Student Snippets


Picture Books and Graphic Novels

Picture Books. At some point in our lives, we're all told that we need to move on. We need to read "at our age level", whatever that means. As a future children's librarian, I'm required to take two different classes centered solely on the picture book. So why do we encourage young readers to move beyond such amazing and poignant book forms?

Picture books can be a lot of different things. There can be no words (but still have a very meaningful story). There can be a lot of words (have you ever looked at illustrated fairytales? sometimes those have a lot of words!).

But one thing we're usually taught as we grow up is that picture books and graphic novels are totally different forms. Usually we're taught that in high school by someone who reads graphic novels or maybe by teachers who are open to graphic novels as a form.

The ALA Youth Media Awards kind of brought the question of graphic novels to the foreground.

First of all, congratulations to all the winners and honored books! And, I'm happy to say, several graphic novels received awards this year. But there's two I think are really relevant to this conversation.

This One Summer received a Caldecott honor. Caldecott honors are reserved for books "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children" (Caldecott website definition). This One Summer is a graphic novel, and according to Amazon, aged for teens 12-18. This One Summer is the first graphic novel to be awarded a Caldecott honor. I'm always excited when graphic novels win awards, but for this particular case, I have to question whether it should have been awarded it or not.

On the other hand, El Deafo by Cece Bell received a Newbery honor. Newbery's by definition are given "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" (Newbery website definition) . El Deafo is also a graphic novel and aimed, again according to Amazon, at ages 8-12. Those qualifications seem to fit the Newbery requirements exactly.

Again, I love graphic novels. I'm so happy for all award honors and winners. However, I think This One Summer's honor does open up some complicated questions regarding the Caldecott award and what qualifies. I'll be looking forward to seeing how this affects future winners!

All the Best -- Hayley