Graphic Novels for Early Readers
Graphic Novels for Early Readers

Intro

WHY GRAPHIC NOVELS ARE GREAT FOR EARLY READERS

If you’ve been following beginning reader books on this site for a while, you already know what a huge fan I am of graphic novels for early readers.

Graphic novels are arranged like comic strips.  They tell a story visually, in panels, but are the length of a book.  The images tell the story in a sequence so that even without words, or with very few words, the story makes sense.

In the case of the books in this list marked with a Kindergarten reading level, there are extremely few words, or possibly some sounds.  These stories teach beginning readers the left to right reading format.  Early readers learn to decode stories based on illustrations as clues to word context.   Readers are exposed to character and plot development that exceeds their reading level.

As the reading level goes up, so do the number and difficulty of words in the story.  Still, words are kept to a minimum, so that the story relies heavily on images to convey meaning.  This can be super rewarding to beginning readers.  They are able to independently read a story with depth and richness.

Of course the hard work of sounding out words, moving on to longer sentences, and paragraphs must be done.  But as part of the process of learning to read, graphic novels are excellent motivators and confidence boosters.  In comparison to the story complexity of many traditional-format beginning readers, graphic novels convey more compelling stories as a reward.  They are a great bridge from carving out those first reading skills to the wondrous and life-changing novel-length books that are just around the corner in 4th grade and beyond.

SERIES BOOKS

Within the list below, you’ll find many books that are part of a series.  Finding a series that your beginning reader kiddo enjoys is gold!  If you discover a set of characters, a style of writing, and a level of text complexity that suits your early reader, a great series can multiply the payoff of all that effort you put into finding a book for your child.  Also, familiarity and anticipation for reading another book in a beloved series can be a great motivator for readers. 

The following books are part of a series: Owly, Zita the Space Girl, Benjamin Bear, Babymouse, Benny and Penny, and Hilda and the Stone Forest.

A COUPLE OF CLASSICS, BUT MOSTLY NEW BOOKS

This website is mainly dedicated to sharing newer books for kids.  This is because after leaving my position as a librarian, I found a lot of information on the web about classic kid's books, but not much about the amazing new books that I used to discover while working at the library.  That's what inspired me to put this website together.

This list has a few older graphic novels, such as Owly and Zita the Spacegirl (you'll notice the publication dates near the book title), that I couldn't resist adding to this list!  They're just so good.  I promise, they won't feel dated when you and your child are reading them.  

The rest of the books are new, and have won praise from critics and readers.

 

 Seeing stars?  Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books.  More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding. 

Owly Book Cover
Owly, Vol. 1: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer
Approximate Reading Level: Kindergarten
by Andy Runton
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 30, 2004

Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who's always on the lookout for new friends and adventure. The first graphic novel in the series contains two enchanting novellas, "The Way Home" & "The Bittersweet Summer," wherein Owly discovers the meaning of friendship, and that saying goodbye doesn't always mean...READ MORE

Stinky Book Cover
Stinky: TOON Level 2
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Eleanor Davis
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 1, 2008
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

A Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book.

Stinky is a monster who loves pickles and possums but is terrified of people. This hilarious and heartwarming story by ferociously talented cartoonist Eleanor Davis proves that even monsters can make new friends . . . warts and all!READ MORE

Zita the Spacegirl Book Cover
Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl Series Book 1)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Ben Hatke
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: February 1, 2011
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Zita's life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking...READ MORE

Benjamin Bear in Brainstorms Book Cover
Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms!: TOON Level 2
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Philippe Coudray
illustrated by Francoise Mouly
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: April 14, 2015

Praise for Philippe Coudray's Benjamin Bear series:

"A visually formatted joke book to inspire thinking as well as laughs."—Kirkus Reviews

"A marvel of economy in setup, delivery, and payoff."—Booklist, starred review

"This book rewards what six-year-olds are already good at (scrutiny), encourages a new skill (reading), and enlarges the imagination...READ MORE

Little Robot Book Cover
Little Robot
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Ben Hatke
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 1, 2015
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it's all up to a...READ MORE

Flop to the Top Book Cover
Flop to the Top!: TOON Level 3 (Toon Books)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Eleanor Davis
illustrated by Drew Weing
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 8, 2015
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

 

In this modern-day fable, Wanda calls her brother and sister "fans," keeps up with celebrity news, and never misses a chance to share a selfie. She's ready to show the world how Wanda-ful she really is, but all people are interested in is . . . her dog! Superstar...READ MORE

Second Grade Beginning Reader - Written and Drawn By Henrietta Book Cover
Written and Drawn by Henrietta: TOON Level 3 (Toon Books)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Liniers
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 29, 2015
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly Star ImageHorn Book

When Henrietta's mother gives her a box of colored pencils, she sets out to draw a terrifying and fantastic adventure.READ MORE

The Great Pet Escape Book Cover
The Great Pet Escape
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Victoria Jamieson
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: February 16, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist

The class pets at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School want OUT . . . and GW (short for George Washington), the deceptively cute hamster in the second-grade classroom, is just the guy to lead the way. But when he finally escapes and goes to find his former partners in crime,...READ MORE

Treat Book Cover
Treat
Approximate Reading Level: Kindergarten
by Mary Sullivan
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: March 1, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

As the old saying goes, “Give a dog a ball, and he'll beg to play for days. But give a dog a treat, and he’ll never stop begging.” 

