It’s no secret; teachers, librarians, and literacy experts agree that graphic novels can improve reading comprehension for readers of all ages and abilities. But with all the options, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, our cataloger Shawnna provides some recommendations for graphic adaptations of written works. But wait! There’s more! She also shares a few of her own illustrations! Thank you, Shawnna!

I went to school for one of those “useless” degrees – English, with a minor in literature. My classes focused on (mostly) English literature from a span of literary periods (Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Swift, Austen – you get the idea). I thoroughly enjoyed those classes – and taking notes. Lots of notes. Lots of doodles. Yes, I loved to doodle scenes or characters from the works. My notes would probably be incomprehensible to most: bad handwriting, shorthand, and mostly lots of random doodles. I never did learn to write (or draw) well, but I did get to read a whole lot.

For your amusement. Some of the said doodles: 

I think this is Oberon, King of the Fairies, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Gulliver ignores his family, spends time in the stable talking to his horses in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
Someone from The Turn of the Screw, I guess.  

And even though I enjoy reading “traditional” novels, my preference is for graphic novels.

I love the use of art to tell the story. That’s why my recommendations today are for graphic adaptations of written works. 

Manga Classics 

This is a series of “manga” adaptations of classic works. What I like about these is that they often use text straight from the source — sometimes including the full work. Classic literature can be hard to get into but I think the art helps, especially when the language of the original is outdated or difficult to comprehend for modern audiences. The art is not to my preference for many of these but it gets the job done. 

Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark  

Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark 

Moving on to something quite different. I was not really into Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series too much as a kid, but I did like the first book, Dinosaurs Before Dark, because I love dinosaurs. This graphic version is beautiful. I love the art! The second book, The Knight at Dawn, is getting the same makeover and is due to release later this month.  


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve never read the original, so I can’t make a comparison but I did enjoy this adaptation. The art is good and the pacing is well done. It didn’t convince me to read the original but I am looking forward to the next book.  

That’s just a few of the many graphic novel adaptations that are out there. If you enjoy reading these types of books, try searching by genre “comics adaptations” in the catalog to find even more, including graphic novelizations of different formats such as tv series and video games. 

Is there any work you would like to see adapted into a graphic novel? 

Personally, I’m hoping that someday the Harry Potter series will get adapted into a manga. As with any kind of adaptation, it would be difficult to create something that satisfies all the fans (especially when the fanbase is huge, like for Harry Potter), but I think the series lends itself well to a manga format. Maaaaybe someday!

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