My 10 year old loves comics and graphic novels. LOVES them. I have absolutely nothing against comics - I think they're great and have seen some great works in that medium. But it's all he'll read. He doesn't seem to have the patience, focus and/or willingness to read chapter books at his grade level. The only happy medium seems to be Diary of a Wimpy Kid and others in that style, but as a general rule if it doesn't have pictures on every page, he won't read it.

I don't want to stop him from reading what he enjoys, but I'd also like for him to experience a wider variety of books, and also prepare for some more adult reading which will inevitably come as he gets older and advances in school. I read aloud to him and he enjoys that, it's just the solo reading that he has trouble with. Any advice or good transitional material?

  • 1
    What kind of graphic novels and comics does he read? Anything with the same topic may engage him. Short Story collections come to mind, too.
    – Layna
    Nov 7, 2015 at 23:49
  • 1
    Oh, and could you check the authors of the gaphic novels? Quit a few will be in both graphic novel/comic book scene as well as novels and short stories. Havign an author or two to check out will certainly help!
    – Layna
    Nov 8, 2015 at 0:00
  • Take him to the book store and let him look through the fantasy section appropriate for his age. I'm sure he can find something similar in plot to his comics. And does his school do book fairs? Mine did (in USA) and it was the like the most exciting event all year (in my preteen mind).
    – user7678
    Nov 8, 2015 at 22:46
  • Putting this in as a comment rather than as an answer because I'm not sure how to make it work for your situation, but it might give you ideas. In 1972, I brought home Starship Troopers, and read it while the Chinook helicopters flew over my house for rappelling practice at Currie Barracks (formerly Camp Arthur Currie). Reading about the futuristic bootcamp and troop drops while being withing spitting distance of the modern equivalent got me interested in military scifi, and out of the dinosaurs rut.
    – pojo-guy
    Jun 12, 2018 at 20:37
  • Now five years later, what happened? Dec 3, 2020 at 22:19

7 Answers 7


I'm just going to throw this out there. You say that he enjoys your reading to him. It reminds me of how I got my kids to start reading.

My husband and I read to our kids daily and at also at bedtime, so stories were important to them. But they would only read short storybooks.

For each, I would find books I thought they would like. I would read the first few chapters, and quit when an exciting part came up, saying I'd get back to it (and I would have.) But kids being kids, they didn't want to wait, and read the rest of the book themselves. Soon, they were picking and reading books themselves, and became - for many years - voracious readers.

We continued to read to our kids every day, though, the more difficult stuff. If they really liked it, we tried to find similar stuff at an easier reading level.

My oldest and my third child now read graphic novels. Ha.

  • I really like the cliff-hanger approach. It has the feel of mischievous humor my kids blame on my genes, and it gets the job done - nice.
    – user16557
    Nov 9, 2015 at 14:27
  • I was thinking along these lines, too. She also could agree to read to him only if he will take turns reading pages.
    – Aravis
    Nov 11, 2015 at 15:50

Everything in stages.

You say he loves comics and graphic novels. By their nature, this type of literature is mostly if not entirely graphic. So, your next stage should be graduating him onto slightly less graphical literature. Get him reading books with short chapters where each page is illustrated with an image.

From there, you can move onto books in the middle: slightly longer chapters (chapters are important because they provide logical break points) and slightly fewer pictures. Eventually, following this policy, you'll have him on much longer and wordier books.

The other thing you can do to help is to read with him. By that, I mean you don't read all to him, and he doesn't read all to you - have a book, ask him to read you a page. Something he doesn't understand? Explain it to him - when you're still on partially graphic literature, you can explain it with reference to the image.


When I was 10, most of what I read were comics and graphic novels. I never really developed a "thing" for longer books / novels until I went to college. I read what I was required to read in High School, and that was it.

If you want him to read more or better, try getting him to read good comics and graphic novels. It would help if you guys develop a kind of following to a particular hero or story or universe. That way, he will come to value comic/graphic novel reading as something relevant and valuable for his development, instead of becoming ashamed of it and feeling he is "too dumb for books." This is the real danger.

If you just can't wait to see him transition, then try to get him excited about the idea of storytelling. Short stories could work, but for all I know and judging from my own experience, getting him to read the newspaper can work just as well. This will open a whole new universe of possibility and I'm pretty sure he'll make the transition himself when he feels comfortable. Also, looking for stories with a similar structure or appeal (more epic or fantastic or even action stuff) can help him to smoothen the transition.

  • Try the Warrior Cats series. There are some graphic novels and some text-only novels. Once he starts liking the characters in the graphic novels he may want to find out more. Nov 11, 2015 at 20:10

Just be patient. He's right where he needs to be right now. You don't need to read novels to prepare to read novels. When he's ready for them, he will read them. He's getting plenty of "serious" reading material at school.

However, you might try a technique unschoolers call "strewing." With books, it works something like this. You buy a book you think he might like, but that's outside his usual fare, maybe something like The Hobbit. You read it to yourself where he can see you, make a few comments about how much you're enjoying it, and how it reminds you of when you read it when you were about his age, then when you're done, you just leave it out where he can pick it up if he wants to. It's sort of the playing-hard-to-get of pedagogy.

  • Why did this get downvoted?
    – Kai Qing
    Nov 9, 2015 at 20:21

Plenty of parents would love to have your problem. It's not going to work if you try to dictate to a kid what his taste in books should be. Just be thankful that he likes to read. Most likely his reading interests will diversify and grow in difficulty as time goes on, but that can happen on his schedule.

Since you also say that you appreciate comics, you could look for more intellectually sophisticated comics that you would enjoy yourself. Buy them or check them out from the public library, read them, and leave them around the house where your son could pick one up in an idle moment.

Another possible "gateway drug" into novels would be things like movie novelizations (Star Wars, superheroes, etc.). Those things tend to be less horrible than you'd expect; a lot of the people who write them are quite talented writers who are looking for something lucrative enough that they can quit their day jobs.

I should, however, add one exception to my advice to be permissive. DC sucks. So if he's reading Batman or some trash like that, definitely put your foot down and insist that he switch to something decent like the Fantastic Four.


At an early age children discover their strong and weak points. Being proud about what they can, they will prefer to continue to explore their talents. Children that are good at maths or musical talents are more tempted to focus just on that, and will usually be less interested at reading (and vice versa).

  • You can compensate this by expressing how amazed you are with their reading achievements. Some parents actually pay their children to read, but that's really not a good idea. It will make it seem like they are executing a dirty job.

  • It is a good thing to let your children decide which books to read (be it within their age category). You could go to the bookstore or library together. Ask them what genre they want to read.

One thing is for sure. If they don't read regulary, their reading skills will deminish. And they will even dislike it more.

On the other hand, not being able to read is a terrible thing. But not being able to enjoy reading is not. You can have a great education (e.g. several master degrees) without ever reading fictional books.


Three suggestions:

  • Find books that have similar themes or stories as the graphic novels he enjoys, and explain that the medium of the novel allows for even more detail and nuance and let him use his own imagination more so than having everything drawn for him. But you'd better pick great books that really are richer and more complex than the comics, or he will reach the wrong conclusions about books.

  • Just accept that graphic novels are the format he loves, celebrate the reading, and help him select (that is: give him) challenging, interesting graphic novels to read. Just like with books, you can have graphic novels that are simple and about superficial topics, or those that are challenging and deep. Steer him toward the latter.

  • Keep reading to him, and let him experience the variety of reading material in that activity. If he really enjoys being read to, enough to do a little work to keep that activity going, you can probably coax him into taking turns reading to each other.

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