Graphic Medicine is comic books and graphic novels that cover topics of health and wellness. The visual format makes the information easier to understand and digest. By reading a personal, non-fiction story, we can learn about issues we may not have experienced ourselves. These stories can also help us feel less alone in our own lives.
People who aren’t familiar with graphic medicine often assume that it’s mainly a tool for health communication with kids and teens. When mainstream audiences think about comics and graphic novels, they picture the comics they read as kids (superheroes, romance, teen drama), and may not be aware of the large variety of fiction and non-fiction works written for adults. In fact, a lot of graphic medicine works are primarily focused on communicating with adults with language and illustrations not designed for young audiences. This isn’t as simple as “adult content”, but also references that may go over younger readers heads or don’t resonate with them.
Here are a few examples of graphic medicine works that were written specifically with kids and young adults in mind.
These are just a few examples of graphic novels with health themes written for young people, but many graphic novels for kids and young adults deal with growing up, interpersonal relationships and other mental and physical health issues. Your local library probably has titles already in their children and teen collection that they may not have thought of as graphic medicine or for communicating health issues with kids.
Learn more about Graphic Medicine, including lesson plans for grades 7-10, by visiting the NLM’s website for the traveling exhibit Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived, Well-Drawn. Or request a Graphic Medicine Book Club Kit for your library, school or community group to try.