We’re sharing some of the best graphic novels for kids today! Whether you have a reluctant reader, a child struggling with dyslexia, or just want to make reading more fun for your kids, we hope this list of our favorite graphic novels will help you!
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I know, I know, I’ve heard it: The best thing about books is that the words let the kid’s imagination work to fill in the gaps. And I agree to an extent. So why am I posting about graphic novels – where pictures fill in gaps that might otherwise be filled in kids’ heads? There are a few reasons:
One, there are still a lot of gaps there to fill. We can’t get so caught up about one medium of storytelling that we neglect other forms. Yes, we limit screen time. Yes, we love to see our kids reading books. But imagination isn’t about the presence or lack of pictures. It’s about having a story that you can immerse yourself in, and explore in your mind. And these are some awesome stories.
Two, graphic novels are an excellent bridge for kids who are still building vocabulary and reading comprehension. It’s much easier to spend the time learning words and examining what they mean when you have pictures to help you follow along. We all know this. Every beginner book is filled with pictures, after all. Why stop when they are 5 or 6, when there are amazing books out there to help continue their learning? For one of our own kids with dyslexia, some of these books have been instrumental in keeping him engaged as he grew as a reader.
And three, these are some books that I’ve genuinely enjoyed as an adult. Some have quirky and amazing humor, some great stories, inspiring non-preachy lessons and some even teach the basics of some real world subjects in a way that is engaging and informative.
What do you call an alligator in a vest? An Investigator!
If you found that funny, then these are the books for you. Follow Brash and Mango, field agents of S.U.I.T. (Special Undercover Investigation Teams) as they go on their missions. Read along as they suit up in their V.E.S.T.s (Very Exciting Spy Technology) to solve mysteries and defeat bad guys like the Crackerdaryl, Hookline and Slinker, and the Maestronaut.
But it’s not all pun and games. The stories themselves are hilarious to read as you follow their adventures and the adventures of S.U.I.T. Our kids started reading these several years ago and they’re always asking when the next one comes out. The series is already seven books long with a few spin off “Agents of S.U.I.T.” books to round out your fun.
These two stories by the same author explore family, friendship, and loyalty while immersing us into a world that is strange and new to our heroes, too – all while they have to find where they now belong.
Zita the Spacegirl follows a girl who finds a strange device in what looks like a small meteor. When the device accidentally sends her friend, Joseph, through a portal into the unknown, she has to follow to find him and make sure he gets back safely. The portal takes her to a world of strange aliens and stranger technology, where courage and friendship are the best tools she has to find her friend and make it back home safely. A three part graphic novel series, this story keeps getting better and better.
Mighty Jack is about a boy named Jack (who would have guessed?) and his autistic sister Maddy. Summer times are tough for Jack, because his mother uses the time to get a second job and he is the one stuck watching his sister. One day while at the market, a strange man offers him seeds for his mother’s car. Maddy – who never, ever speaks – tells Jack to do it, and so he does. The seeds, as you may have guessed, are nothing ordinary and change their life. As their new garden grows more dangerous, an unlikely friend and ally is found in a neighbor named Lilly. Together it’s going to take all their wits and bravery to overcome what the garden grows.
As an additional bonus, an extra novel takes place after both stories called Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl, which does an amazing crossover of both stories and characters from each of the series.
The first book of this series came with one of our kid’s KiwiCrates. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we ended up loving it so much, we bought the rest of the series!
It lays down the basics of programming in an easy to understand manner. It follows Hopper, a girl who is newly transferred to Stately Academy, where strange things are happening. She quickly befriends Eni, and the two dive into the mysteries. Why do birds there have four eyes? Why do they normally have only two open? What is with the strange and grumpy janitor?
Before you (or your kids) know it, you’ve explored the idea of binary numbers, basic logic commands, loops, and if-then statements, all in ways that relate to the mysteries the students find around them. It’s a great primer to logic and programming in a way that kids will be excited to use. They’ll have to see if they can solve the programming puzzles Hopper and Eni find themselves getting deeper and deeper into.
These graphic novels (which are based upon books of the same name) follow five young dragons of different breeds who hatched under the stars of prophecy. Fated to end the war and overthrow those evil dragons in charge, they were tucked away for years until they escaped. Now Clay, Tsunami, Glory, Starflight, and Sunny are trying to survive, fulfill the prophecy, and most importantly, find out who they are in the world.
Our kids loved the first five books. Each of them takes the focus of one of the five dragonets as they explore who they are and where they belong, all the while the shadow of the prophecy follows them and they race to survive and be free. The graphic novels make a great addition to the books, or a great primer for any kid who might struggle with reading the full chapter books but love the story.
The classic story, visually displayed. The original graphic novel was published over ten years before Peter Jackson started filming for the Lord of the Rings (let alone the Hobbit movies), so these have their own visual flavor to bring to the story. While you don’t get the songs from the movies, the graphic novel stays on focus with the original story and its great pacing and action. Again a great primer for the story, or visual to add to it.
Usborne is at it again with more awesome books. Their series put both mythology stories like Robin Hood, The Adventures of Thor, The Odyssey, along with classical stories like Hamlet, The Hound of Baskervilles and The Three Musketeers all into graphic novels. Our kids love these books and return to them again and again. They’re a great introduction to the full novels they’ll read when they get older.
Legend of the Star Runner (A Solve Them Yourself Mysteries Adventure)
Now this is less of a graphic novel and more of a whodunit story with pictures that have clues needed to go along with the written part in order to solve the mystery. Follow Timm, Lilly and Marvin as they get to the bottom of each mystery. Every chapter has a question to answer that guides you along the story, and as the novel continues they generally go from easier to more difficult. There are also hints in the back (which unless you can read backwards, require a mirror to decipher) to help you if you are stuck but want to solve it before you read on.
If you just want to enjoy the story, each question is answered in the next chapter, so no need to go to the back of the book each chapter if you don’t want to. But in my opinion solving the problems is where the fun is. It’s also a great way to see kids learn to focus and develop their creativity skills. I’ve had my kids sit around for hours staring at pictures and trying to solve each question, and while they don’t always get the right answer, they certainly stretch their brain and come up with some creative conclusions.
Okay, so this isn’t really a graphic novel. It’s only the Greatest Comic Strip of all time! Seriously, I grew up on these comics. I remember seeing them in the actual newspaper, and having my parents be unsure if they should let me read them because Calvin is undeniably a trouble maker. I remember them relenting and eventually buying the collection books for us to read. I remember being sad when I learned the strip would end.
While some aspects might have become dated (rotary phones and video rental stores have needed an explanation in our household), as a whole it still stands up to the test of time. Bill Watterson certainly had that knack for understanding human behavior and what makes us tick. He also had an imagination that rivals anyone you could imagine. Hobbes is the best sidekick you could imagine and Calvin is more multidimensional than many main characters in movie series today.
My kids love this, I love it, and I can say enough how awesome it is. I had a complete set of the series before I had kids and the kids loved them enough that we eventually had to get a new set. I still find these books out all the time, and while I may get annoyed from time to time that our couch is being used as a bookshelf, I can’t get annoyed that my kids are enjoying such a timeless series like this.
Do you have graphic novels your kids have loved? Or things that have helped your reluctant readers? Let us know in the comments!