Stage B
A Graphic Novels How-To Guide

When you think of graphic novels, you probably imagine bright colorful comic books or maybe short books composed of simple text with numerous pictures that may not resemble real reading for your students.

Well, think again!

Read 180 Universal's inclusion of graphic novels sparked a movement I could never have ever anticipated for the incorporation of more graphic novels in my classroom.  Students who frequently abandoned books and read with poor intonation, suddenly became avid readers when learning how to read these books.  Not only did these students desire to read more novels, they also began to read these texts with intonation and expression that outmatches actors who read scripts in a play.  

What are Graphic Novels?

 Graphic novels are books that tell a story using a combination of words and pictures in sequence across the page.  The format of these novels includes text, images, word balloons, sound effects, and panels.  Graphic novels can be of any genre and include many classic book adaptations.

 Graphic Novels:

  •       Greatly assist with getting developing readers to read with expression and intonation
  •        Gets reluctant readers to read and  finish a book which gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride
  •        Provides an opportunity for kids to learn many story elements using high-interest texts in a fun way
  •     Provides visuals that assist with meaning because students get to see images and words work together
  •       Covers cross-curricular topics --  including sensitive and difficult topics such as genocides, wars, sports, history, advanced literature, and science
  •        Comes  in many Classic Book Adaptations
  •        Allows some students to develop a positive relationship with text
  •          Teaches how a story is constructed through frames, colors, angles, and word bubbles
  •         Assists students with making inferences as they need to interpret the visuals which include body expressions, along with single words or phrases, in understanding the theme, sequence, and plot of the story

Suggested Novels (Top Picks!)

The Sports Illustrated Graphic Novels for Kids Series include a description of the characters at the start of each book along with page numbers and a highly useful glossary of important terms to know. (Or less expensive when purchased on Amazon)


  •       March, Book 1; March, Book 2; March, Book 3   by John Lewis
  •          Smile; Sisters; Drama; and Ghosts by Reina Telgemeier
  •         El Deafo by Cece Bell
  •        Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
  •        Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
  •         The Hobbit: A Graphic novel by Chuck Dixon
  •        The Call of the Wild: The Graphic Novel (Campfire Graphic Novels)
  •        A Wrinkle in Time: A Graphic Novel by Madeline L’Engle
  •         Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer
  •         The City of Ember by Dallas Middaugh
  •         Kate the Great, Except When She’s Not by Suzy Becker
  •       Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson
  •       Treasure Island: The Graphic novel (Campfire Graphic Novels)
  •       The Wizard of Oz: The Graphic Novel adapted by Michael Cavallaro
  •        9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colon
  •        Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House, Authorized Graphic Biography
  •        Lewis & Clark by Nick Bertozzi
  •         Pride and Prejudice: The Graphic Novel by Laurence Such (Campfire Graphic Novels)
  •        The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan
  •        Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes & Nick Bertozzi

Top Graphic Novel links to get you started

Get Graphic, the World in Words and Pictures and Teaching Strategies for Graphic Novels)

 The Graphic Novel Resource for Educators and Librarians

 A Guide to Using Graphic Novels with Children and Teens

Age range and content reviews for books and all media for kids

How Graphic Novels Connect Students to Social Justice Issues Worldwide

43 Graphic Novels for Young Readers from Toddlers to Teens

A Secret to Success

My students read their first few graphic novels aloud, with me modeling how to navigate the sequence of the story bubbles, along with the sound effects from the fabulous onomatopoeia that is central to these novels, until they were hooked on the process and able to read additional graphic novels on their own.

My Philosophy

"Slow and steady wins the race" has been my motto with teaching my reluctant readers this year.  If graphic novels can get my students to learn more about topics such as The Great Depression, The Lewis and Clark Expedition, and classics such as The Call of the Wild, The Hobbit, and Treasure Island, then I've done my job with introducing reading as an important gateway to accessing information about any topic

The inclusion of graphic novels has opened the doors of reading for many of my challenged and reluctant readers. These novels present storylines to my students in manageable bits and pieces that include visuals and plenty of familiar onomatopoeia, which increases their comprehension and also helps them to have fun while reading. 

I strongly encourage you to add some graphic novels to your classroom library. Check your school and local public libraries for titles that they may have available for your students to borrow. If these libraries don't have what you need, then ask them to purchase the books. If that method fails, then seek out assistance from Donors Choose.org.



System 44 Educator
  • tvickers

    Sally, I really appreciate this blog topic! I have had many readers over the years that have been very successful with graphic novels. These extra resources will be very helpful!

    I want to implement this.