Oh, hi! Are you new here? If so, welcome to the AMP | Kids blog, a place to celebrate comics. For kids. Two of the most vibrant and fun-loving things on this planet rolled into one. We’re also here to serve as a resource for one of the greatest groups of adults on the planet: Librarians. Perhaps these missions are not abundantly clear because this blog has been a little, somewhat, shall we say… neglected.
But don’t worry! We haven’t stopped creating amazing comics for kids (in addition to illustrated novels, early reader titles, and activity books), and we’re breathing life back into this blog so we can further our cause: getting kids into reading. And there’s nothing better for that than comics!
We figure what better way to celebrate said revival than to get back to the basics with a series we’re calling Comics 101. Today’s post is a rundown of all the ways comics are awesome for kids. Drum roll, please…
Ask the Experts: Comics Are as Cool as Classics
The Eisner Awards (basically the Oscars for comics without the “Best/Worst Dressed” Lists) have been highlighting the most innovative and impactful work in the comics genre since 1988, and several of the categories honor books for young readers. There’s also an Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries, which provide support to graphic novel services and programs in libraries.
The American Library Association can back us up, too. They gave graphic novels their own stage at ALA’s annual conference and have recognized their incredible literary merit with the Printz Award (twice!). And that’s not even going into the Geisel Award winners, a few National Book Award finalists, and oh, did we mention the Pulitzer? That’s right, the Pulitzer Prize, arguably the highest recognition to which a written work could aspire (besides a perfect five-star-rating on Goodreads) has been won by a graphic novel. Not too shabby!
Kids Like Them! They Really, Really Like Them!
When given a choice, kids—especially reluctant readers—gravitate more and more toward the comics format over traditional. In fact, kids’ graphic novels sales went up 24% in 2016. This may in part be due to what has been dubbed the “Raina Telgemeier Effect.” Maybe you’ve heard of Raina Telgemeier. Or maybe you live under a rock. We don’t know your life, but we can almost guarantee your students know about Raina. She’s kind of a comics rock star, and she’s getting a whole new generation of kids hooked on reading. Raina, whose name literally means “queen,” joins author/illustrator powerhouses like Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s Jeff Kinney in defining a graphic novel genre of realistic fiction that kids just devour. “Comics are good for so many different kinds of readers,” Raina Telgemeier (the literal queen) told NPR. “Kids who have never finished a book on their own before can pick up a graphic novel and be done in an hour and feel empowered, that they’ve never had that experience before. They finished something.”
Comics are Good for Libraries
The numbers speak for themselves: When libraries add a comics/graphic novel section to their collections, library usage goes up a whopping average of 82%. A comics/graphic novel section boosts other sections’ circulation by an extra 30%. “As a librarian you cannot get more bang for your buck than graphic novels,” says Christian Zabriskie, New York City librarian and founder of Urban Librarians Unite. “They circulate like mad, reach across generations, and drive circulation wherever they go.”
Long story short, comics are a great way to get kids to love reading. And when you instill a love of reading, you put them on a path to success, in the classroom, and in life. This segues nicely into Part 2 of our Comics 101 series, Why Comics Should Be Used in the Classroom – check back soon!