewards of reading with kids are earned no matter what style of book you’re reading. However, comic books and graphic novels always seem to start with a bad actor despite the many amazing benefits. It kind of has to do with the idea that pictures don’t make sounds and therefore can’t be ‘read aloud’. Well, this is wrong.

I’m going to assume you already know how wonderful it is to read aloud with your children. Book Riot fellow Katie has it covered in her latest article here. We missed our annual reminder that graphic novels are a “real” read (thanks, Molly). So why do so many parents avoid reading comics and graphic novels with their children? Let’s break it down into a few steps and deconstruct the myths about comics. Oh, and for the sake of writing, from now on, “comics” include both “graphic books” and “graphic novels.”

Step 1: Not all comic books and graphic novels wear headscarves

Before sharing any comic book or graphic novel with your child, please ensure that it is appropriate for their age. Bokasso by Remy Lay is adorable. long story By Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples are equally glamorous but less fitting. You don’t have to be a superhero or even anything from the Marvel or DC franchises. There are a lot of great books, suitable for children and read aloud with children. My advice is to start with a topic they are interested in.

Bokasso by Remy Lay

Step 2: What big eyes you have! All the better is to see you with me, my dear

There is nothing wrong with taking out the magnifying glass. Be sure to choose a book with clear graphics and illustrations. The idea behind reading picture books and graphic novels with children is to show how artwork is used to give context to the story. Content creators want to include a lot in each panel, even if it comes at the expense of font size. This is where planning is important.

Step 3: Apply it completely

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the design of comics to help with the flow of reading. There are traditional comics layouts, and there are content creators who go to a completely different place. Western comics traditionally flow from left to right and then top to bottom, while manga is top to bottom and then right to left. Speech bubbles or characters often flow to the next board to give a sense of movement or momentum. Then there are those narrative blocks that create a full-page spread, leaving you with a feast for the eyes as you search hidden secrets for clues.

Step 4: Bring in the best award winning performance

Reading aloud with children is fun. Even if you simply follow the words with as much vanilla as possible, there is always a chance to change the sound between characters or to fit the scene. But this is where the comics raise the bar.

Dynamic speech bubbles! They alone create a flow of dialogue within the storytelling. They can be standard speech bubbles or thought clouds. Add another character, and we have speech bubbles overlapping each other to show the flow of the conversation…and interrupting when one person’s speech overlaps another. Basically, speech bubbles can be personal in their own right. This is your moment to shine! Bring out your character’s voices, show your passion, and show your vitality!

This works well with sound effects. Harken is back in the 1960s TV show Batman With Adam West as the character. Remember the big prisoner! And the bam! Spread across the screen during fight scenes? You want to capture the same effect because these words are part of the emotional environment in storytelling.

A still from the movie Batman (1966) showing the word Crunch on screen.  Image taken from IMDB:
screenshot from Batman (1966) / photo by IMDB

The same can be said about the use of color. I remember reading the editor’s note in an Archie Comic story in the ’80s. The whole page was about using color to detail the mood and atmosphere of the scene. The example included two images of Archie’s head – one with a red background and the other with a blue background. By using different colors, creators can provide more ideas about what happens in the story. Red can be action, fear or excitement. Blue could be more meditative.

Step 5: Pause for effect

Don’t worry: you don’t have to keep those emotional highs for all the comics. Just like reading novels with children, there are natural places to stop, breathe, and soak up the visual beauty. If the painting or page is saturated with visuals, this is the moment to stop and appreciate the art. Take the time and let your young readers see the images, colors, facial expressions, and “action lines” added for effect. You are ready to move on to the next panel when you think they have fully understood your place in the story.

This is one area where comics have an advantage over general novels. Do you remember these comprehension exercises in school? That’s what comics are about. Comics often require us to infer information that would have been told in the novel. The visuals are there to help set the scene (literally) and mood (mostly figuratively). Reasoning is one of the basic reading skills and often one of the most difficult reading skills for children. It is the skill of drawing conclusions based on what we read. By stopping to look at the picture, we can encourage children to understand all the elements of the story and not just the dialogue. When you get to this point in reading time, slow down and let them really see the artwork. Ask them to point you out, then ask them how it fits into the story.

Full page from Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland, art by Mike Holmes.  Featuring six (6) dragons walking in the rain.
full page of Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom By Toy T Sutherland, art by Mike Holmes

These are the basic steps of how to read storyboards with children. Once you read some picture books or graphic novels, you will find your own rhythm and style. The more you read together, the more comfortable you will feel. You can take it in turns reading, or maybe one of them does the dialogue while the other does the sound effects and scenery. The goal is to read: read together and read aloud.

If you’re still looking for some books to read together, Book writer Riot Hannah has a list of 15 of the best picture books for kids. Each of these books fits all of the advice above: there’s a good selection of genres, it’s easy to see, the layout is easy to follow, the dialogue is easy to follow, and there are natural places to stop and build understanding. . Feel free to add your favorites to our social media chats.

And yes, I have bought wings to shoot A graphic novel set. What can I say? It was a very convincing argument. We’ll read it together tonight.

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