Beyond the Pond

Affiliate links

Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler
Grades: PreK-2
Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Our boys were fascinated by Beyond the Pond, and we were captivated by the beautiful language and sense of whimsy Kuefler evoked in his illustrations. When Ernest D. decides to leave his boring home to explore the depths of a nearby pond, he is in for a wonderful surprise. This is sure to become a bedtime regular in our household.

Wordless Picture Books

Wordless picture books are great for children of all ages. They encourage the reader to slow down and notice the nuanced detail which move the plot along.

Wordless Picture Books With No Words

Affiliate links are included. Summaries are from

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
A touching wordless picture book about a little girl, a shiny bicycle, and the meaning of persistence—with an unexpected payoff.

Wordless, timeless, and classic, The Girl and the Bicycle carries a message of selflessness and sweet surprises and makes an ideal gift for graduations and other special occasions.

The Farmer and the Clown by Maria Frazee
A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life!

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, Illustrations by Sydney Smith
In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter. “Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, Sidewalk Flowers is an ode to the importance of small things, small people, and small gestures.

Before After by Matthias Aregui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
Everyone knows that a tiny acorn grows into a mighty oak and a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. But in this clever, visually enchanting volume, it’s also true that a cow can result in both a bottle of milk and a painting of a cow, and an ape in a jungle may become an urban King Kong. Just as day turns into night and back again, a many-tiered cake is both created and eaten down to a single piece. With simple, graphic illustrations sure to appeal to even the youngest of children, this beautiful rumination on the passage of time will please the most discerning adult readers, too.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened.

But the stranger’s fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him?

Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl and the runaway as they each face a journey: one following the North Star, the other following her heart.

Henry Cole’s unusual and original rendering of the Underground Railroad speaks directly to our deepest sense of compassion.

Here I Am by Patti Kim, Illustrations by Sonia Sanchez
Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city. The language is unfamiliar. Food, habits, games, and gestures are puzzling. They boy clings tightly to his special keepsake from home and wonders how he will find his way. How will he once again become the happy, confident kid he used to be? Walk in his shoes as he takes the first tentative steps toward discovering joy in his new world.

Float by Daniel Miyares
A little boy takes a boat made of newspaper out for a rainy-day adventure. The boy and his boat dance in the downpour and play in the puddles, but when the boy sends his boat floating down a gutter stream, it quickly gets away from him.

So of course the little boy goes on the hunt for his beloved boat—and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

This seemingly simply story from Daniel Miyares is enriched with incredible depth and texture that transcend words.

Bluebird by Bob Staake
In his most beautiful and moving work to date, Bob Staake explores the universal themes of loneliness, bullying, and the importance of friendship. In this emotional picture book, readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old.

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett
When a little boy’s prized toy airplane lands on a rooftop, he makes several rescue attempts before devising an unexpected solution.

Rendered in sepia tones and exemplifying a touching message, this wordless story is gracefully open to interpretation, containing a seed of wisdom for every reader.

The Boy & the Book by David Michael Slater, Illustrations by Bob Kolar
In this wordless story, a library book tries desperately to evade the destructive clutches of a little boy. What drives the Boy, however, is enthusiasm and love—not malice—and the Book eventually responds in kind, accepting his rough but worthy fate.


The Boys by
This wordless picture book tells the story of a quiet boy working to overcome his shyness and finding the courage to play baseball with the other kids in the park… With the help of a few old timers from the nearby park bench, our boy is coaxed out of his shell and into the game. Beautifully illustrated, this is the story about the young finding out how much fun it is to live life… And the old finding out how much life there still is to love.

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa
A beautiful wordless picture book about the effects of a flood on a family and their home.

The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller
Equipped with a backpack full of supplies, Polo sets off on a little boat–and on a series of delightful adventures that take him across (and under) the ocean, to an island and a frozen iceberg, to space and home again, with a world of magical encounters along the way. Polo’s journey is packed with incident and expression; 80 pages of seamless, satisfying picture storytelling are perfectly targeted to the youngest reader. Unique, dynamic, and playful, The Adventures of Polo calls to mind the worlds of film animation, comics, and classic books from Harold and the Purple Crayon to The Snowman–and has style, appeal, and substance all its very own.

Pool by Jihyeon Lee
What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.


Before After

Affiliate links are included.

Before After
by Matthias Aregui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
This beautifully illustrated wordless picture book is one of our favorites for so many reasons. It appeals to children and adults of all ages, invites discussion, and encourages close attention to detail. Each two-page spread shows a before and after picture. Some of my favorite pairings include high tide/low tide, gas lamp/electric lamp, octopus/bottle of ink, and cacao pod/chocolate bar. Definitely check this one out!

Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret

Affiliate links are included.

Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
One of our favorites of the year! While accessible to early readers, the theme of this book has much broader appeal. Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are best friends trying to figure out what to play one day but can’t agree. Crafts? No, leaping and scissors don’t mix. Checkers? Nope. Dance kicks might knock over the checkerboard. In the end, sharing their secrets not only helps them find something to play but makes them better friends.

Graphic Novels for 5th and 6th Graders

Kids love graphic novels and we’ve come to love them too. Keep your eye out for an upcoming post on the many benefits of reading graphic novels. In the meantime, check out some of these great selections for our middle-grade students. Bonus: these books are also appealing to older kids who may find reading to be a challenge.

Graphic Novels for 5th and 6th Grade

Affiliate links are included.

Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson
Trying new things, growing distant from old friends, making new friends–this fantastic graphic novel explores common tween themes.

by Svetlana Chmakova
The title says it all. The tween years are awkward and sometimes it’s nice to read about other kids who are also trying to figure things out (and making mistakes along the way).

