The Power of Pictures

My kids are visual (or two out of three are).  What does that mean?  It means that they more easily learn things when they can see them, as opposed to hearing (auditory) them or doing (kinesthetic) them.  What does this mean to our homeschooling?  Well, it means a lot of things, but most of all it means that talking at them will not really get my point across. 

We’ve used various resources to address this issue, amoung them computer programs, movies, books with lots of pictures (ala DK and usborne) and posters.  Lately we’ve re-discovered a new resource….graphic novels. 

I say “re” discovered because we’ve read them for years.  M is somewhat obsessed really interested in graphic novels and has been reading them for years but it was only recently I recognised their educational value.  It all started with a Graphic Classics version of Dracula, found at a school book sale. and expanded from there.  To date we have read Dracula, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Frankenstien,  Around the World in 80 Days and Beowulf.  The only thing keeping us from reading more is the money to buy them.

I know some feel that even the abridged versions of classics are not 1. worth their time and 2. a good idea in general and I can only guess how they would feel about what are essentially comic books forms of these stories (and I’m guessing it isn’t posative).  I, however, feel quite differently. 

For one thing it’s been proven that children respond more posatively to a story line they are already familiar with (which brought us the horror that is Dora the Explorer) and for another these books really resound with my visual kids.  B absolutely loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a graphic novel and we plan on moving on to an abridged version this year.  As much as I love Jules Verne (and I do!), I’ll wait a few more years before reading the full length book to B and M.  I would like them to fully appreciate it and since they will already be familiar with the storyline it will allow them to enjoy it more fully. And Beowulf..most kids don’t get to expereince that wonderful story until they are old enough to tackle the Middle English which is just silly to me.  It’s a great story, why not let my kids hear it now, in a form they can actually understand?  We’ve read it in graphic novel, abridged, as a picture book and K has even tackled to original.  Each has been able to assimilate the tale at their own rate.

Even putting aside the “educational” merits of graphic novels there is much to love about them.  They are great for kids with limited ability or desire to read.  The language is not so simple as to be borning to older kids who are late reading bloomers and the pictures will often clue one in to what the words might be so they can helo with sight word accumulation. They are great for visual kids since, you know, they have all those pictures 🙂  Manga (a Japanese form of graphic novels) is a great introduction to Japenese culture.  Plus manga generally comes with age ratings, which are very handy!

Some of them, of course, are quite silly and melodramatic,but probably no worse then the glut of chick lit currently on the market (or “cough”  Twilight) and even they can be good entertainment.  Sometimes you just want something fun, or silly or scary to read.

Speaking of scary….I plan to pull Beowulf out for a Halloween reading this year. 

The one with pictures 🙂


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