BYU Radio

MONOLOGUE: “Graphic Novels”

In my children’s literature classes, I teach my students about the range of genres and formats that make up the field of children’s literature. Amongst the most misunderstood formats we study is the graphic novel.  It helps, that today, most people understand that by “graphic” we mean illustrations and not some kind of extreme content. But even if they understand what they are, many of my students still seem to think that the format is not worthy of their attention. I guess a lot of this has to do with the historical view of comics. And maybe, even harkening back to the deep explorations the United States Congress did in the 1950s, where they laid the causes of juvenile delinquency right at the feet of crime, horror, and superhero comics. I also think this has a lot to do with the fact that some people see illustrations as some lesser form of literacy, not understanding that we have to read pictures just as much as we read texts. No matter the cause, I encounter many who see graphic novels as escapist fair that has little depth and certainly no place in an educational context. But happily, most often as I work with them, they come to see just what a complex and useful format a graphic novel can be. As a reader, I love graphic novels because they help me to see the world an author creates differently than just a story told with only words. I think of them a lot like a stage play - I don’t like reading dramatic scripts because there is nothing there to see. I can’t see the actor’s feelings or inflections with just words on a page. However, if I see the play on a stage, I get all that and more. For me, graphic novels work the same way. Just words or dialogue would be bland but with the pictures, I can see the world and the emotions and context of the characters. As a teacher, I love graphic novels because they engage all kinds of literacies at the same time, so we can flex our visual literacy and reading literacies all at once. So, both as a reader and a teacher, I find great things in graphic novels. And in the end, graphic novels and other sequential art like them are just another way to tell an amazing story. And since you know that here at Worlds Awaiting we love stories, we know you won’t find it hard to believe that we love graphic novels too.


From Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.