Graphic Novels and Children

For the purpose of our course we analysis graphic novels whose target audience, so far, has been clearly for an older audience. However, graphic novels are increasingly finding a multiplying space in young children’s literature, as well as all levels of youth literature.


Picture books have always been a staple for children’s literature, for the very obvious reasons. The visual element of picture books offers children an experience before they can read, or while they are trying to learn to read. Since picture books have the dominate spot in children’s literature it makes sense that graphic novels would eventually make their way into the category, since they rely on a visual element. However there is a clear difference between just a picture book and a children’s graphic novel. Graphic novels for children are marked by the frequent use of panels to break up image sequences and convey a more articulate sense of story.Picture books on the other hand usually have only one main image with short simple text or text only on the bottom of the page.


As we have discussed in class there is debate whether graphic novels necessarily need words to fully belong in the graphic novel category. However there are examples in graphic novels geared towards children that prove that lack of words do not mean that there is lack of story. For example The Adventures of Polo is a graphic novel about a little dog’s imaginative adventures. In the graphic novel there are not any words in the comic pages relying on the pictures alone. Despite the fact that there are no words it still does not count as just a picture book. because the pages are sectioned off into panels of different shapes and storyboards as they need to tell the story.

adventures of polo

An intriguing feature is that some graphic novels for children have instructions for how to read the pages for children. This is fascinating because it proves how these graphic novels are an introduction for kids into how graphic novels function and the ways in which graphic novels need to be read. In this page from the children’s book Airplane Adventure it instructs young readers on how to follow action sequences in the panel. It teaches children first on how to understand the flow of panels on a page. Secondly it teaches children how they should pay attention not just to the picture but the words and actions. This plays into the way we analyses comics later in life, where we have to analyze both the image and the words to comprehend the overall text of the graphic novel.


As children get older graphic novels directed towards their age group get more diverse and more detailed. There are graphic novels for fantasy, mystery, and mythology. These graphic novels begin to show more depth and variation compared to the graphic novels produced for younger children. This makes perfect sense that the more simple graphic novels are styled for younger children, which they grow in complexity as the age group grows. Until the graphic novels reach the style that we have analyzed in the course.

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Overall graphic novels are a growing genre for children and a rising industry. Younger children’s graphic novels have a larger focus on images over text, due to the fact that younger children either cannot read or are still new to reading. However many children’s graphic novels do still have text components and are richly constructed. Comics such as The Adventures of Polo rely more on images, however it still gets a great amount of depth and is visually pleasing to look at. It is also an example of how graphic novels do not have to rely on text to communicate story or depth. Graphic novels for children are also fascinating because they often include instructions for children on how to read graphic novels. Providing a way for young readers to get an introduction into the way graphic novels work. As children’s reading levels become more advanced then graphic novels grow in selection and quantity. There are increasingly many different genres of graphic novels in selections for older children then the younger audience has. However there is a growth in graphic novels available for children and this is notable for the way people perceive graphic novels as an industry.