graphic novels 01


Let’s talk about one of the proverbial elephants in the room of literary works: graphic novels. As a form of literature, graphic novels and comic books have been around for nearly a century. However, the term “graphic novel,” which was originally used in the 1960s, did not gain prominence until the late 1970s (Hintz & Tribunella, 2013). Since then, the term has become more widely accepted as describing a book-length story with images that uses panels. Recently, there has been an increased interest in the format. Although comic books and graphic novels have always found an audience, in the last decade alone their sales in North America have increased by 90% (Gavigan, 2014).  Graphic novels for all ages covering a variety of topics are being published every year. According to one statistic, sales increased from $43 million in 2001 to a staggering $375 million in 2007 (Holston & Nguyen, 2008).

Despite this recent surge in interest, many people are hesitant to accept the format and many negative perceptions and misconceptions surrounding graphic novels still exist. For example, one misconception that is still being corrected is that the word “graphic” refers to the level of violent or sexual content found in the books (Chance, 2014). Many still associate comics and graphic novels exclusively with superheroes. Some also believe that the format should not be considered a legitimate literary format. Others think the format is a good start for reluctant readers before they move onto other formats. 

Although there are studies that support the use of graphic novels and discuss their benefits and literary merits, the purpose of this post is not to prove whether or not graphic novels have literary value or educational benefits. The purpose of this blog is to invite you to decide for yourself what you think of the format. Check out a graphic novel (yes, all ages can do this). See what you think of the format. We have three collections of graphic novels and comics: one for children, one for teens and one for adults. I believe that books can play a variety of roles for different people. See what role you might want graphic novels to play for you. 

Here is a booklist of graphic novels (they are for children but adults and teens might enjoy many of them too!).


Chance, R. (2014). Young adult literature in action: A librarian's guide (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Gavigan, K. W. (January, 2014). Shedding new light on graphic novel collections: A circulation and collection analysis study in six middle school libraries. School Libraries Worldwide, 20 (1), 97-115.

Hintz, C., & Tribunella, E. (2013). Reading children's literature: A critical introduction. New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martin's.      

Holston, A., & Nguyen, T. (2008). The maverick graphic novel list: Unmasking the mystery of comics and graphic novels for libraries. Texas Library Journal, 84(3), 92-95.

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