The Big Picture

Michael and I were talking today about how much our newly six-years-old son Coconut's reading has improved. A year ago, he could barely read simple words; now, he's moving on to chapter books.

One of the things we've noticed is that he's lost his fear of Big Books. It's a hard jump for a little guy to make - from thin, colorful picture books to thick books with lots of words and few, if any, pictures. Even when you assure your little dude that he doesn't have to finish the whole book at one go - that he can stop and read the rest later - the sheer weight of the thing just seems to drag his little heart down. It's intimidating!

We had similar problems with Swicky, when she moved to chapter books, too, even though reading came naturally to her in a way that it hasn't with Coconut. She was a born reader, easily immersing herself into the story - Coconut has been a reluctant reader from the start. But those big books...terrifying.

Recently, though, he's started picking up big chapter books and reading them with no hesitation, and we're pretty sure we know how he lost his fear:

If you haven't read this book yet, do it.
Read it to your kids. And yourself.

Graphic novels.

Graphic novels are amazing. They form a bridge between colorful stories with picture guidance and a word-bound realm of pure imagination. They are BIG - but they aren't scary. Once Coconut lost his fear of the size of chapter books, he found he could read them just fine. Swicky transitioned from picture books to graphic novels to chapter books, too, come to think of it.

Of course, there are lots of articles talking about why graphic novels and comics are awesome. Some great ones to start with:
Of course, I don't expect you to buy all the graphic novels and comic books you'd need for your soon-to-be ravenous reader - that's what libraries are for. Go ask your children's librarian for assistance!

P.S. - Graphic novels and comic books work great for other less-than-enthusiastic and/or -skilled readers, including teens and adults learning to read, and those learning English as a second language. They're also fantastic for adults who read perfectly fine, thank you, but who enjoy pretty pictures and good stories. Now I'm off to finish The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II.


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