A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about all the reasons why kids reading graphic novels is a great idea. One reason that I want to emphasize – and that I keep talking about with parents and teachers – is that graphic novels inspire many kids to want to read, and wanting to do something is the most powerful motivator there is. Think of graphic novels as the gateway to all kinds of other great stories. For many kids, reading a graphic novel is the first time they read a book cover to cover, the first time a book makes them laugh, gets them excited.
Winter break is a good time to ignite (or remember) the joy of reading. For kids who struggle with reading and schoolwork, a graphic novel can feel like relieving the pressure. For kids who excel at school, the lighter topics that graphic novels often cover can be an opportunity to relax. Consider a trip to the bookstore or library to prepare for the days of winter break, and keep your eyes peeled for these wonderful graphic novels. They also make great holiday gifts for the readers in your life.
For Littles (Kinder-2nd grade)
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton – This is the first in the adorable Narwhal and Jelly series. For kids who like Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggy series, the absurd adventures these two friends have might have a familiar feel. These books include some non-fiction pages about sea creatures, too, striking a balance between whimsy and fact.
For Older Grade Schoolers (3rd-5th grades)
Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack – A young Cleopatra is transported out of history and into the future, where she attends a space academy, makes friends, learns how to be a leader, and saves the universe from the bad guys. This space adventure has plenty of action to keep kids turning the pages (and eagerly reading the rest of the series!).
Hilda & the Troll by Luke Pearson – This book is the first in the lovely series about a curious and creative girl named Hilda who lives in a world filled with magical creatures. The quiet, whimsical charm of these books reminds me of the films of Studio Ghibli. There is also a new Netflix show based on these books.
Dragons Beware by Jorge Aguirre – Who says a girl can’t be a knight? Claudette is determined that no one will tell her what she can’t do, so she sets off with her friend and her brother to find and kill the dragon that took her father’s legs. This story turns many tropes from knights’ tales on their heads, in the best way!
For Middle Schoolers (5th-8th grade)
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson – Middle school can be a tough place for anyone, but for Impy it’s a complete shock. She’s been homeschooled her whole life while living at the Ren Faire with her performer parents. Now, going to public school for the first time, she has to find the balance between being different and finding her people.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale – Shannon and Adrienne meet on the first day of school, and form a fast bond. As they get older, their group of friends grows and the dynamics become more complicated. Hale doesn’t shy away from that complication but, instead, examines the nuances of friendship.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson – When Bina’s friend Austin goes away to soccer camp, she knows she has a long, boring summer of TV ahead of her. But, when she starts hanging out and listening to music with Austin’s sister Charlie, her confidence starts to grow. She meets her musical idols and they encourage her to have the courage to start a band of her own. (Also check out Larson’s graphic novel version of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle it Time).
For High Schoolers (ages 13+)
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – This twist on the fairy tale genre is lovely! Prince Sebastien hires a visionary dressmaker named Frances to create dresses that he can wear out on the town. As both of these characters get to embrace their truest selves, they also form a deep and loving friendship. But, when Prince Sebastien is pressured to take over ruling the kingdom, Frances tries to figure out how she can share her secret work with the world.
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