I am a mother to a stubborn reader.

You know the kind. He can read well, but chooses not to, or does so very reluctantly with lots of whining and avoidance.

While I respect that reading isn’t his first love (“Sports are my life, mom.”), I know that reading every day and finding a way to enjoy it is imperative to his success in school.

What I’ve learned, though, is that at 7 years old, it’s not that he doesn’t like to read. It’s that books with lots of words and few pictures seem intimidating and boring to him. He still loves picture books, but I want to challenge him with longer books, too.

Enter: graphic novels. My new, not-so-secret weapon in the stubborn reader battle.

As my son enters 2nd grade, I’ve compiled a list of graphic novels that I hope will appeal to his “less-talk-more-action” personality. Each of these books offers a full novel-length story told with eye-catching illustrations and a comic book-style lay out.

I’m hoping for some big winners here. If you have your own stubborn reader on your hands, give these graphic novels a try!


5 graphic novels that will motivate even the most reluctant and stubborn reader.

Graphic Novels For 8-12 Year Olds


What do you do when you find a T-Rex in your neighborhood? You become best friends with it, of course! TenNapel writes fun, supernatural stories with great boy appeal. Also try NEWTS by TenNapel.

SMILE by Raina Telgemeier

Raina is a middle school aged girl who’s just trying to find her place in the world – with fake teeth and a lot of dental work. Confession time: My son loves this book, but he’s never actually read it. He carried it around for years though because of the fantastic cover art and even more fantastic illustrations. The next in the series, SISTERS, is pretty great too.

SQUISH #1: SUPER AMOEBA by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

He’s a comic book-loving, twinkie-eating grade school AMOEBA trying to find his place in the world (or at least trying to make it through a school day). Yeah, I have high hopes for this one. And even better: Squish’s story lives on in a series. The latest is SQUISH #7: DEADLY DISEASE OF DOOM.


A boy. His dog. And time travel. Sounds like a winning combination. My oldest son read these when he was younger and loved them. Also looking forward to trying MAL AND CHAD: FOOD FIGHT!

DRAGONBREATH #1 by Ursula Vernon

Our latest find. Danny Dragonbreath can’t breathe fire – we’ll see what comes next. I’m particularly looking forward to the 3rd in the series DRAGONBREATH #3: CURSE OF THE WERE-WIENER.

Finding books for my stubborn reader sometimes feels like an exercise in futility. But even one or two books that get him excited about reading can be the spark he needs to continue on with it. I’m certain we’ll find some winners on this list, and I hope that you do too!

Early Shirts and You

At Early Shirts, we believe books are powerful, especially in the hands of children. But far too many children don’t have access to books and that’s a problem. That’s why we’re busy making sure all children have books to call their own at an early age. You can help! Shop Early Shirts today and help kids get books. One Shirt = One Book. It’s simple, magical math.