Graphic novels to hook the youngest readers

For the past 3 years the graphic novel section of my school library has been the most popular part of the collection. I struggle to keep up with the demand of my readers, especially the kids who will now exclusively read graphic novels. There are heaps of great graphic novels being published, for all ages, and some of the most fun ones are aimed at beginner readers. As you can see from the book covers above, many of them feature two main characters, and the humour in these stories comes from the interactions of the characters. Here are some of my favourite graphic novels for young readers.

Kitten Construction Company series by John Patrick Green

The Kitten Construction Company series are some of the first graphic novels created by John Patrick Green (also the creator of one of my favourite graphic novel series, InvestiGators). In Meet the House Kittens, we meet Marmalade, a cute, adorable kitten who is also a trained architect. She is sick of not being taken seriously, and so with some new feline friends, she sets out to show those ridiculous humans what they’re capable of. In the second book, A Bridge Too Fur, Marmalade and her Kitten Construction Company are in hot demand. Their latest assignment is to build the new Mewburg bridge, but they are forced to get help from a demolition crew of dogs. This series is adorable and seriously funny! The panels are big, there are puns galore and the characters are super expressive. They also read aloud nicely so they’re good ones to share.

Pizza and Taco: Who’s the Best? by Stephen Shaskan

Pizza and Taco are best friends and they have a lot in common. They both love water slides, and they’re both friends with Hot Dog and Hamburger. They can’t decide who is the best though. Maybe they need to have a debate and get their friends to decide. The illustrations are colourful (and make you hungry) and the text is simple but full of humour. Like pizzas and tacos, this is a tasty morsel of a book that kids will gobble up. They’ll be begging for more stories about these two besties.

Narwhal and Jelly series by Ben Clanton

Narwhal and Jelly are two of my favourite best buds. Every time I read one of their stories I grin the whole way through because they’re so adorably silly. Narwhal is bursting with happiness and he’s always super positive (and he’s also rather obsessed with waffles). Each of their books has a handful of stories, as well as some facts about narwhals, jellyfish and other sea creatures. The stories is perfectly pitched for young readers, Ben’s illustrations are simple and fun, and his characters are full of personality. Once you read one Narwhal and Jelly book you won’t be able to stop!

Shark and Bot by Brian Yanish

I know what you’re thinking – a shark and a robot couldn’t be friends. Wrong! Shark has just moved to a new place, all the way from Australia. Being a shark, he has trouble making friends, as anybody he meets just runs away screaming. Bot has trouble making friends too, especially with a blade for a hand. These two unlikely friends become best buds. When some bullies take over the playground, Shark and Bot think like their heroes, the Glo-Nuts, and confront the bullies the only way they know how – with the power of dance. The thing I like most about this graphic novel is that it pokes fun at itself. Shark and Bot’s dance moves had me laughing out loud! Any graphic novel that has step-by-step instructions on how to draw the characters is brilliant in my books, and kids can learn how to draw both Shark and Bot in the back of the book.

Arlo and Pips: King of the Birds by Elise Gravel

I love everything that Elise Gravel has created, so I was super excited to see that she had created a graphic novel for younger readers. Arlo believes that he is the greatest bird in the world. Pips is here to try and prove him wrong. There are plenty of birds more beautiful than Arlo, and Pips can certainly sing sweeter than him. Arlo tries to win Pips over by showing Pips the clever things that he can do, using his larger than average brain. As well has being a fun story, with a bit of adventure and suspense, you learn lots of interesting facts about crows along the way. Elise’s text and illustrations are perfect for beginner readers and the story is full of humour.

Honourable mentions – The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems and the Monkey and Cake series by Drew Daywalt and Olivier Tallec

While these two series aren’t technically graphic novels they are great stepping stones to graphic novels for beginner readers. In both the Elephant and Piggie series and the Monkey and Cake series, the authors and illustrators have two friends tackling a series of problems. There is no narration for these stories, rather it is the interactions of the characters that tell the story. The creators use speech bubbles for the conversations between the characters, there is lots of expression in the characters body language and the text, and the stories are hilarious. Both of these series are great to read together with beginner readers. My daughter and I take a character each and read or act out their parts. I also recommended this idea to a teacher at my school, who was looking for books to read with her 6-year-old son, and this worked brilliantly for her too.

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