Let's stop judging books please.
How many times have you been asked, 'You're reading that book?'
The incredulous expression on the face of the person asking this kind of ridiculous question is all too familiar for many readers, mostly kids. The truth is too many people are so attached to the conventional idea of what 'counts' as a book, and I used to be one of them. I started reading chapter books as a five year old, starting off with Enid Blyton and slowly finding my way to the magical world of middle grade fiction. So, to my brain which had been so conditioned to the idea that reading is all about how many chapters you've finished in a day or how many novels (with pages and pages of printed words) you can read, it made no sense that my sister wasn't too fond of the chapter books that I had grown up on.
Cue the entry of graphic novels. For someone like my sister, who is so immersed in art and loves a good story too, graphic novels made perfect sense. But, now that I think about it, I'm so embarrassed that I was so averse to the idea of a graphic novel. ('But, that doesn't COUNT as a book!') That is, until I decided to see what was so special about this new format that fascinated my sister. The book I chose to read, one of her absolute favourites, was New Kid by Jerry Craft. And I was hooked. Now, enter novels in verse. Another past pet peeve of mine. (Sorry!) Starting off with Jasmine Warga's Other Words for Home, I was so drawn to this new world of books that I had never seen before.
But, let's be honest, of course I had seen these kinds of books everywhere. I just wasn't open-minded enough to understand that it isn't up to me or anyone, for that matter, to judge what kind of books anyone can read. So the next time you catch someone (or even yourself) judging a kid for reading a graphic novel, a novel in verse or even a book that you think is just too short that they 'shouldn't' be reading it at their age, please remind them or yourself that these are important stories too that make some child somewhere feel less alone and more understood.
Here are some of my favourite graphic novels and novels in verse!