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Find Joy in Reading with Graphic Novels

Encouraging children to read during summer break can be an uphill battle for parents and caregivers. No one wants the dreaded “summer slide” of kids losing school year progress, , but the reality is that it is going to happen if a child isn’t flexing those brain muscles. Well-meaning adults suggest titles that they loved as a kid or try to help their child get ahead by selecting a book that might be read in class the following year, but who would want to read a book when you could watch TV shows instead? How do we pry their eyes away from screens during the summer?

It’s simple: Introduce your reader to graphic novels.

Parents often ask if graphic novels or comics count as “real books.” The answer is, yes, of course! Any time that your child sits down with a book or an e-reader, they are actively reading and practicing their reading abilities. The pictures make them fun and interesting, but they do not negate the educational value of the text within them. Graphic novels are generally longer than your typical comic book or they may consist of a collection of multiple comics published together. They are written for a wide variety of ages and grade levels, ensuring that your student will be able to find a fun and engaging book to read that will still challenge their reading skills and vocabulary comprehension.

Graphic novels, particularly for tweens, also tend to depict situations involving characters in the same age range as your readers. This can help them navigate social situations and friendships, which is especially helpful as so much about children’s interactions with one another have changed in the past year.

Some of the titles that have been popular in recent years include retellings of popular stories, such as “The Baby-Sitters Club,” original stories like “Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea,” “Cleopatra in Space,” “New Kid” and, of course favorite author Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man.” Topics range from silly to serious, with stories about crime-solving dogs for elementary-aged readers to memoirs of overcoming the odds geared towards those in middle and high school. Graphic novels exist in a collection where fans of nearly every genre can find something to enjoy or learn.

Graphic Novels Graphic Novels Graphic Novels

The wonder of a graphic novel is that a child can pick it up, read it in one or two sittings, and then move on to the next in the series or choose another book. It has the episodic feel of watching a TV show but without the strain that comes from staring at a screen all day and the benefit of sharpening their reading skills. Most kids won’t tell you that reading is “fun,” but graphic novels are helping more kids find joy in reading. If that doesn’t work and your child still needs some incentive to pick up a book this summer, the time spent with graphic novels can be logged for Hillsborough County Public Library’s summer reading program and the ever-popular Reading with the Rays!

Graphic novels are available for readers of all ages at all Hillsborough County Public Library locations, as are digital copies that can be accessed in the Libby app with your library card information.

Check out some of the most popular graphic novels for kids from the past few years at

Tell us about the summer reading books you find and enjoy. Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @TampaHillsLib #813Reads #HCPLC21Summer.

*All photos provided by Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

Originally published in July 2021

Toni Green
Toni Green

Toni Green is a librarian with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a BA in English literature and a master’s degree in library and information science. When she’s not surrounded by books, she can usually be found hanging out with her partner and their two daughters, knitting, or baking macarons. 

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