Comics Newsletter

More Comics and Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers

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Sarah Ullery

Staff Writer

Sarah suffers from chronic sarcasm, and an unhealthy aversion to noise. She loves to read, and would like to do nothing else, but stupid real life makes her go to work. She lives in the middle of a cornfield and shares a house with two spoiled dogs and a ton of books.

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 Reader

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:

TOON books

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.

Middle Grade


Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch, Jake Richmond (Colorist): There’s only one things Mirka wants: to fight dragons! A very good graphic novel about family, tradition, and imagination.

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 (Illustrator): Claudette’s greatest wish is to slay a giant, but she lives in a quiet, peaceful (boring) village, so what will this aspiring giant killer do? Well, if a giant won’t come to her village, she’ll go to the giants.  

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

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.


Sunny Side Up and Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (illustrator): in the first book Sunny has to spend her summer with her Grandpa in a Florida retirement community. In the second novel, Sunny is starting middle school. 

Dawn and the Impossible Three by Gale Galligan, Braden Lamb (Colorist), Ann M. Martin: This is the newest installment in the reboot of the Babysitters Club. Gale Galligan has taken the reigns from Raina Telgemeier (one of my absolute favorite graphic novel authors) in reimagining Ann M. Martin’s beloved Babysitters Club novels. I was never a huge fan of the Babysitters Club when I was young, but I love these new books.


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 (Illustrator), M. Victoria Robado (Colorist), Warren Montgomery (Letterer): This book is all kinds of cuteness. Max just wants to be a detective, but unfortunately, she is imbued with all the powers of every princess that has ever lived. Damn. 

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 (Illustrations), Rick Burchett, Brad Rader (Illustrations), Mike Parobeck (Illustrations): If you’re looking for a classic superhero comic appropriate for younger elementary kids, this is it.

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 (Illustrations), Franco Riesco (Colorist), Heroic Age (Colorist), Saida Temofonte (Letterer), Deron Bennett (Letterer): Scooby and the gang team up with Batman and Robin to solve mysteries. That’s every kind of awesome. 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos (Illustrator): Lunella Lafayette is an inhuman preteen genius who wants to change the world.





 Stand Alone:

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.

Young Adult

Stand Alone:

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 (Illustrator): Boetema comes into possession of great powers, but as the old saying goes: with great power comes great responsibility. Boetema and her brother must work together to fix the mistakes they’ve made.  

marjane satrapi complete persepolis

The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis #1–4) by Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa (Translator Part 1), Blake Ferris (Translator Part 2), Anjali Singh (Translator, Parts 3 and 4): A great memoir about growing up in a time of war and upheaval in Iran. A true classic. 

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 (Illustrator), Stacey Robinson (Illustrator): This is a book that deals with hard issues including police brutality, grief, and racism. 






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 (Illustrator), Alisia Grace Chase, Helge Dascher (Translator), Tom Devlin (Letterer): “That’s what I wanted to show in Aya: an Africa without the…war and famine, an Africa that endures despite everything because, as we say back home, life goes on.” —Marguerite Abouet

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 (Illustrations): You will find a character to love in this graphic novel! This is about a boy who moves to a new school, joins a stage crew, and finds a group of wonderful friends.  


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 (Illustrator), Declan Shalvey (Illustrator), and Jordie Bellaire (Illustrator): Rocket and Groot get separated while on a road trip, and now Groot is on his own. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, this is a more light-hearted superhero story. 

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 (Writer), Erica Henderson (Artist): Squirrel Girl is finally having her day in the limelight. Too long has she lived in obscurity! There are many pitfalls to Marvel’s dominion at the box office, but revitalizing characters like Squirrel Girl is not one of them!

America, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera (Writer), Joe Quinones (Illustrator): America is busy. She used to be part of the Young Avengers, she leads the Ultimates, and now she wants to go to college. On top of all her responsibilities, she also has to defeat a few monsters and an alien cult…you know; no big deal!

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, Vol. 1: Anchor Point by Kelly Thompson,(Writer), Leonardo Romero (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colourist), Julian Totino Tedesco (Cover Artist): Hawkeye. No, not Hawkguy Clint Barton, but his more talented partner, Kate Bishop. Kate’s solo, and guys—she totally kicks ass.  

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!