Last year I wrote A Guide to Comics, Webcomics, and Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers. My initial article was more of a beginner’s guide to the comic format, rather than a comprehensive list of recommendations; so in this article I’d like to focus more on the books, and less on format. There are so many graphic novels and comics getting published for kids right now. It’s very exciting, but finding the right book for the right kid could become murky, because like I said: there are a lot of options out there.
But options are great. Options lead to an armful of books checked out from the library. Options lead to a love of reading. Comics are a gateway into the reading world. They show kids that reading is not meant to intimidate; that reading can be exciting, and can be just as transporting as a video game.
“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or conversation?” (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
Also, remember: summer is coming…
Early reading books already contain pictures, but some kids may look at a page of words and think something along the lines of NO WAY; so what I would recommend for early readers (grades K–2) is TOON books. I mentioned TOON books in my last article, but I will once again list these books as a great resource for any teacher or parent who is trying to encourage a struggling or reluctant reader. An added bonus for educators: TOON books align to Common Core standards—plus, and even more important, kids love them.
Some great TOON books to get you started:
Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith
The Dragon Slayer: Folktales From Latin America by Jaime Hernandez (this is available in English and Spanish)
Good Night, Planet by Liniers
Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim (This is not a TOON book): Two Korean children search for their missing grandfather, and on their journey encounter creatures from Korean folklore.
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch, Jake Richmond
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey: Kids love Dav Pilkey. Whether it’s Dog Man or Captain Underpants, kids are drawn to Dav Pilkey’s books like a moth to a flame.
Giants Beware! (Chronicles of Claudette #1) by Jorge Aguirre, Rafael Rosado
Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl #1) by Ben Hatke: Zita’s best friend is captured by aliens, so Zita rushes to the rescue. Now she must find a way to survive on a new planet, and find her friend.
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat (Ottoline #1) by Chris Riddell: Ottoline Brown and her best friend Mr. Munroe solve mysteries in this wonderful graphic novel series.
CatStronauts: Mission Moon (Catstronauts #1) by Drew Brockington: The kids at school love this book. I’ve never read it, but I trust their judgment. Basically, a group of cats have to go to the moon to save mankind. I think that sounds great.
Mega Princess by Kelly Thompson, Brianne Drouhard M. Victoria Robado Warren Montgomery
Awkward (Awkward #1) by Svetlana Chmakova: Sometimes the hardest part about school is fitting it. Peppi just wants to keep her head down, but when she bumps into a boy in the hall, everything becomes more complicated.
Sidekicks by Dan Santat: Captain Amazing is so busy being, well, AMAZING that he doesn’t notice when his pets develop their own super powers. So when he opens auditions for a sidekick, his pets all decide to try out.
The Batman Adventures, Vol. 1 by Kelley Puckett, Martin Pasko Ty Templeton Rick Burchett, Brad Rader Mike Parobeck
Superman Family Adventures, Vol. 1 by Art Baltazar, Franco: Like The Batman Adventures, this is a more appropriate Superman for a younger audience.
Young Marvel: Little X-Men, Little Avengers, Big Trouble by Skottie Young: I love Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland comic, so I’m not surprised that he is responsible for creating a comic book about the Marvel superheroes when they’re babies.
Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 1 by Sholly Fisch, Darío Brizuela Franco Riesco Heroic Age Saida Temofonte Deron Bennett
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson: Like Raina Telgeimeier, I love Victoria Jamieson. When kids (especially girl) go to the school library, these are the books they check out. They’re bright and cheerful, and about girls overcoming obstacles. All’s Faire in Middle School is equally as good as Roller Girl!
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill: Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, learns to care for tea dragons (adorable).
Dogs: From Predator to Protector by Andy Hirsch: This book answers a question that I constantly ask myself: how in the world is my very small fluffy dog a descendant of wolves?
Here’s a list from fellow Book Riot contributor Chelsea Hensley who created a more comprehensive list of graphic novels for middle grade readers.
Goliath by Tom Gauld: A reimagining of the Bible story of David and Goliath. Tom Gauld’s writing and illustrations have an aspect of melancholy that is both endearing and tragic.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: While Prince Sebastian’s parents are busy trying to find him a suitable wife, Sebastian is taking Paris by storm as Lady Crystallia. Frances, Sebastian’s best friend and dressmaker, dreams of greatness, but is burdened with her friend’s secret. Will they both be able to find happiness and achieve their greatest dreams? The ending to this graphic novel was perfect.
Afar by Leila del Duca, Kit Seaton
The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis #1–4) by Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa Blake Ferris Anjali Singh
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani: A story about India, identity, and family. I loved the illustrations.
Koko Be Good by Jen Wang: This is a story about finding your purpose, and what it means to be “good.” By the same author of The Prince and the Dressmaker.
I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, John Jennings Stacey Robinson
Kim Reaper Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings by Sarah Graley: While at University, Kim gets a part-time job to help out with expenses, but unlike most college students, Kim gets a job as a grim reaper.
The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag: In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted…and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.
Malice in Ovenland: #1 by Micheline Hess: Lily Brown didn’t want to do chores, but little did she know that cleaning the oven would lead to adventure.
Aya (Aya #1) by Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie Alisia Grace Chase, Helge Dascher Tom Devlin
Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis: This is a webcomic that debuted in 2014. It started as five young women in college who find out that they are responsible for protecting not only this world, but its sister dimension. The characters grow, the the storylines splinter as the years go by, but altogether this is a great (free!) comic.
The Backstagers, Vol.1 by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta- Nehisi Coates: An important comic. Also, a great comic.
The Vision, Vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King: I love the Vision. The Vision just wants to be human and have a family, but fitting in when you possess extraordinary powers can be complicated.
Groot by Jeff Loveness, Brian Kesinger Declan Shalvey Jordie Bellaire
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson: Kamala is an ordinary teenage girl, until she is empowered with superhero abilities. Now, instead of the usual identity crisis experienced by teenagers, Kamala must also contend with her new identity, or rather: her secret identity as the new Ms. Marvel.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North , Erica Henderson
America, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera , Joe Quinones
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, Vol. 1: Anchor Point by Kelly Thompson, , Leonardo Romero Jordie Bellaire Julian Totino Tedesco
Patsy Walker, A.K.A Hellcat by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams: Patsy Walker has been to hell, but now she’s back on earth, and life is hard. She’s dealing with three different identities, her mother, and dating.
I hope this can be an aide to any person trying to bestow a love for reading on our younger generation!
Also In This Story Stream
- Graphic Novels that are Pretty Enough to Frame
- Interview with Ben Hatke, Author and Artist of MIGHTY JACK
- Interview with Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, KNIFE’S EDGE and COMPASS SOUTH Team
- Exclusive Art Reveal and Excerpt of THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER