If you're like me, you may have found that the graphic novel section at the library can be a minefield. Some of the graphic novels are beautiful and clean, but others are dark and dirty and definitely not what I want my kids exposed to. Some parents avoid the graphic novel section altogether because of this, but there really are some great graphic novels that deserve to be on the Classic Reading List.
"Classic" Graphic Novels?!? Yes!
The definition of "classics" that I'm using here is that a classic is a book (or work of art, music, etc) that is worth returning to over and over again.
With this definition, classics can be any works that inspire and demonstrate character growth (such as Hero Journey stories), inspire caring relationships (Little Women comes to mind), and/or bring beauty and a sense of the divine into the world (such as the art of John Constable). Books don't have to be old to be classics, but they do need to have merit and worthiness.
SIDE NOTE 😀: One interesting thing about classics is that they may be different from person to person. We all bring our own experience to bear, and what resonates for me may not be meaningful for you. So my own Classic Reading List will likely be different from yours, but it would be neat to see where they overlap and depart.
Graphic Novels are Great for Struggling Readers and Kids Who Resist Reading
Because there is a wide developmental reading age from 4yo to 14yo, some kids are pushed to read before they are really ready and then decide that they hate reading. Other kids who have been required to read may also develop a resistance to reading for their own pleasure.
Graphic novels can be a helpful tool for all of these kids to rewrite their script and once again enjoy books and reading. If you're using graphic novels for this, make sure you don't force the child to engage with these books but instead let it happen naturally.
If your kids don't naturally pick up these books to read them, maybe you can start out reading them aloud or even reading just a few pages aloud (and then leaving the book in a prominent location so your child can engage with it independently).
Top 10+ Graphic Novels for Kids
After a steady diet of classic books, read-alouds, and audiobooks over the last decade, my kids have gotten very good at discerning quality from fluff and virtue from vice. Below are our Top 10+ Classic Graphic Novels in no particular order, according to my kids (ages 12yo and 15yo).
The age ranges listed are approximate and based on the content of the books (and not the reading levels). My kids have tended to be on the sensitive side so you may find that your own kids are ready for these earlier or later depending on their sensitivity levels.
Courageous Princess series by Rod Espinosa (ages 9+)
Nameless City series by Faith Erin Hicks (ages 11+)
Secondhand Heroes series by Justin LaRocca Hansen(ages 11+)
Garfield series by Jim Davis(ages 8+)
Calvin and Hobbes series by Bill Watterson (ages 10+)
Tea Dragon Society series by K. O'Neill (ages 8+)
Mighty Jack series by Ben Hatke(ages 8+)
Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke (ages 8+)
Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack (ages 9+)
The Legend of Brightblade by Ethan Aldridge (ages 10+)
Hazardous Tales series by Nathan Hale (ages 12+)
The Last Firehawk series by Katrina Charman (ages 7+) (these aren't actually graphic novels, but they have lots of pictures!)
Do you have any graphic novel recommendations to share?
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