A novel approach to reading
Graphic novels have become a much more popular choice for readers in recent years and are having a positive impact on attitudes towards reading. Acknowledging them as valuable reading material instead of just being for struggling readers has helped lots of children to find a whole new style of book they enjoy.
Recently, series such as Bunny vs Monkey by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books, 2021 ) have topped book-selling charts and shown the importance of having graphic novels in your school library. If you are not sure where to start, then here are some of the books which have been the most popular in my class and will be sure to find plenty of fans in yours.
Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas (HarperAlley, 2022)
Dive into this simple-sounding story and find yourself immersed and attached emotionally to the very end. Full of complex themes and life lessons, this fantastic read will impact the choices and behaviour of readers in a very positive way. A swimming-based title that has much more to offer than poolside action.
Lightfall Book One: The Girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert (HarperAlley, 2020)
Lightfall drags readers into its stunning world and takes you on a truly thrilling quest from the start. Along the way, it shows the power of emotions, friendship and the importance of working together. The artwork is a delight throughout and supports the narrative perfectly.
‘InvestiGators’ series by John Patrick Green (Macmillan Children’s Books Ltd, 2023)
Ever since the first book in this series was released, I have been suggesting it to any reader who is unsure what to read next or is looking for a laugh. This six-book collection introduces wordplay and puns brilliantly whilst telling a genuinely engaging and engrossing story. Heroes and villains make repeated appearances throughout the series and ensure that readers all have a favourite to choose from.
‘Mr Wolf’s Class’ series by Aron Nels Steinke (Scholastic/Graphix, 2018)
Always a big hit with any KS2 class, Mr Wolf’s Class follows the daily escapades of a class and their teacher. Written by a former teacher, both adults and children will all be able to identify with the characters and the thought process behind their decisions. Funny, thought-provoking and emotive throughout, this five-book series is a must have for any school library.
Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter (Graphix, 2021)
This book has been one of the most borrowed in my classroom for several years now and never fails to find an army of fans. It focuses on how life doesn’t always go the way you want. It also explores the changing landscape of friendship as you grow up and the difficulties that can arise when moving on to a new school or year group.
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley (Random House Graphic, 2020)
A very relatable tale for many readers about the challenges of forming a blended family. Based on the author’s real-life experiences, the story manages to convey the emotional barriers that occur during separation whilst also displaying the often-daft activities that children get up to when given spare time. Heart warming and thought provoking throughout, this is a big hit with classes.
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Dial Books, 2020)
This is an inspiring and emotive graphic novel for people who are unsure about the format. The real-life story of Omar Mohamed will find readers fully invested in his struggles to secure an exit from a Kenyan refugee camp. This is a book that everybody should read at least once in their lifetime.
‘I Survived’ series by Lauren Tarshis (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2010)
This series of books covers a range of important world events that are still discussed today. Ranging from the sinking of the Titanic to the destruction of the World Trade Centre, the books cover very challenging tragedies in a sensitive and informative manner. These fictionalised stories are based on real accounts with a section at the end that educates readers about significant people or places that were involved with the event.
Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang (Graphix, 2023)
This story depicts the struggles for Asian families trying to move to America and settle into society. Focusing on the three children of one family, readers are drawn into the struggles many families endured in trying to start a new life in a new country. From the joys of Disneyland to the heartbreak of exploitation, this story will have readers desperate to read on and see if everything manages to turn out alright in the end.
Amulet, The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix, 2008)
This book is responsible for some of the most frenzied bookshelf rushes you will ever see. Every class that has a set of these will have children almost fighting to get their hands on the next instalment. Book one starts with a huge plot twist that hooks readers in immediately, desperate to find out what happens to Emily and Navin as they find themselves drawn into a situation that nobody could have predicted when they moved house.
About the author: Richard Ruddick is a Year 6 teacher in Norwich. Richard is very passionate about using graphic novels to improve attitudes towards reading and support reading development. You can follow his journey to promote graphic novels as much as possible on Twitter (X) @RuddickRichard