Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels seem a natural match for the elementary school child with autism. They have lots of pictures to show what is happening and the text usually stays at a simple level. But many can be very cluttered and concepts can range in complexity from basic to truly bizarre. The style of illustration also varies from the representational to the highly stylized.

My son has no trouble with the fantastical (Dr. Seuss was his favorite ages 5-7), but the murky gives him difficulties.

The ones that work best for my child are those meant to help struggling readers. Several publishers have,
or have had, a series of this sort.

Stone Arch Graphic Spin series of graphic novels is specifically designed for reluctant and struggling readers.
The style of the books is very contemporary, a look associated with more sophisticated content. However, the stories
are the familiar ones and easily understood by young readers.
Titles include:
Beauty and the Beast
Snow White
Hansel and Gretel

Nantier Beall Mnoustchine has no over arching style so it depends on the illustrator
The Princess and the Frog (Eisner, very cartoonish)
Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows (Michael Hassle, Picture Book look)
Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (Russell, 1940s adventure comics style)

There are of course, a plethora of graphic novel offerings for kids. But many just don't work for my nine year old child.
This does not mean they won't work for yours, or perhaps for your older child. But it is worth noting two that I thought
might work and why they didn't:

The Tale of Despereaux Graphic Novel - cluttered, relies on sophisticated empathetic understanding
Hardy Boys #1 - advanced concepts about spying and government institutions

One of the neat things about graphic novels is that your school age child looks age appropriate reading them, and can
talk about them with others if s/he wants to do so.

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