At the end of 2017, I made a pledge. I challenged myself to review good books every month in 2018, particularly books that haven’t gotten as much love as I feel they deserve. I call it Kidlit Karma because I’m aiming to spread the love for books that I love.
This month’s collection of books are all inspired by my eldest daughter, who is a struggling reader. Yes, children of writers can be struggling readers. So can bookworms. Though I was never diagnosed, I strongly suspect I’m mildly dyslexic.
Yes, writers can be dyslexic, too.
If all of this is throwing you for a loop, I recommend the book The Dyslexic Advantage. Not every struggling student is dyslexic, but for the 1 in 5 students who are dyslexic and the adults that love them, this book is revolutionary.
What if I told you there were books that are easy to read and enjoyable enough that even struggling readers will willingly devour them?
It’s not magic, it’s graphic novels.
So here’s the part where you start telling me that these aren’t real books, etc. Is a child reading a comic getting practice at decoding words? Are they having fun and learning to like reading so they will want to read more in the future? Yes and yes. And that will make them a better and more willing reader later.
It’s about buy-in. My eldest listens to audiobook novels for kids twice her age. So she detests having to read easy readers. Something with a real plot that’s within her ability is very welcome.
Graphic novels have been the gateway for many readers. When you see a child who has struggled for years, picks up a book an inch thick and read it in 5 hours straight – there’s nothing to match their excitement at reading a “BIG” book or your pride at seeing the many hours of hard work come to fruition. And because of that success and excitement, she has read voraciously every since.
Maybe it is magic after all.
So with that in mind, here are some of our favorite graphic novels to get you started.
Graphic Novel: GHOSTS by Raina Telgemeier
Cat is not happy about having to move to a new town, but her little sister Maya is sick and they have to make the move to keep her healthy. Once they move, they discover that the town is haunted. But are the ghosts evil or friendly?
This story weaves together the kind of complex social struggles of a middle grade novel with the Mexican custom of the Day of the Dead. I present this book as a refute to the claim that graphic novels don’t involve brilliant bring-you-to-tears storytelling.
Raina Telgemeier has many more award-winning graphic novels, so make sure to check them all out.
Graphic Novel: ZITA THE SPACEGIRL series by Ben Hatke
Zita is a normal girl until her best friend is kidnapped by an intergalactic group. Now she’s on a rescue mission on a doomed planet with some unlikely companions.
My daughter got the first Zita book as a gift from her best friend. Since then, the whole family has read and reread all the books. These beloved books have earned a permanent place in our library.
Graphic Novel: PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN by Dana Simpson
Phoebe is out skipping rocks one day and smacks a unicorn, breaking her from the spell of her own reflection. As thanks for freeing her, the unicorn grants her one wish. Phoebe’s wish: to be best friends with a unicorn. But she gets a bit more than she bargained for.
My husband was the one to discover this series. It was originally posted as a webcomic and we both fell in love with the humor and wit. We introduced it to our daughter, and that was that.
Graphic Memoir: REAL FRIENDS by Shannon Hale
Making friends is not easy. It certainly wasn’t for shy little Shannon. And even when she had The Group to play with, she wasn’t sure they were friends worth having. Finding real friends is hard, but ultimately worth it.
This award-winning book is full of humor and heart. And though it’s set in the 70’s, the story is timeless
Graphic Memoir: EL DEAFO by Cece Bell
A miraculous new invention gives young Cece the ability to hear for the first time. But school is hard enough without a bulky hearing aid. She enlists the help of her superhero persona El Deafo to take on the school and make friends.
Graphic Novel: CATSTRONAUTS: MISSION TO THE MOON by Drew Brockington
The world has run out of electricity and it will be a permanent lights-out unless the brave Catstronauts can fix the problem.
What’s cuter than cats? How about cats in space! These books are a delight with a fun narrative, purrfect puns, and gorgeous illustrations. My kids giggled all the way through and eagerly asked for more.