When I’m asked how to get children interested in reading who say they don’t like to read, my first answer is usually to try a graphic novel. Graphic novels for early readers help to build confidence, interest, and stamina in reading. They worked like magic with my oldest son and I’m forever grateful.
And, there are so many amazing choices on the market with more and more publishing imprints popping up each year. Graphic novels are making a big splash with beginning readers all the way into adulthood. In fact, our library now has a whole aisle dedicated to this popular genre.
So here are some of our favorite graphic novels for kids that are especially helpful to new beginning readers.
Graphic Novels for Beginning Readers
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One of the neat things about graphic novels is that kids know who is talking because of the speech bubbles. Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli not only use speech bubbles, but they are color-coded based on who is speaking. Baloney is our main character with three friends- Peanut, Bizz, and Krabbit. In fact, the first part of the book is all about introducing us to the characters (super helpful to new readers.) There are three stories in the book sandwiched with mini-comics. Baloney and Friends: Going Up! will be the second book publishing in the spring of 2021.
Scholastic has an amazing line of readers for new readers that have a graphic novel format. A few of our picks are Hello, Hedgehog! by Norm Feuti and Fox Tails by Tina Kügler. Again, the use of colored text speech bubbles makes it easy to navigate for new readers.
Pizza and Taco: Who’s the Best is an easy reader graphic novel and the first in a new series by Stephen Shaskan. It’s a good pick for new readers with short easy chapters, lots of speech bubbles, plenty of humor, and tons of kid appeal.
Pure silly nonsense fun is what kids will discover in Banana Fox and the Secret Sour Society by James Kochalka. There is a case to crack but will Banana Fox be the one to solve it? Lots of action and antics to be had.
Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song is an adventurous look at some determined squirrels looking to score some donuts from the donut truck. In the process, they help the donut maker invent a new type of donut. The first in what will probably be a Norma and Belly series.
Owly Just a Little Blue is the second book in the Owly series by Andy Runton. Owly discovers a new bluebird and decides to build a home to help it. It’s not an easy task to build or to make friends with the new bird family. But, Owly is determined and kind. The first book in the series is Owly The Way Home.
Inspired by a show on Japanese bugs when she was a child, author Laura Knetzger, started to doodle beetles. Years, later those creatures come alive in her graphic novel Bug Boys. Rhino-B and Stag-B go on lots of adventures in their community and share a little science along the way. Bug Boys is the first in the series.
Fox & Rabbit by Beth Ferry is a sweet graphic novel series about friends. In book one we meet the easy-going Fox and his anxious friend Rabbit. These two may be opposites but they make great friends. Where will their adventures take them?
Pea, Bee and & Jay by Brain “Smitty” Smith is the story of three new friends. Pea has rolled off the farm and meets Bee and Jay. The three quickly become friends and work together to get back on the farm. Stuck Together is the first in this new series.
Chick & Brain Smell My Foot by Cece Bell is laugh out loud funny. Brain thinks he’s pretty smart but he has a lot of miscommunication with Chick which what makes this whole graphic novel side-splitting funny. This is book one in the series.
Birds seem to be a thing in graphic novels. Up next is Arlo & Pips by Elise Gravel. Arlo is the arrogant crow and Pips is the sarcastic little bird. Lots of banter and a friendship takes flight from there. This is the first in a likely series.
Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur by John Patrick Green combines two loves of many children- cute cats and dogs and construction zones. This one is the second in the series with hopefully more to come. The author also has another fun graphic novel series called InvestiGators.
Team Taekwondo by Master Taekwondo Lee. The whole series uses martial arts to teach positive character traits in a graphic novel format. Win, win, win! Unfortunately, there are only three books in the series.
Meet Peter & Ernesto and all of their friends in Peter & Ernesto by Graham Annable. They are sloths. They find adventures. They look out for each other. They have some communication issues. They are funny! What more could you want?
The book here is book number three and the newest one in the series. We’ve enjoyed the entire series.
Next Step Up
These graphic novels are a bit longer and a bit harder taking you to the next level in your graphic novel journey.
Grumpy Unicorn Hits the Road by Joey Spiotto is the story of a bored unicorn who decides to hit the road on an adventure without anything to annoy him. Is this possible? This is the follow-up book to Grumpy Unicorn.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey has turned millions of children into readers and a thirst for reading. Pilkey has the magic touch for knowing what appeals to kids and kids will be waiting eagerly for the next new release in the series.
Dog Man is half dog and half man but all cop. He can get into some trouble, but he’s got an awesome heart.
For a cat variation of the Dog Man series, try the new Max Meow by John Gallagher.
Speaking of cats…Meet the CatStronauts by Drew Brockington. Yes, space cats on missions to space. Yes, please! So much humor! Mission Moon is the first in the series.
Also, try Binky the Space Cat by Spires that has a similar feel to Catstronauts.
Bird & Squirrel by James Burks gets two big thumbs up from my kids. This is a super fun series of friends and family, facing our fears, trying new adventures, and looking out for each other.
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre is the first in the Chronicles of Claudette series. Claudette dreams of slaying a dragon but she lives in a pretty quiet community. Will she get her chance for adventure? You bet she will!
My wish… I would love to see more female characters in graphic novels for beginning readers. If you discover some, let me know.
Don’t just think of graphic novels as a stepping stone though. Many children will want to read graphic novels into adulthood. Let children choose what they read. Don’t take the graphic novels away.
Printable List of Graphic Novels for Beginning Readers
Grab a copy of the list above to take to the library below.
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