Get Kids Reading with 9 Graphic Novels

Graphic Novels Horizontal

Never underestimate the impact of a graphic novel. For a book design of limited text and simplified illustrations each poignant panel has the uncanny knack of expressing emotion, humour, visual thinking and sound effects with a single powerful punch. KERPOW!

Both my boys love graphic novels and unlike other books which they relegate to the bedtime reading zone, it’s not unusual for me to find them reading them on the stairs, under the stairs and even sitting in cardboard boxes. I once happened upon a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to read one on the trampoline!

Graphic novels seem to bring out hidden acting skills in them! They are one of the few books that they love to read out loud, repeat the funny parts (again…..and again!) and invent voices for the different characters. Somehow they become more involved with graphic novels so rather than it being a solitary reading affair it becomes an active interaction between both boys. So if you haven’t tried one before, it might just be the switch that you’re looking for to spark the difference between a reluctant reader and a relentless reader.

Once again they have been rated out of 10 by my two boys currently aged 8 and 6. The first rating from my eldest.

Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos lll (author) & James Proimos Jr (Illustrator); Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 2015. RATING: 10/10 – 6/10.

A quick read but none-the-less enjoyable and the perfect introduction to graphic novels. Sometimes the satisfaction of completing a quick read is exactly what children need to fuel their interest towards the next book. When Brownie and Apollo’s hunger sets in and their humans haven’t returned to feed them it can only mean one thing, the world has ended! So we follow the two brave dogs as they venture out into the big world beyond the front door in search of their dinner.

CLICK TO BUY Apocalypse Bow Wow

Tom Gates, A Tiny Bit Lucky by Liz Pichon (author & illustrator); Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books Ed. 2015. RATING: 10/10 – 3/10.

Of course we could have picked from a number a Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates books but this was voted one of our favourites. The amusing illustrations compliment the dry humour of Tom Gates and his diary-like candid comments of the things you might be thinking but wouldn’t want to say out loud!

CLICK TO BUY A Tiny Bit Lucky (Tom Gates)

Stormbreaker, the graphic novel. Original story by Anthony Horowitz (author) & adapted by Antony Johnston. Kanako & Yuzuro Yuzuru (illustrators); Publisher: Walker 2012. RATING: 8/10 – recommend for age 8+ so not read with youngest.

This one was recommended by our librarian as my eldest has previously read and loved some of the other Anthony Horowitz novels. The graphic version of Stormbreaker instantly took precedence over the full length novel. Graphic novels can act as a simplified format for younger children to absorb a lot of information at one time. The story of Alex Rider, school boy turned super spy being recruited for life and death missions successfully plays on its Bond like appeal for children.

CLICK TO BUY Stormbreaker: The Graphic Novel (Alex Rider) by Horowitz, Anthony, Johnston, Antony (August 2, 2012) Paperback

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (author) & Terry Denton (illustrator);  Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books 2015. RATING: 9/10 – 5/10.

The story writing duo Terry and Andy live in the most epic treehouse you could ever imagine. They have a secret underground laboratory, a bowling alley, a swimming pool and so much more, including a very handy vegetable vapouriser for any stray sprouts they may come across. We follow the two friends through their crazy, hilarious adventures to save their treehouse from destruction. Split into chapters with black and white illustrations throughout.

CLICK TO BUY The 13-Storey Treehouse (The Treehouse Books)

Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown (author/illustrator); Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books, Scholastic Ltd 2014. RATING: 9/10 – 6/10.

We’re introduced to the character Roan Novachez who is endeavouring to learn how to be a powerful Jedi but it turns out it’s the mishaps he encounters which endear him to us. Between seeing him arrive at the Academy embarrassingly early, laughing at his many disastrous attempts to conquer the flight simulator without destroying it, and watching him try to earn some kudos mixing with Cyrus and Cronah on the dark side only to end up almost ruining his already slim chances of love with Gaiana, Roan is a character any child can relate to.


The Phoenix Presents Evil Emperor Penguin by Laura Ellen Anderson (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books 2015. RATING: 10/10 – 10/10.

My youngest chose this himself at the school book fair before half term and adores it. So much so, although it’s currently beyond his own reading capabilities he made sure he gave it his best try! The full colour illustrations and witty side comments make it a fun, entertaining read with a wide age appeal so I often find it living in either of the boys rooms. The sarcastic Evil Emperor Penguin has set his sights on taking over the world but the good intentions of his cute and cuddly accomplices Eugene and the multi-tasking knitting squid, Number 8, prove more of a hindrance than a help.

CLICK TO BUY Evil Emperor Penguin: Book 1 (The Phoenix Presents)

Spider Moon by Kate Brown (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books (Division of Random House Children’s Publishers UK) Ed. 2010. RATING: 6/10 – recommend for age 8+ so not read with my youngest.

Having a girl as the central character makes a refreshing change for a graphic novel and I enjoyed reading the added extras at the back about how the illustrations were put together. A large, hardback book with just the right mix of destiny, power, heroism and impending disaster to keep us guessing until the end.

CLICK TO BUY The Spider Moon: Book 1 (DFC Library)

Good Dog, Bad Dog by Dave Shelton (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books (Division of Random House Children’s Publishers UK) Ed. 2013. RATING: 9/10 – recommend for age 8+ so not read with my youngest.

A little more serious than some of the other graphic novels mentioned but it still maintains that familiar tongue in cheek approach we love about our comic heroes. The imaginative, full colour illustrations and engaging story line make this book especially attractive to any already avid comic readers out there but beware, even with very good eyesight I found the font type a touch on the small size.

CLICK TO BUY DFC Library: Good Dog, Bad Dog

Super Animal Adventure Squad by James Turner (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books (Division of Random House Children’s Publishers UK) Ed. 2013. RATING: 10/10 – 8/10.

Although overall a longer read than some of the other graphic novels mentioned, the light-hearted humour in this one makes it suitable for a mixed age range. It was addictive. We couldn’t stop reading until we found out how the Animal Adventure Squad prevented the teatime of doom. It was one of those stories that I just couldn’t help myself end each page with that nationally accepted exclamation of impending doom! You know the one! I just don’t know how to translate it into text! Somehow “D – d – derrr…” doesn’t quite convey the same dramatic effect I’m looking for!

CLICK TO BUY DFC Library: Super Animal Adventure Squad

Reading a graphic novel is a bubble talking, often messy super sleuth experience unlike any standard novel. So be prepared to make strange noises and sarcastic comments when delving into the dastardly world of superheroes!

Source: Personal or library copies.


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10 Tips to Transform Your Reluctant Reader into a Master Reader!


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Getting lost in a far off land of fictional books appeals to my imagination but not everybody is interested in that form of escapism. Some would say it’s pointless and impractical or just plain unbelievable. Reading is simply, not for everyone. Or is it? We are all different but everyone still has an interest in something, whether that’s quantum physics or dogs who can dance in the rain! In some form or other there is always a book and probably even one hundred books to be found about a given topic. There are many benefits to reading and that is why people start getting agitated and opinionated when they come across a reluctant reader. We’ve all had times when we’re just settling into, what we think is going to be that special cosy reading time with our children, only to be jumped on, interrupted with a totally random question about loom bands or a sudden desperate plea for the toilet! However, dealing with a reluctant reader is more than the odd lack of motivation and the anxiety it can cause between parent and child is often hard to cope with. It can come to a point when it’s far less stressful just to avoid the whole situation altogether. As understandable as this is, obviously this is not the ideal solution as reading has a far reaching impact on an individual’s personality, social skills, knowledge, imagination, comprehension, to name but a few. So here are some tips on how to turn your reluctant reader into a master reader.

  1. Let your child choose the book they want to read. It sounds simple but if your child is interested in the book, you’re off to a good start as they’re more likely to want to read it. Sometimes merely finding the right book that grabs their attention can make all the difference.
  2. Show an interest in the books your child is reading. Ask them questions, point out bits you like, chat about the illustrations but try and avoid making it sound like a test.
  3. Ask your child to read out loud to you and give it your full attention. Let this be your special ten minutes together out of a busy daily schedule. Hearing their voice out loud can help them with pronunciation in particular. Listen to the words they are struggling with. Help them sound these words out and ask if they know what the word means and explain if not. This will help increase their vocabulary and comprehension. Even when they are fluent readers children will often read a word without having a clue what it means.
  4. If your child has a younger sibling, suggest they read to them. This can be a major boost for their confidence.
  5. Read to your child daily and read it with enthusiasm, maybe using different voices and sounds. Yes you may look and sound ridiculously silly but it will be so much more entertaining for your child! Point to the words as you read them to help word recognition. Again let them choose the book first, otherwise choose a topic you think they might enjoy or a book that makes them laugh so reading and listening to it becomes a pleasure for both of you. Reading to them will help improve their listening skills, concentration and use of intonation.
  6. Don’t feel guilty if you use another device. In this day and age, traditional books aren’t the only access we have to reading. There are I-pads, Kindles, computers and Smart phones. Undoubtedly any of these will look way more exciting to a reluctant reader and could engage their interest far quicker and for longer. It’s all about making reading interesting to your child so they are keen to read more.
  7. Reading isn’t just about books. There are many other things we could read. You can get your child reading at any time and often they won’t even notice they are doing it! Show them reading can be fun. Make a cake and get your child to read out the ingredients to you, take them on a treasure hunt and get them to read the clues, play a car game to spot certain road signs, get them to read their menu at a restaurant, play a board game and ask them to read the instructions to you, pull up their favourite website, read competitions on cereal boxes, the programme at the theatre or comic strips in magazines. The list is endless, it is just a matter of giving your child access to these opportunities that we might otherwise automatically do for them and suddenly there becomes a practical reason for them to read.
  8. Demonstrate your love of reading too. Children are great copycats and whether we like it or not our children will always adopt our habits and opinions to some extent. Therefore, logically there’s a greater chance that if you’re an avid reader yourself, your child is more likely to follow suit from being intrigued by what you find so fascinating about reading. The reality though is that not all of us as adults have this passion ourselves and are less inclined to bother changing it later in life and even those that do, often struggle to find the time to read. However, it is still possible to show a love of reading as part of our daily routine. For example, books might not interest you but reading a daily paper or monthly magazine might or checking through a manual on your favourite past time. Simple, enjoyable activities like these can all help and even show that reading reaches far beyond fairies and zombies (don’t get me started on zombies!). We want them to read because they want to, not because they are told they have to.
  9. Where’s the fun in a difficult book? There are many reasons why your child may be a reluctant reader, one being that the books they have are too difficult for them. Don’t rush them onto a higher level book just because their friends might be reading it. Every child progresses at their own rate and rushing can often have the reverse effect. They should be able to read most of the words in the book fluently with a few longer more difficult words thrown in to challenge them; otherwise they may quickly become discouraged and frustrated. If they really want to read a book they are struggling with but it’s popular with their peers and they want to join in with the chat about it at school, read it to them until they are ready to tackle it themselves and concentrate on the books that are at a more suitable level to build confidence.
  10. Make reading time special and it can create long lasting fond memories. For some children it is purely the regular bedtime stories that makes them feel secure and loved but sometimes a little more creativeness may be required. Put out a special reading rug or blanket hideout, find novelty places for story time in a tree house, tent or on a trampoline. Invite their favourite teddy to listen too. Small touches can lead to a big change in their attitude towards reading.

Even if you don’t do all of these tips just trying a few could make such a difference to your child’s future. To me being able to read and loving it can open up so many doors for opportunity.

Here’s a great website I found which suggests books to help inspire reluctant readers of all ages.