Graphic Novels: Can Comics Make Your Kid Smarter?

Researchers found that graphic novels help children understand not only what they are reading in class, but also teach reading comprehension strategies students can use in other types of reading and writing.

Graphic novels are narrative works in which a story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art. These narrative stories have enormous potential in a classroom because they address a wide range of critical literacy skills; e.g., reading, listening, visual representations of concepts.

The researchers of this study examined the connection between graphic novels and reading comprehension strategies. The researchers found that students were able to apply two types of strategies when reading graphic novels. The researchers called these strategies “keys” and “master keys.”

Reading Strategies

The “keys” were considered reading strategies specific to graphic novels such as connecting letter style and format with the emotional element of the story, and analyzing information about the characters derived from facial and bodily expressions.

Children also recognized time change throughout the story. This is due to the visual information that accompanied the text, even though it was not explicitly stated. The combination of elements in graphic novels helped children figure out what was happening throughout the story.

The “master keys” were considered reading comprehension strategies not specific to graphic novels. This includes making the connection between one’s self and the world, rereading for meaning, and making inferences based on content. If children improve the “master keys," these reading strategies are then applicable to broader reading and writing experiences.

The researchers also found that the students appeared to have a better understanding of the storylines when reading graphic novels, and seemed more enthusiastic about learning. Graphic novels are helpful for struggling readers because of the large print and comic-style pictures that illustrate concepts and are becoming more common in classrooms today.

StepUp Summary:

StepUp is based on the neuroscience of attention, memory, and fluency of learned skills. By combining rhythmic exercise with academic drills, StepUp students achieve greater fluency in essential reading skills.  For example, students do fast picture naming and rhyming as they exercise. On-time naming is an important visual-verbal processing skill that indicates mastery of new words and their meanings.

Furthermore, children who perform StepUp exercises develop better coordinated eye movements. Eye teaming (skills controlling how we use and aim our eyes together) are essential for seeing visual detail and for tracking left/right through rows of print while reading.

The StepUp Programs are an engaging way for schools to integrate physical activities that promote both cognitive and motor development. 

Ready to try? Start your 30-day trial of StepUp to Learn now


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