Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Reading a Graphic Novel with my Child


I just read a Graphic Novel, Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier. It was such a great experience she looked forward to it every night and we finished 190+ pages in 3 nights. I tweeted about how this re-introduced intimacy in the night reading ritual (as she became a stronger reader, she missed the intimacy of me reading to her, but reading a Graphic novel together and switching roles made it a sort of shared and egalitarian experience).

I think this approach to reading helped her read slightly above her reading level (because I was there the whole time and not just when she asked for help… And we got to discuss lots of the plot and pictures in the story.

I still want her to enjoy reading on her own for reading’s sake, rather than as a social thing… But who am I kidding? As much as I love reading as a solitary activity, reading with others is its own joy… That’s why I love reading groups and book clubs and blogging and collaborative annotation. We can keep referring to things in the shared reading for days afterwards because we know we shared that experience and can build on that memory. It’s also like watching a movie together versus just watching it independently.

Anyway. Just wanted to share that thought.

And btw, she had seen my old Archie magazines and was curious about them… But i was hesitant because I no longer approve of the values/message (Archie double-timing Betty and Veronica). I say this, and I inherited my love of comics (Archie, MAD) from my dad, and he never censored my reading and I think I started close to my kid’s age. My mom never censored my reading when I started reading romance and thriller novels in my early teens before it was (imho) normal to do so. I used to read comics at bedtime, usually, even though I Al’s read longer stuff by from Roald Dahl, Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High… And also more serious stuff 🙂 So it’s not that I didn’t read longer stuff… Just that comics helped build my love of reading and I could do it for HOURS.

So..yeah…why not? I just need to see what she likes out there that isn’t Archie (and it’s such a waste because I have such a big collection of Archie, which also served to introduce me to American culture, I think, in ways she now gets from TV).

I used to struggle to read Arabic comics as a kid because they used colloquial Arabic, which is usually not written, so I was not used to reading it. But now they’ve made most of it into modern standard Arabic, which is written but not spoken, and she isn’t familiar enough with it to actually enjoy reading it (also without the diatrics marks which tell u which vowel sound to use, which is how mature Arabic readers read but is really quite hard when you’re just starting). So doing it in Arabic might take a bit longer.

Soooo question for you: which graphic novels would you recommend and comics, for a 7 year old who can possibly read something meant for an 8 year old or 9 year old with some help?


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