The best graphic novels for reluctant readers

Who am I?

Growing up, there was nothing I hated more than reading. Struggling with dyslexia and learning disabilities made books miserable and the distractions of screens didn’t help. However, everything changed when I discovered graphic novels and comics! That led to a newfound love of stories and books (especially graphic novels) which took me on a journey of not being able to read at age ten, to publishing my first novel at age fifteen. Since then, I’ve written and illustrated children’s books and young adult novels, but Mup is my first graphic novel. This has inspired me to create more graphic novels designed specifically for those who are just like me – reluctant readers.

I wrote...


By Raea Gragg,

Book cover of Mup

What is my book about?

Adventure awaits and Mup is ready for it. But with one bad wish, a creeping disaster unfolds and Mup finds herself trapped in the future, face-to-face with the one person she never wanted to become: her teenage self. With the world's plants dying all around them, the girls must overcome their differences and work together to uncover the secret to the planet's survival—which may have something to do with a forgotten mystery of the earth's prehistoric past.

Illustrated with captivating artwork and fast-paced comic-book-style action, this story tackles global environmental disasters while zeroing in on the greatest challenge of all: staying true to yourself.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume

Why did I love this book?

Bone was the first book I ever read on my own as a 5th grader. For the first time, I didn’t use an audiobook or need a parent/teacher to read it to me. For that alone, I’ve put it at the top of the list. Bone follows the story of three wayward brothers as they each find their way to a fantastical valley filled with mythical dragons, bizarre creatures, and a lost princess. What starts off as this fun and goofy comic, spirals into this adventure of epic proportions as the author-illustrator takes young readers into a world they never imagined before. 

This fast-paced saga helped captivate me from the first page to the last and I personally owe a lot to this book for helping me overcome my dislike for reading as a young person. This book helped me on my journey to becoming a reader and it was due to the adventure that filled its pages. 

By Jeff Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BONE – The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume

Winner of 41 National and International Awards including 10 Eisner Awards and 11 Harvey Awards!

Meet the Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, three misfits who are run out of Boneville and find themselves lost in a vast uncharted desert. They make their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. With the help of the mysterious Thorn, her tough-as-nails Gran’ma Ben and the Great Red Dragon, the boys do their best to survive in the middle of brewing trouble between the valley’s denizens.…

Book cover of Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995

Why did I love this book?

Who doesn’t like Calvin and Hobbes, a fun comic strip about a silly first grader and his sidekick best buddy tiger? Calvin and Hobbes is heartwarming, mischievous, and speaks to every kid with their imagination and sense of adventure. Plus, the reason why I put it on this list: it’s easy to read. The engaging, four-panel comic strips are a digestible size for someone struggling with word comprehension. Not only is Calvin a lovable and relatable character with his little adventures being dynamic, action-packed, and hilarious, it’s proven to engage any reluctant reader. I can attest as Calvin and Hobbes was one of the very few books I voluntarily read as a kid – and I loved it. 

By Bill Watterson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Calvin and Hobbes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrating an exhibit of ten years of Sunday comics featuring the beloved boy and his tiger, Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995 is sure to bring back memories.

New York Times best-seller!

Everyone misses Calvin and Hobbes.

It reinvented the newspaper comic strip at a time when many had all but buried the funnies as a vehicle for fresh, creative work. Then Bill Watterson came along and reminded a new generation of what older readers and comic strip aficionados knew: A well-written and beautifully drawn strip is an intricate, powerful form of communication. And with Calvin and Hobbes, we had…

Runaways: The Complete Collection Volume 1

By Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona (illustrator), Takeshi Miyazawa (illustrator)

Book cover of Runaways: The Complete Collection Volume 1

Why did I love this book?

This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t add a superhero comic. But instead of Spiderman or Captain America, I want to introduce you to Runaways. A middle-grade graphic novel comic series about six Los Angeles teenagers who join together after discovering that their supervillain parents are planning on destroying the world. What could be more fun than a bunch of random teenagers banding together to try and save the world while trying to grapple with their place in it? Dinosaurs, aliens, mutant powers, grocery shopping, crushes, and turning eighteen, it’s a lot to handle and is certainly very fun to read – even for a someone who doesn’t like reading. Plus, if a reader makes it to the end, they’re rewarded with unforeseen plot twists. 

By Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona (illustrator), Takeshi Miyazawa (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Runaways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Collects Runaways (2003) #1-18.

They were six normal teenagers linked only by their wealthy parents’ annual business meeting…until a chance discovery revealed the shocking truth: their parents are the secret criminal society known as the Pride! For years, the Pride controlled of Los Angeles’ criminal activity, ruling the city with an iron fist…and now, with their true natures exposed, the Pride will take any measures necessary to protect their organization — even if it means taking out their own children! Now on the run from their villainous parents, Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gertrude, Molly and Alex have only each other to…

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney,

Book cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Why did I love this book?

A classic. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a proven franchise that can springboard reluctant readers into other literary and visual works. This fun beginner’s book for the middle-grade audience does one thing very well: entertain. As Greg Hefley navigates the ups and downs of middle school one thing remains certain: nothing goes according to plan for Greg. Filled with funny jokes, humorous plot twists, and a whole lot of goofy moments, Diary of a Wimpy kid will certainly hold a reluctant reader’s attention. I know it did for me as Diary of a Wimpy Kid was the second book I ever managed to read on my own and was laughing along with everyone else at the silly misfortunes that befall on the unfortunate protagonist. 

By Jeff Kinney,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Diary of a Wimpy Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Boys don't keep diaries-or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It's a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you're ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley's star…

Owly: The Way Home

By Andy Runton,

Book cover of Owly: The Way Home

Why did I love this book?

A nearly wordless comic about a cute little owl who goes on adventures and meets new friends. Not only is Owly adorable – but it’s practically wordless. This series is perfect for an early reader who wants to start reading graphic novels on their own. Its non-intimidating approach makes it a great start for any reluctant reader. Plus, did I mention that Owly is super cute? 

By Andy Runton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Owly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Owly wants is a friend...

Owly is a good-natured little owl, and he's always helping those around him. But despite his kindness, he seems to frighten would-be friends away before they even give him a chance, just because he's an owl. That all changes, though, once Owly meets Wormy. Like Owly, Wormy is in need of a good friend, too -- someone who can be counted on for a helping hand, a good laugh, and a great adventure!Through a unique blend of words and symbols, Owly can be read by the youngest readers, and is a great introduction to…

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