Kids LOVE graphic novels! What’s not to love? Pictures and details and interesting stories to pore over, of course–and now there are so many that have the added attraction of good stories with thoughtful and interesting themes. While some adults continue to bemoan the popularity of comics and graphic novels, here at Lit for Kids, we embrace them. Molly and Jacob, who just turned six, and perfect examples of book-loving, reading-loving, graphic-novel loving early readers. They especially appreciate the chance to go off and read and reread and figure out these books on their own (though you’ll still find them cuddling on Mom and Dad’s and Grandma and Grandpa’s laps to read the comics together). It’s hard to choose which ones to recommend out of so many good ones, so we are just starting with some of our favorites. As we add to our collections this year, we plan to add more lists, so stay tuned!
Polo by Regis Faller
Wordless picture books are terrific for young readers to practice their story-reading skills, focusing on the details of pictures, holding ideas as they turn pages, delighting in a well-told story, and talking about a satisfying plot. The Polo books ( this is the first in a collection of Polo adventures) have the bonus of helping young children see the conventions of comics. The story unfolds almost like film animation, as Polo has many magical adventures across the ocean, around the world, and even into space. Polo, a sweet and clever little dog, has all the resources he needs in his small backpack, which magically can hold everything he needs. Perfect for kids in the 4 to 8 year-old range–though older and younger audiences appreciate it as well.
Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenstiehl
Readers meet feisty little Lily and share her sense of wonder through the 4 seasons. Simple cartoons with a few words tell the story of each seasonal adventure. It’s a wonderful introduction to the conventions of comics, too, with simple panels, bold illustrations, word bubbles, and the added benefit of large print. It’s quite repetitious, which may put off adult readers, but young children appreciate the simplicity and format. Originally written in French, this book is penned by one of the most beloved and famous children’s book authors of France.
Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes, illustrated by Jeffrey Thompson
This Benny and Penny adventure is written in a graphic novel format that is very accessible to young readers. The drawings can only be described as charming, to readers of all ages. Benny and Penny are a little mouse brother and sister duo ( who make very believable children!) When they see they have a new neighbor, Benny becomes convinced that she has stolen his sand pail. Though it’s a “no-no” to go into the neighbor’s yard, they trespass, and a mudpie battle ensues. Just the right combination of slapstick humor–and an underlying theme about apologizing after acting badly. No wonder this book is the winner of the Theordore Seuss Geisel Award!
A Day ay the Fire Station by Lori Mortensen
Another large print, early reader graphic novel that is sure to grab the attention of the young fire-fighter set. Less a story than a tour through “a day in the life of. . .,” this non-fiction comic book shows just what happens when a fire alarm goes off. Perfect for 21st century fire-fighter wannabees with the large images of the GPS systems, maps, and special cameras that show the hidden hot spots.
Owly: The Way Home and Bittersweet Summer, Volume I by Andy Runton
Owly and Wormy live together in the friendly forest in classic “best friend” fashion (a la Frog and Toad) . The books are nearly wordless and depend very much on the graphics, especially Owly’s significant big-eyed looks. Owly is, well, an owl, but he is a gentle and tender soul that grabs at your heartstrings, whether you are an early reader or an adult. And lucky for us, there is a whole series of volumes of Owly stories–5 at last count. Enjoy!
Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye 1: Hamster and Cheese by Colleen Venable, illustrated by Stephani Yue
Sasspants is a guinea pig–and a pet store private eye. She and Hamisher ( a koala-hamster) conduct their inquires throughout the pet store, questioning suspects (like a parrot and the rabbits). Sasspants is a relunctant detective–she basically wants to be left alone. It’s a fun mystery, and the comics panels are quite easy for young readers to follow. Kids enjoy the silly mistakes the animals make, and some of the panels are laugh-out-loud funny.