'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 15 September 2012

Librarian's Shelf: The Lowdown on Graphic Novels

Over the last twenty years, the presence of graphic novels on library shelves and in comic stores has increased, and although the term occasionally leads to raised eyebrows, it is now a recognised genre.

A graphic novel is simply a novel-length story told in comic book format. It can also refer to a compilation of comic strips bound into a single book.

Here are a few things you should know about graphic novels:

  1. They encourage reading for fun, but are great tools for teaching visual literacy, and often offer complex stories which address social issues.
  2. They can be helpful to encourage reluctant readers, or to bridge the gap between picture books and novels with text only.
  3. Many mainstream publishers have graphic novels on their stock lists.
  4. Classic literature like Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice is being re-told in graphic format, introducing the stories to readers who may not otherwise try them.
  5. Maus, Art Spiegelman’s story of survival in Europe ravaged by World War II, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 2014, The Complete Maus will be on the prescribed English curriculum for students in Victoria.
  6. Manga is a Japanese form of the graphic novel.
  7. Will Eisner is known as the “father of the graphic novel”.
  8. Graphic novels are available for various age groups. Just like other genres, some books will include mature content, so take time to look at them yourself before buying or borrowing them for your child.

Looking for more information or graphic novel recommendations? Take a look at No Flying No Tights, a graphic novel review website of long-standing, which categorises books by age and theme.

Sarah Steed is our Consultant Librarian and reviewer. A former Children's and Young Adult Librarian, she has more than 18 years' experience working in public libraries. Sarah comes from a family of readers and has shelves full to bursting with books.