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust
by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, and Greg Salsedo
After her parents are taken to concentration camps, Dounia is hidden from the Nazis by a network of neighbors and friends. Touching and an age-appropriate introduction to the horrors of the holocaust.

Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
After a series of tragedies hit their family, Emily and Navin enter a fantasy world in an effort to save their mom. While there, the kids learn that Emily is a Stonekeeper and essential to keeping the world alive. This intense series has some sophisticated story lines and themes.

Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks
An entertaining way to learn about the various systems of the human body.

Sunny Side Up 
by Jennifer L. Holm
When Sunny discovers that the grandfather she was sent to for the summer lives in a retirement community things aren’t looking so hot. Fortunately, she meets Buzz and has a great summer with him reading comic books and having adventures. The text is interspersed with a series of flashbacks that explore a family secret and the reason Sunny was sent to Florida in the first place. Spoiler and parent alert: Sunny was sent away since her older brother has become addicted to drugs.

The Dumbest Idea Ever
by Jimmy Gownley
After a series of unfortunate events things are not going well for Jimmy. A dumb idea not only helps him regain his popularity and score a date, but change his life forever.

Kristy’s Great Idea: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #1)
by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier
The Baby-Sitters Club is back! Some of the teachers I work with are more excited than the kids about this series. 

Lost in NYC
by Nadja Spiegelman
A wonderful look at New York City and its transit system through the lens of Pedro, a kid who gets separated from the group during a class trip.

Lowriders in Space
by Cathy Camper
Three friends work on a lowrider in the hopes of winning a big competition. Threaded with Spanish, astronomy, and Mexican subculture.

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue
by Ian Lendler
When the zookeeper goes home for the night, the animals of the Stratford Zoo put on the play Macbeth. What ensues is a funny and kid-friendly take on a classic.

by Raina Telgemeier
For fans of Smile and Sisters, this hit from Raina Telgemeier explores some more mature themes.

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller 
by Joseph Lambert
Much is written about Helen Keller, but this fascinating graphic novel takes a closer look at Annie Sullivan, Helen’s tutor and life-long companion.

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas 
by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
A wonderful compilation about women who have made major advances in our understanding of primates.

You may also like:
Graphic Novels for Little Kids: Grades K-2
Graphic Novels for 3rd and 4th Graders

Graphic Novels for 3rd and 4th Graders

Kids love graphic novels and we’ve come to love them too. Keep your eye out for an upcoming post on the many benefits of reading graphic novels. In the meantime, check out some of these great selections for 3rd and 4th grade students. Bonus: these books are also appealing to older kids who may find reading to be a challenge.

Graphic Novels for 3rd and 4th Graders

Affiliate links are included.


Zita the Spacegirl 
by Ben Hatke
Ben Hatke is one of our favorite authors these days. Maybe it’s because our 1st grader spent 45 minutes glued to Little Robot the first time he opened it and has read it countless times since. Or maybe it’s because Julia’s House for Unwanted Creatures captivated the entire family. Whatever the reason, the Zita the Spacegirl series is another huge hit from this creative genius!

El Deafo
by Cece Bell
Cece’s memoir about growing up deaf is full of experiences kids can relate to while opening their eyes to the challenges that face deaf kids in a hearing world.

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth 
by Judd Winick
Hilo has been a big hit in our household recently. When DJ stumbles upon a boy who has fallen out of the sky, he and his best friend, Gina, must help him adjust to life on Earth and oh yeah… save the Earth from creatures from Hilo’s home world who are coming after him.


Comics Squad: Lunch! edited by Jennifer L. Holm
The second installment from the Comic Squad team tackles lunch time in all of its wacky, wild, and hilarious chaos. The Comic Squad books are a great way to explore various comics’ styles.

Fable Comics
by Charise Mericle Harper
Twenty-eight fables told  by twenty-six different illustrators. The mix of styles and interpretations is interesting and engaging.

by Raina Telgemeier
Based on her real-life experiences, this memoir recounts Raina’s experiences dealing with the ups and downs of tween life as she undergoes a series of trying and embarrassing dental procedures (think surgery, head gear, and dentures).

by Raina Telgemeier
Another winner from the author of Smile and Drama, this installment explores the complex relationship between sisters.

Bird and Squirrel On the Edge 
by James Burks
The most recent installment of the Bird and Squirrel series follows the unlikely pairing of scaredy-cat Squirrel and happy-go-lucky Bird as they go on a road trip, escape Cat, and make their way home.

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde by Frank Cammuso
This funny series follows Salem Hyde, an impulsive and independent witch along with her over-anxious cat, Whammy.

Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! 
by Stephen McCranie
Another unlikely pairing, this time Mal, a kid genius, and Chad, a talking dog. This humorous duo love adventure.

Squish #1: Super Amoeba 
by Jennifer L. Holm
Who knew that a comic-book loving, bully-avoiding amoeba could be so endearing? Don’t miss this series from the author of Sunny Side Up.

Soccer Longshot
by C.J. Renner, Andres Esparza, Fern Cano, and Aburtov
One of many Sports Illustrated for Kids Graphic Novels, this series is highly engaging for our little sports fans. Check out the full list of titles here.

Secret Coders
by Gene Luen Yang
I want to go to Stately Academy, a school filled with clues and puzzles. Students use their problem solving and coding skills to solve a big mystery.

You might also be interested in:
Graphic Novels for Little Kids: Grades K-2
Graphic Novels for 5th and 6th Graders

Graphic Novels for Little Kids: Grades K-2

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:

Graphic Novels for Little Kids

Affiliate links are included. We recommend purchasing from an independent book seller or Scholastic Reading Clubs so your child’s teacher receives points to buy books for the classroom.



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.

Petal and Poppy by Lisa Clough and Ed Briant
This endearing series follows two friends through a series of adventures. The story lines are surprisingly sophisticated.


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.