Remember comic books? They’re still popular, but so are graphic novels; stories told using the comic form, but published as books. They can be an original tale or a retelling of traditional fiction. “The Swiss Family Robinson,” for example, was recently published as a graphic novel. Well loved by all ages, these books are great for reluctant readers. The combination of minimal text and many pictures grabs their attention and makes reading more accessible. Try some of these with your elementary school students.
Peter decides to become a dog in “Love that Puppy! The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to be a Dog” by Jeff Jarka. Not everyone thought it was a good idea, but Peter was happy. Besides he was good at being a puppy. He knew how to sit, beg and perform simple tricks. There were some downsides. His schoolwork suffered and his excuse? He ate it. He also developed an unhealthy interest in the mail and the mailman! Finally, his parents had had enough. That made Peter sad, but he decided to do what they wanted. He hung in there for a while, but one day he couldn’t contain it any longer. Out it came. “Meow?” This laugh out loud book has vibrantly colored illustrations.
In Eleanor Davis’ book, “Stinky” is a swamp monster who loves all things stinky and abhors all that is not. That includes kids who he assumes love to take baths and don’t like mucky mud. Then Nick shows up. He’s built a tree house in the swamp, and Stinky decides to chase him away. He begins by putting Wartbelly, “the grossest, smelliest toad,” in Nick’s house. But Nick loves him and names him Daisy. So Stinky hides Nick’s hammer “in the muckiest, smelliest spot,” but Nick finds it while bug hunting. Frustrated, Stinky hides Nick’s hat until he learns it was his lucky one. Feeling guilty, he tries to retrieve it and gets himself stuck. Who should rescue him but Nick and the two become fast friends.
In “Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dragon Players
” by Frank Cammuso, a comedy of errors leads to the knights angering the school bully and sending a bowling ball through the windshield of the principal’s new car. The repairs will cost $300.00; more money than they can possibly raise unless they can build a winning dragon for the Dragon Duel Robot Tournament. When the reigning winners steal their design, they get outside help, but are they breaking their knightly code in doing so?
Babymouse dreams of being famous in “Babymouse: Rock Star
” by Jennifer and Matthew Holm. Unfortunately, she is a not a very good flute player. The funniest illustrations are of the world’s reactions to her playing. Birds fall from trees and polar ice caps break in two. Throughout, she struggles with a bully, Felicia, who constantly reminds Babymouse how terrible she is. But Felicia has made an enemy; Penny the class’ best flute player. For revenge, Penny offers to help Babymouse, encouraging her to relax and think calm thoughts. Suddenly, “the hills are alive with the sound of flute-playing!” Penny has done the impossible; Babymouse is no longer last chair and has a new friend!
Fashion is everything in “Fashion Kitty and the Unlikely Hero
” by Charise Mericle Harper. The students spend all of their time talking about fashion and the superhero, Fashion Kitty, also known as Kiki in her everyday persona. It was more than Mrs. Rumple, the principal, could stand. An emergency meeting was called and school uniforms became the law. But fashion could not be kept down and a fashion newsletter was begun. This book is also a story about friends and honesty with a touch of mystery.