In this companion to Mary Sullivan's Geisel Award-winning Ball, there's a new dog in town and he is focused on finding a treat,...READ MORE

I Am Pan Book Cover
I Am Pan!
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Mordicai Gerstein
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly Star ImageHorn Book

Mischievous from the moment he emerges howling and screeching from his mother's womb, Pan, god of the wild, creates pandemonium wherever he goes. Noise and confusion follow him as he steals arrows from Artemis, conceives panic, tricks the moon into falling in love with him, and saves the world from...READ MORE

Little Dee and The Penguin Book Cover
Little Dee and the Penguin
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Christopher Baldwin
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers,
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
Published: April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Graphic novel fans will love this hilarious animal adventure by webcomic creator Christopher Baldwin—perfect for readers of Dan Santat’s Sidekicks, Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl, and Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County

When Little Dee meets a motley crew of animals deep in the forest, she knows she’s found the perfect set of new friends....READ MORE

Babymousee Goes for the Gold Book Cover
Babymouse #20: Babymouse Goes for the Gold
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Jennifer L. Holm
illustrated by Matthew Holm
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: April 12, 2016

Winner of the Eisner Award and multiple children’s choice awards and with over two million books sold, kids, parents, and teachers agree that Babymouse is perfect for fans of Junie B. Jones, Ivy and Bean, Bad Kitty, and Dork Diaries! 
 
Babymouse has big dreams . . . and...READ MORE

The King of Kazoo Book Cover
The King of Kazoo
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Norm Feuti
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: July 26, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Scatterbrained Cornelius, King of Kazoo, and his resourceful daughter, Bing, explore a mysterious cave at the top of Mount Kazoo. There they discover a famous alchemist named Quaf is planning a dangerous and forbidden experiment. Now Cornelius, Bing, and the brilliant royal inventor Torq must go all out to stop...READ MORE

Dog Man Book Cover
Dog Man: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man Book 1)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Dav Pilkey
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: August 30, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star ImageBooklist Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Publisher's Weekly

New from the creator of Captain Underpants, it's Dog Man, the crime-biting canine who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!

George and Harold have created a new hero who digs into deception, claws after crooks, and rolls over robbers. When Greg the police dog and his cop companion...READ MORE

Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye Book Cover
Benny and Penny in How To Say Goodbye: TOON Level 2
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Geoffrey Hayes
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 13, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist

Why won't Benny help? Penny found a dead salamander, but her brother Benny is refusing to help her bury it. Is it silly to hold a service for Little Sallie, or could this tiny salamander mean something more to the siblings? Geisel Award–winner Geoffrey Hayes shares this gentle tale of...READ MORE

Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World Book Cover
Ape & Armadillo Take Over The World: TOON Level 3 (Toon Books)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by James Sturm
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 13, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Star Image School Library Journal

Armadillo is trying to come up with a plan for global domination...but with every new idea, being a bad guy seems a little less fun—especially if ruling the world means losing your best friend. Readers will delight in star cartoonist James Sturm's tender and just depiction of a friendship in...READ MORE

Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea Book Cover
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Ben Clanton
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 4, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Star Image School Library Journal

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.

A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring...READ MORE

The Stone Forest Book Cover
Hilda and the Stone Forest
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Luke Pearson
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 4, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist

Hilda may be grounded, but that won’t stop her from heading off on another daring adventure! But everything is thrown off course when her mother catches her and is dragged along for the ride. Furious with each other, the bickering pair find themselves lost in the land of the trolls,...READ MORE

The Great Antonio Book Cover
The Great Antonio: TOON Level 2
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Elise Gravel
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 11, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus

What made the Great Antonio so great? He weighed as much as a horse! He once wrestled a bear. He could devour twenty-five roasted chickens at one sitting. In this whimsical book, beloved author and illustrator Elise Gravel tells the true story of Antonio Barichievich, the larger-than-life Montreal strongman who...READ MORE

Nightlights Book Cover
Nightlights
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Lorena Alvarez
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers,
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
Published: March 14, 2017
Starred Reviews: Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Star Image Kirkus Reviews

A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION



Every night, tiny stars appear out of the darkness in little Sandy's bedroom. She catches them and creates wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep, and in the morning brings them back to life in the whimsical drawings that...READ MORE

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Hello there!

Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more

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