Beyond Picture Books: Graphic Novels

Note: Today’s post comes to us from Deborah van der Linde, a librarian and children’s literature expert! Read on for fun suggestions to read with your kids!

I’ve always found that graphic novels are a wonderful way to get kids reading, and to build confidence in their reading skills.

There are original stories done in graphic novel form, and there are some children’s books that have been redone in graphic novel form. Both types are wonderful.

I think a novel that’s been redone in graphic novel form is one of the most useful tools to get kids reading more – the story is less daunting with all the pictures to help decode meaning, and if the child enjoys that story, they may be convinced to read the original, or even other works by the same author. (This is what happened when my 6 year old son read the graphic novel of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. He just picked out the original novel format for the second book in the series: The Sea of Monsters).

There are of course classics like TinTin and Asterix, which kids have been enjoying for over 50 years, and which have now been published in dozens of languages.)

to danceTo Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel

by Siena Cherson Siegel, artwork by Mark Siegel

This memoir is the story of Siena, who is passionate about dancing. From Puerto Rico, to Boston, to the New York Ballet, we follow Siena’s budding career as a dancer.

The Artemis Fowl series

by Eoin Colfer

These graphic novels are based on the novels about a boy genius who decides to steal leprechaun gold, and maybe gets more adventure than he bargains for. This is a wonderful series to get, and keep, kids reading. What’s more, if they like the graphic novels, maybe they will be willing to read the full novels.

the marvelsThe Marvels

by Brian Selznick


Though not technically a graphic novel, this rather thick book is told through a combination of illustrations and text. The beautiful illustrations will draw in any reader – just don’t let the size daunt you, story telling through illustrations takes up a lot of pages, which are quickly read through. (Maybe helping to build confidence at the same time.)

The Sleeper and The Spindle

by Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Chris Riddell

This has to be one of the most beautiful graphic novels that I’ve seen lately. It is a fractured fairy tale involving Snow White and Sleeping Beauty – but with a twist. It also has a strong female lead, which makes this princess story all the more appealing. Riddell’s illustrations are unique and incredibly beautiful – with a hint of ugliness that just makes them all the more beautiful.

Other Novel Choices

Many of the classics, from Shakespeare to Jack London, have now been redone in graphic novel format, which turns daunting tomes into highly accessible, and highly entertaining reads for kids. For example, how exciting would Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island be in graphic novel? Or Call of the Wild, by Jack London? Or Shakespeare’s Macbeth, for that matter?

Happy Reading!

Deborah is a librarian, mother of two and military wife. She has a masters of Library and Information Sciences, and is completing a Masters of Education. She has been working with libraries and literacy initiatives for the last decade, and is now establishing the blog, Poppies and Prose, which offers book reviews for adults and children, aimed, though not exclusively, at the Canadian military community. She currently lives in Quebec City and manages the historic Morrin Centre Library.

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