Chances are you have at least one youngster in your library who will only read graphic novels.  While some still think graphic novels seem counterproductive to promoting reading, there is a growing body of evidence to prove they may be just the springboard you need to reach reluctant readers.  

Graphic novels are popular for students of all ages and are now carried by most school and public libraries. Series like Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man or Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper have staying power and maintain robust holds lists. The format can make tough topics a little easier to handle and feel less intimidating, but they can also be just plain fun (who couldn’t use a good laugh now and then?).  

There are still plenty of adults who remain skeptical of the graphic novel’s worth in promoting literacy. A web search for “teaching with graphic novels” produces many results, including those from Scholastic, The Guardian, and Education Week. But this School Library Journal article talks about the advantages of offering graphic novels to reluctant readers.   

Graphic novels build reading skills in many ways. 

  • They have less text than traditional books, so they are often less overwhelming for reluctant readers. 
  • They use illustrations to help young readers understand and interpret text, especially for visual learners or English Language Learners. 
  • The pairing of language and images help readers develop new memory associations and develop more concise language use. 

So, what is the best way to select graphic novels that will be interesting to reluctant readers while providing valuable information to bring them more success? It’s easy with NoveList! We’ve got some suggestions for topics with matching searches using  field codes. You can use our searches or navigate to the advanced search page to choose different age levels, reading levels, and more.  

Graphic novels and the classics  

If readers are struggling with the classics, many have been adapted to the graphic novel format. To find those titles in NoveList, go to advanced search or try these field code searches. Type GN Graphic novels AND GN Classics into the search box. GN searches for a specific genre. But note that this search will also pull in books classified as Classics-inspired fiction. To remove those from your results, search (GN Graphic novels AND GN Classics) NOT GN Classics-inspired fiction

Graphic novels by age and reading level  

If you want to be sure the books are appropriate for a specific age, there are several ways to search. First, you can search by audience level. To find graphic novels for younger kids using field codes, search GN Graphic novels AND RL 8. RL 8 is the field code to search for books for ages 0-8.  

You also could search by the Lexile or Accelerated Reader code. To find graphic novels within the Lexile range 400-600, search GN Graphic novels AND LX > 400 AND LX < 600.  

For books with an Accelerated Reader level of 2.5, search GN Graphic novels AND RD 2.5.  

Grade-level searching is also available. Searching for books with a grade level of 3-5 in field codes looks like this: GN Graphic novels AND (MG 3 OR XG 5).  

For more information on how to search for graphic novels and “just right” books in NoveList, check out our list of search strategy handouts.   

Graphic novels and appeal terms  

NoveList adds appeal to graphic novels, too! For example, if you know your patron is attracted to simple illustrations, try searching GN Graphic novels AND Big and bold.  

Graphic novels by genre  

NoveList has also created specific genres for graphic novels to help librarians and readers. Historical comics, Biographical comics, and Humorous comics are just a few. To find a specific genre limited to a specific age group, search GN Historical comics AND RL 4.  

If you are asked for manga (Japanese graphic novels, which are typically written to be read from right to left), you can search for that format. You might also consider introducing your teen (and adult!) patrons to Light novels. Light novels are short novels, usually of Japanese origin, that are interspersed with manga-style illustrations. Occasionally, light novels are adapted into manga, so that may pique your readers’ interest. To find teen Light novels in NoveList, search GN Light novels AND RL 2. 

Looking for more information? Search NoveList to see all our articles and lists that pertain to graphic novels. You may be surprised by your patrons’ overall interest in reading once they’ve discovered the format.   

graphic novels kidsf flyer image

Download the flyer here or make your own in LibraryAware.

New to NoveList Search Strategies?

Suzanne Temple is a Metadata Librarian at NoveList. She is currently reading Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel.