Getting started with graphic novels: Reluctant readers, struggling readers, and you

Posted on November 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Edmondson

My oldest daughter is an avid reader. However, for a year or so when she had just learned to read and was a good reader, she still hated reading.

As a librarian, my response was—challenge accepted!

I brought home lots of books on topics I knew interested her in a variety of genres and formats—humor, fantasy, non-fiction, real life stories, and finally graphic novels. I didn’t bring graphic novels home last because I had anything against them. I just hadn’t read many and wasn’t sure where to start.

In fact, I think graphic novels can be a great option for kids who are struggling to read or who are just reluctant to read, and I’m so glad that I asked a coworker for recommendations and brought some home.

Graphic novels were what finally turned my daughter into a reader!

Now, skip ahead quite a few years, and she has rediscovered graphic novels. As with many trends, once one kid picks up a book, the rest will follow, and according to her, everyone in her class is reading them. But of course, it’s also true that what the older sibling does, the younger one wants to do too. And that’s where things got a little tricky.

Finding graphic novels that aren’t targeted to tweens or teens can be a challenge. For my youngest, I didn’t want anything too scary or tween and teen angst or all about crushes. I was looking for graphic novels for kids in kindergarten through third grade.

So to help you and your young reader get started with graphic novels, my kids helped me put together a list of graphic novels that are targeted to a younger crowd. If you have a reluctant or struggling reader, I think you’ll find something here to spark their interest.


Barry’s Best Buddy

By Renee French

Polarhog takes his best friend on a walk, but his friend has no idea that Polarhog has a surprise planned. Also check out other titles in the Toon Book series by various authors.

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

By Ben Clanton

A happy-go-lucky, waffle-loving narwhal and a no-nonsense jellyfish forge an unlikely friendship and share adventures while exploring the ocean together. This is first in the series.

Noodlehead Nightmares

By Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss

Twin brothers Mac and Mac are Noodleheads—they have nothing upstairs! This book, by the author of the Fly Guy books, is a collection of bedtime tales inspired by folktales about fools from around the world. This is first in the series.

Sleepless Knight

By James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost

The knight is so excited to go on a camping trip. But when it’s time for bed, the knight’s teddy has gone missing!


The Amazing Crafty Cat

By Charise Mericle Harper

Today is Birdie’s birthday, and Birdie’s panda-riffic cupcakes are beautiful. But then…disaster! A trip and fall on the way to school means no more cupcakes. Who can save the day? This is a job for Birdie’s alter ego…The Amazing Crafty Cat! This book includes fun and simple instructions for do-it-yourself crafting activities and is the first in the series.

CatStronauts: Mission Moon

By Drew Brockington

Alerted to a global energy crisis, the President consults with the World’s Best Scientist, who suggests sending a special group of astronauts to turn the Moon into a solar power plant. This is first in the series.


By John Patrick Green

When the zoo gets too run down, Hippo and his friend Red Panda decide to try and make their way in the human world. So Hippo turns himself into a Hippopotamister! The duo try out a bunch of different jobs, and while Hippopotamister is a good employee, life outside the zoo just isn’t what he’d hoped for.

Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World!

By James Kochalka

Johnny Boo is the best little ghost in the whole world because he’s got Boo Power. This means that he can go “BOO” really loudly. His pet ghost, named Squiggle. has Squiggle Power, which means that he can do really fast loop-de-loops. Together they have the world’s greatest ghost adventures. This is first in the series.

Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens

By John Patrick Green

Marmalade is a trained architect, who also happens to be an adorable kitten. When her plans for the new mayor’s mansion are rejected by the city planner, she finds allies in other aspiring builders, all of them kittens. Can the Kitten Construction Company prove their worth? This is first in the series.

Rick & Rack and the Great Outdoors

By Ethan Long

In this humorous book, Rick the raccoon and Rack the deer spend a day fishing, tracking wild animals, and canoeing on a lake. Also check out other titles in the Balloon Toons series by various authors.

Tiger vs. Nightmare

By Emily Tetri

Tiger is very lucky: She has a monster living under her bed! Every night, the friends play games until it’s time for lights out. Then, when Tiger goes to sleep, Monster scares away her nightmares. But one night, the nightmare is too big. Monster needs Tiger’s help if this nightmare is going to be chased away! Sensitive kids may find the image of the nightmare scary, but my youngest assured me it wasn’t too scary, especially since they succeed in scaring the nightmare away.

Rachel Edmondson

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,