Contributed by: Allison Comes, Heather Turner and Andrea Viscusi, Collection Development Team at O²CM School Library System

Lately, superheroes have been the driving force behind box office sales at the movies for people of all ages. Marvel and DC dominate among both new fans and those seeking nostalgia – in part because superheroes represent people of all backgrounds and circumstances.

For K-12 students, the power of superheroes is simple and deeply important: they capture the attention of young readers. Comic books and graphic novels provide an alternative to traditional text-only books that draw in reluctant readers and keep students coming back for more.

Science backs the value of comic books to student readers

What makes comic books so compelling? For one, reading comprehension. A recent study from Taiwan assessing the usefulness of comic books found that this format can foster greater student interest in reading and improve reading comprehension because students can connect pictures to the text to understand the story. For students who are struggling, providing a visual can give better context clues for the plot.

Furthermore, different fonts can help convey different characters’ emotions. And for students for whom English is not their first language, comic books and graphic novels can help provide better overall recall.

Leveraging comic books in the classroom and school library

Some teachers are now adding special comic book and graphic novel units into their lessons, which fit in with Common Core and other curricula. This can include graphic novel alternatives to traditional classroom titles, such as Beowulf.

For visual learners in particular, graphic novels can be a game-changer. Even the colorful language of Shakespeare, which can be difficult for some students to understand, is easier to comprehend when a play like Romeo and Juliet is presented in graphic novel format to ninth grade students.

As librarians, our goal is to engage readers through traditional print, digital books, audiobooks or any other materials that interest students. We want students to come to the library or to use our digital services.

We often see more students checking out certain comic books in tandem with big theatrical releases for franchises like Spider-Man, or the next installments of the Marvel universe. Movies and TV shows are a great way to inspire students to seek more information and stories centered around their favorite characters, achieving an important goal: getting students reading.  In fact, at certain times our schools’ digital checkouts consist of nearly all comic books.

Comics are key to reaching reluctant and enthusiastic readers

We’ve seen students who have trouble staying on task or who are reluctant readers fly through the pages of one comic book after another. Free Comic Book Day, held the first Saturday in May each year, has historically been a success throughout the BOCES.

But now, more students are also turning to comic books in digital form. If students are on hold for a different digital title, they can check out comic books while they wait through our reading app, Sora. Digital comics also appeal to younger students who can independently select books for “Drop Everything and Read” time, as well as older students who might be afraid of judgement for their reading choices.

There’s plenty of research out there to show that comic books and graphic novels are real ways to expand literacy, making them one more valuable tool school librarians can deploy to get students hooked on reading. Whether our readers are having trouble with lengthy novels or simply find pleasure revisiting the characters they know best from television, comic books and graphic novels can open the door to new possibilities.

You can give your readers digital comics right away with the All Access Comics package!

back-to-school checklist: get Magazines and All Access Comics in SoraOur All Access Comics package is available worldwide to schools with Sora . Have you had a chance to take advantage of this affordable simultaneous-use package yet?

  • Available at one price per package, with bundling options for each grade level.
  • Chock full of popular content for the classroom and independent reading, including titles from Marvel, IDW, Disney and more.
  • Every title is reviewed and vetted by a real librarian.
  • Titles are always available, with no holds or waitlists.

Don’t miss out! Get started with All Access Comics today.