Beaufort County Library system
At the library, I meet readers of all different ages and skill levels, but the readers that I often gravitate toward are the ones that shy away from reading. I love working with these kids and families because there is no magic quite like the spark of happiness in a child’s eye when they find THE book--the one that makes them read constantly until they find another book they connect with just as fiercely. I have found that no matter a person’s reading ability, a graphic novel is a great first step to finding their reading niche.
Graphic novels are great tools in your reader’s arsenal. They make comprehension of complex concepts accessible to even the most struggling reader, and they open the pathway for readers to explore ideas and genres that may have been inaccessible for them in text alone.
Below is a list of graphic novels that my colleagues and I have used in school book clubs and have found to be spark-inducing for more than just a handful of kids. I hope this list will help your child find his or her reading spark!
Book 1: Sidekicks by Dan Santant
Captain Amazing is getting older and doesn’t have enough time to save the city and spend time at home with his pets. When it’s decided that he needs a sidekick to help, his pets all want to be considered for the role. When a villain tricks his way into being a sidekick with a gadget that steals Captain Amazing’s powers, it is up to his hamster, his chameleon, and his dog to save the day. Full of pets with superpowers, a villain, food allergies, and camaraderie, this full-color graphic novel is sure to be a hit.
Book 2: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
If your reader connects more with stories about real life, this one may be the spark for him or her. This full-color graphic novel is about twelve-year-old Astrid the summer before she starts junior-high. Her entire life, Astrid and her best friend Nicole have done everything together, but now Nicole has decided to go to dance camp while Astrid goes to roller derby camp. This story about struggling to be your true self, evolving friendships, and perseverance is sure to captivate those going through similar things.
Book 3: Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue by Paige Braddock
If you have a reader that loves learning about science, this may be the book spark for her or him! This comic introduces an unusual group of friends who live in a pond outside of town. The action starts when Cecil the toad is snatched up by a hawk and spots a freeway project that is aimed at the pond. The friends must come up with a plan to stop the construction, but how? With references to animal lifespans, endangered species, and predator instincts this goofy, fun, and quick read is sure to give even the most reluctant reader a giggle. The book is full color and has mini-comics in the back full of animal facts. Bonus: it is the first book of three, so far!
Book 4: Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke
If a meteor fell in your backyard and came with a mysterious red button, would you push it? Zita does, and before she knows it, she and her friend Joseph are whisked away to an alien planet. In the blink of an eye, Joseph is being carried off by an alien with tentacles and a scuba helmet! Adventure ensues as the reader follows Zita’s quest to save her best friend. If your reader loves all things aliens, monsters, adventure, magic, and villainy, this might just be the spark. If it is, there are two more books featuring Zita and her intergalactic adventures.
Book 5: Catstronauts: Mission Moon
In a version of the world where everybody is a cat, earth faces an energy crisis. If nothing is done, the world will be thrust into the dark. The cat president calls upon the world’s best scientist to formulate a plan. He recruits the Catstronauts from the Catsup H.Q. to install a solar energy farm on the moon! Will they be able to travel to the moon and save the earth while fending off catnaps and tuna cravings? This fun story provides a dip into science with many cat jokes for all and even a guest appearance by cat Neil Armstrong. It is full-pastel-color and even better! There are 3 more books in the series. Unlike the other books in this list, this one is broken into chapters, making it even easier for your reader to digest.