Branch Out

CONTACT INFORMATION: Marketing and Communications Office: 8:30–4:30 M–F
703-324-3100 TTY 711
12000 Government Center Parkway Suite 324
Fairfax, VA 22035
Ashley Atkinson
Editor, Branch Out

Critically Acclaimed Graphic Novels for Critical Thinkers

Critically Acclaimed Graphic Novels for Critical Thinkers

By Marisa Rodriguez, School-Age and Teen Services Outreach Coordinator

You may have heard that graphic novels do not count as real books and that to become a better reader, you should stick to text only. These claims are simply outdated and untrue. There is extensive research that backs up the merits of graphic novels.

The American Educational Research Association has published a meta-analysis of dozens of reading comprehension studies spanning 1985 to 2018. It found that across the board, books with graphics supported reading comprehension, improved reader’s ability to critically analyze texts and increased the number of responses to open-ended questions about what they had read. Another article, published in 2022 by Stanford historian Tom Mullaney, explains that graphic novels can help provide nuanced and multidimensional perspectives, especially when tackling difficult and complex subjects.

In other words, there is ample proof that graphic novels are exceptional tools for becoming a better reader and a more critical thinker. To fall in love with reading, it is important to choose books that you love and that motivate you to pick them up – if graphic novels are what interest you, feel no qualms about reading them!

Embrace the critical thinker in you and check out these acclaimed and award-winning graphic novels, available at your local library:

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Michael L. Printz Award Winner, 2007)
This novel follows the lives of three young Chinese-Americans – the new kid at school, the popular kid and his cousin, who can’t quite seem to do anything right. In an unexpected twist, their lives come together as they explore their identities and how they fit in.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu (Eisner Award Winner, 2019)
Graphic novelist Bagieu sets out to profile the lives of women across the world who dared to blaze their own paths, achieve their dreams and inspire other budding rebel girls to follow in their footsteps.

March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illust. by Nate Powell (Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner, 2014)
Late Congressman John Lewis provides a firsthand account of his life’s work to fight for civil and human rights, from the days of Jim Crow and segregation through more modern times.

Puerto Rico Strong by Various (Eisner Award Winner, 2019)
This anthology tells the stories of diverse individuals as they navigate what it means to be Puerto Rican.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant