Graphic novels are a fantastic option for emergent and early readers. The illustrations allow for deep comprehension work while decoding skills are developing. Check out these excellent options:
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Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green
The zoo isn’t what it used to be. It’s run down, and Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he’ll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He’s a good employee, whether he’s a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.
Little Robot by Ben Hatke
One of our all-time favorite graphic novels, this delightful and accessible story will captivate kids of all ages. A powerful story of friendship told with very few words.
Bruno & Lulu’s Playground Adventures by Patricia Lakin
We love the pairing of imaginative Lulu and go-go-go Bruno. Their very different dispositions make them great friends and perfect partners in a series of sticky situations.
Gryphons Aren’t So Great by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold
The Knight and her horse Edward are best friends until the Knight gets a pet gryphon. Now Edward is jealous and the Knight is learning that gryphons aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. This is another delightful tale of friendship. Check out the other books in the Adventures in Cartooning series including some kid-friendly instruction manuals on cartooning.
Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight by Ralph Cosentino
This is one of my favorite books for introducing Batman to young children. It is gorgeously illustrated, builds background knowledge about the superhero, and the content is not too violent for little kids. Also be on the lookout for Superman: The Story of the Man of Steel and Wonder Woman: The Story of the Amazon Princess for additional backstories on some of our favorite superheroes.
Owly & Wormy by Andy Runton
Another wordless selection, the Owly & Wormy series are an offshoot of the Owly books. Instead of words, symbols and rebuses fill dialogue bubbles making this a great selection for emergent readers.
The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke
When their parents leave them home alone, Patrick and Erika head to the attic and discover a box clearly labeled DO NOT OPEN. What do they do? Open it of course (!) and let loose a series of zoo animals.
Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller
Entirely wordless, The Adventures of Polo is a captivating graphic novel that follows Polo on adventures through sea, land, and space. The story is enjoyable for kids (and grownups!) of all ages.
Hippo and Rabbit in Three Short Tales by Jeff Mack
As a Reading Recovery teacher, this was always one of my favorite texts to work on with kids. Each short tale is a delightful story and a the book is a great introduction to the graphic novel format.
Benny and Penny by Geoffrey Hayes
Benny and Penny show up in a series of graphic novels each of which is illustrated in a vintage style and contains limited text, but varied word choice. They are funny and the sibling relationship between Benny and Penny is highly relatable. Also be on the lookout for other books in the Toon series including Hearts and Little Mouse Gets Ready.
Bean Dog and Nugget by Charise Mericle Harper
With their simple illustrations and limited text, the Bean Dog and Nugget books are a great introduction to graphic novels. The characters and plot lines are funny and were a big hit with our boys.
Big City Sights by Anita Yasuda
One of many titles in the My 1st Graphic Novel series from Capstone, a wonderful set that are accessible and appealing to early readers as well as older striving readers. Check out the full line up here.
While not strictly graphic novels, I couldn’t finish this list without at least mentioning some of my favorite books with graphic elements. These all on my not to miss list:
Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
Just delightful! Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony will win your heart.
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
Who doesn’t love Piggie and Gerald especially when they see their kids reading Elephant and Piggie books over and over again? Yet another win for the fabulous Mo Willems.