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Storytelling through art.

Comics and graphic novels are a growing trend with children. These reading materials have
historically been considered poor forms of literature for children to read or to engage with. Critics of these forms have long argued that there is little by way of reading that children actually do with graphic literature. In fact, the visuals in these forms have been said to distract children from doing the hard work of decoding print. Today, our understandings about reading have somewhat expanded. Reading today constitutes both decoding print and visuals.

Still, the popularity of this hybrid genre has not stalled over generations of children. As a child, I observed my brother read with uninterrupted intention, focus and delight these forms of literature more than any other reading material. In fact, reading comics and graphic literature was his favourite form of leisure. Children today are behaving the same way. I have observed children during recess in schools, waiting for parents at malls or for flights in airports who would intentionally find quiet spots to tuck away and enjoy some forms of graphic literature. After the reading ends, they band together to recount episodes as a form of play.

But graphic literature has moved on too to tell tales that are moving and inspirational for children. Award-winning, El Deafo, should not be missed by the uninitiated. Without a doubt, graphic literature engages children differently from chapter books or novels. They have pictures presented sequentially that imitate watching a cartoon or a movie. Similar to early talkies in film, children are brought into the story worlds of characters who are often very similar to themselves. Graphic literature is usually very entertaining and capture human expression, both verbally and visually, in ways unique and defining of this type of literature.

If children are setting aside time to engage with reading these forms of literature, let them lead in helping us discover child-initiated literature that we might miss. 

Take a look at these forms of comics: Archie, Duck Tales, Scooby Doo, Marmaduke, and these examples of graphic literature: Dogman, Cat Kid and The Bad Guys.

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