When I had to study Hamlet at school and I was introduced to ‘thou’ and ‘art’ and other strange words, I wondered how on earth this could be English and how I was going understand what was going on in the story. It wasn’t easy and I wish I could have had something that could have helped me to understand the story better.
Now I know, when my children have to read a classic story, whether it is Hamlet, Macbeth or even Frankenstein, I would introduce the story to them using a graphic novel. This is not to say that they should not read the original text, because, of course, they need to read it in order to understand the full depth of the story and gets to grips with the literature. However, graphic novel allow for reluctant readers to prepare for what’s to come.
What are graphic novels?
Graphic novels are books written using a comic format, with beautifully illustrated pictures. The pictures really give the reader an idea of the sorts of outfits worn during the period in which the story is set and the types or buildings and settings there would have been at that time. This format would really appeal to our younger readers as it is easy to follow and allows the reader to easily understand what is happening in each story. Graphic novels retell classic stories and our collection includes stories such Romeo and Juliet, Sindbad the Sailor and Ali Baba and Forty Thieves, Othello and As You Like It as well as many others.
How can graphic novels help your child?
As well as helping your child to understand and read these classic stories, that are otherwise quite complex to understand, these novels are a great way to help your child become familiar with the stories before reading the original text. Written in a comic book style, your child will already understand how to follow the story, especially since the stories are mainly written in speech bubbles. Some of the graphic novels also have a list of characters at the beginning of the book so that your child is able to identify them in the story. This can also help if you want to use the book to get a group of children to take it in turns to read, they are able to choose a character they want to be. Once your child has read these books, they would already have established a strong understanding of the stories and they will be well-prepared for studying these stories in depth when they reach secondary school.
Why not try out a graphic novel and enjoy it with your child? Follow the story using the pictures to help and to form points of discussion.
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